Ontario Newsroom

Improving ER Services In Rural And Northern Ontario

Archived Bulletin

Improving ER Services In Rural And Northern Ontario

Ministry of Health

Ontario is asking a group of leading health care experts to examine and develop recommendations for improving emergency services in small and rural communities.

Due to the small size of some rural and northern ERs, minor staffing challenges -- a doctor's unforeseen family emergency or a nurse's unexpected illness, for example -- can impact a hospital's emergency services.

The new Emergency Room Task Force -- which is made up of 14 experts from across the province and includes emergency room doctors -- will develop recommendations to help emergency rooms in rural and northern areas adapt to staffing challenges while ensuring local communities continue to have access to high quality emergency care. The panel will submit a final report to the government in the spring.

As a result of government investments and the commitment of the province's health professionals, there have been no unplanned ER closures in Ontario since 2003.  By launching the Emergency Room Task Force, the province will maintain and build on this success while helping small and rural hospitals improve regional emergency health care services.

The work of the Emergency Room Task Force supports the province's five-year Open Ontario Plan to provide more access to health care services while improving quality and accountability for patients.


Emergency Room Task Force Members


Dr. Joshua Tepper

ADM Health Human Resources Strategy - Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Suzanne McGurn

Director, Negotiations and Accountability - Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care


Dr. Andrew Affleck

Emergency Department Lead - Northwest Local Health Integration Network

Malcolm Bates

Director, Emergency Health Services - Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Bernie Blais 

CEO, North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN

Vanessa Burkoski

Provincial Chief Nursing Officer

Tom Closson

President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association

Ken Deane

ADM, Health System Accountability and Performance - Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Mary Fleming

Director, Primary Health Care - Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Dr. Atul Kapur

Ontario Medical Association  

Dr. Louise McNaughton-Filion

Emergency Department Lead - Champlain Local Health Integration Network

Dr. Lisa Shepherd

Emergency Department Lead - South-West Local Health Integration Network

Roz Smith

HealthForceOntario, Associate, Ontario Physician Locum Program

Gary Switzer

CEO, Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network

Elsa van Vliet

Director, Ontario Physician Locum Programs, HealthForceOntario, Marketing and Recruitment Agency

Quick Facts

  • 71 Ontario ERs participate in the Pay-for-Results program that provides performance incentives to reduce the time patients spend in the emergency room.
  • Ontario provides funding for dedicated nurses to care for patients who arrive at ERs by ambulance to ease ambulance offload delays.
  • The Task Force will draw upon experts from the ministry, Local Health Integration Networks as well as key stakeholders such as the Ontario Medical Association and the Ontario Hospital Association.

Additional Resources

Media Contacts



Government Health and Wellness