HealthcarePapers 5(1) July 2004 : 69-80.doi:10.12927/hcpap..16843

Reconstructing Cancer Services in Ontario

Terry Sullivan, Mark Dobrow, Leslee Thompson and Alan Hudson


This paper draws upon experience gained in the recent restructuring of cancer services in Ontario that can provide insights for broader regionalization efforts. Although Ontario is the only province in Canada not to regionalize its healthcare system, the Ontario cancer services system, like most others in Canada, is based on a regionalized system. However, the growing burden of cancer and predictable crises in cancer services in Ontario necessitated a rethinking of how the cancer system should be structured and how services should be delivered. Based on recommendations by the Cancer Services Implementation Committee in 2001, Ontario's cancer services system has recently gone through major restructuring, which has established new institutional arrangements for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) (the provincial cancer agency), a new Quality Council and 11 new regionally based Integrated Cancer Programs (ICPs). This restructuring has created several levers for promoting regional change and motivating performance improvement, including (1) public reporting on performance with a new quality mandate, (2) fiscal and performance-based agreements between CCO and the ICPs, (3) leading and coordinating communities of practice and (4) direct ministerial access. While institutional relationships are still developing, these experiences may provide important insights for regionalization efforts in other jurisdictions and sectors in Canada.



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