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More kids = growing need for children’s health care in eastern Ontario: new study

Ottawa – The child and youth population in Ottawa and surrounding areas is projected to grow by 30 percent over the next 20 years and their health care needs are also growing and changing, according to a report prepared for the Champlain Local Health Integration Network by a Steering Committee of individuals and organizations led by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario – Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre.

In commissioning this work, the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) becomes the very first LHIN in the province to take such a comprehensive look at pediatric healthcare.

THRIVE: The future of integrated health service planning for children and youth in the Champlain region paints a clear picture of kids’ healthcare:

  • Kids in Renfrew visit the Emergency department at five times the rate of kids in Ottawa. Children in Prescott-Russell and Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry go to Emergency twice as often as Ottawa kids.
  • Kids across Champlain region are less likely to be admitted to hospital than the Ontario average.
  • Developing innovative models of care over time will be important to meet increasing demand for pediatric services. Otherwise the region will need 140 additional family physicians in coming years to deal with the growing population of children and youth. More hospital beds and increased Emergency Department capacity would also be required.
  • Families spend more than 15 million hours (the equivalent of $530 million) each year to care for their sick children – an overwhelming load that, if left unaddressed, will need to grow a further 10% to match population growth in coming years.
  • Mental health, developmental and behavioural issues are increasing far more quickly than the resources available for families who need them. Gaps in services for addictions and eating disorders are particularly clear.
  • Our region’s most vulnerable receive fragmented care from multiple providers, which is further complicated by the lack of a common electronic health record system.

“I’d like to thank the Champlain LHIN for its commitment and interest in kids’ healthcare. This study helps us better understand what needs to be done to make sure kids get the care they need when they need it,” said Alex Munter, Chief Executive Officer of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre. “Putting kids on the path to health reduces their lifelong health care costs, increases the economic productivity of their parents and increases their economic prosperity as adults. Most importantly, it lets them live their best life.”

THRIVE also makes the case for a child and youth oriented home care strategy. Children who require home care typically have intense and complex needs that require expert pediatric care, and in this region our youngest are receiving 19% fewer services than elsewhere in Ontario. This gap is having a huge impact across the LHIN: more frequent and longer hospital stays; and parents forced to quit their jobs or care for children 24 hours a day to monitor life-threatening issues.

With the Champlain LHIN Board’s acceptance of the report on July 26, CHEO – OCTC will begin to incorporate THRIVE findings and recommendations into its future programming process and will continue to work with the LHIN and all stakeholders on making improvements to improve access to care for the growing children’s population.

“There are inconsistencies in child and youth health and health care outcomes across the Ottawa region that suggest social determinants should inform all future planning activities,” said Dr. Lindy Samson, Chief of Staff for CHEO-OCTC. “Children and youth who are at risk or who are living in high risk neighbourhoods should be our priority, as should be providing more culturally appropriate health services for Indigenous, Francophone and newcomer children and youth.”

CHEO-OCTC will also continue working with community providers to further enhance and integrate care throughout the region with initiatives like the Emergency Department’s outreach program.

The full report and recommendations can be found here.


The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario – Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (CHEO –OCTC) is the leading provider of specialized pediatric health services in Canada's capital. CHEO’s programs help over 500,000 children and youth each year in Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec, Nunavut and parts of Northern Ontario. As a world-class research centre and teaching hospital, for over 40 years CHEO has changed young lives in our community, while our innovations change young lives around the world. For more than 65 years, OCTC has been providing specialized care for children and youth with disabilities, including cerebral palsy, complex needs associated with congenital conditions, developmental delay, autism spectrum disorders and brain injury. The two previously separate organizations recently joined forces to become one organization, stronger together for kids and families.

For more information, please contact:

Alison Evans
(613) 737-7600 ext. 2658

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