The purpose of the Citizens’ Reference Panel (CRP) is “to help inform the thinking of the government, policy makers and health care providers by providing insight into citizens’ attitudes and views on how we can build a more sustainable and cost-effective health care system in Ontario.”
The CRP is a truly unique approach to engaging Ontarians in a dialogue about the future of health care in this province. The prevalence of chronic diseases, an aging demography, and escalating costs are all creating a sense of urgency about the necessity to align spending with the needs of the local population and assure a sustainable health care system for the future.
Sponsored by PwC and scheduled for three intensive weekends of immersion in a dialogue about health care, the CRP has been designed to provide a forum for citizens to participate in conversations about the future of health care delivery and spending.
An advisory board has been formed to provide advice and expertise to the framing, scope and curriculum of the CRP deliberations. Members of the board were selected on the basis of their reputations and leadership within health care in Ontario and beyond.
The advisory board’s role is to oversee the process and ensure that it’s focused, balanced and fair. The board reviews all aspects of the program and use their knowledge to make sure all reasonable perspectives are well represented to the citizens. They will also help to verify that the panel’s deliberations and recommendations correspond with viable public policies that decision makers could adopt. In addition to the advisory board, a number of other health care leaders have been invited to share their views on various topics in alignment with the curriculum.
The preparations for the CRP included a civic lottery process through which 10,000 Ontarians were selected and sent an invitation to participate in the weekend deliberations. There were 538 responses to the invitation and of these, 225 volunteered to be available for all three weekends and were considered for one of the 28 spots, one male and one female for each of the 14 Local Health Integration Networks. Citizens will be coming from across Ontario (e.g., Thunder Bay, Niagara Falls, Kenora) to Toronto for targeted engagement sessions. Over the three weekends from April to June 2011, the citizen panel will meet to:
By the end of their engagement, the citizen panel will have produced and ratified a common set of recommendations as well as a vision for future health services and investment. We’ll provide a chronicle of each weekend’s highlights through journal entries such as this one over the next three months.
On the weekend of April 29 to May 1, the designated 28 invitees convened for the initial session at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto where they heard from health care leaders on topics such as the evolution of health care and current views on directions for reform; demographic trends; health system funding and sustainability, and specific sector issues and pressures.
Speakers included Steven Lewis as keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Rachlis, Lisa Droppo and Dr. Raisa Deber. Their presentations will be interspersed with roundtable discussions, site visits and activities focused on value prioritization.
Follow the action as each weekend unfolds. Be sure to connect again in early May to read the highlights and key outcomes from the CRP’s first weekend together!
Barbara Pitts is the chair of the Citizens’ Reference Panel on Ontario Health Services and an associate partner at PwC.