Expanded Primary Health Care Team Services to Improve Access for Vulnerable Populations across the Region

May 3, 2018

People in the region will have greater access to health services in North Simcoe Muskoka through expanded services.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is investing in the expansion of primary health care teams by providing more than $325,000 to the Couchiching Family Health Team based in Orillia, and over $1.6M to the North Simcoe Family Health Team, based in Midland. Both will expand interprofessional care teams with the aim of providing comprehensive health services to patients.

Expansion of the North Simcoe Family Health Team will serve people within the North Simcoe sub-region, including Tiny, Tay, Midland, and Penetanguishene townships, many of whom are currently not able to access a Family Health Team.


L-R: Tina Christman, French Language Services Coordinator and Indigenous, Métis Health Lead, North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN; Germaine Elliott, Executive Director,  Mamaway Wiidokdaadwin (Those Who Care); Brenda Jackson, First Nation, Métis, Inuit System and Health Links Coordinator.

Programs and services will include mental health services for adults and for children/youth; a diabetes education program and foot care programs for individuals diagnosed with diabetes; enhanced chronic disease prevention and management; as well as well baby and child/well woman programs. 

“This expansion will allow us to support our community in new ways, growing our partnerships and building new relationships to ensure the programs and services which are offered address the gaps identified by families, physicians and other care partners,” said Andrew Shantz, Executive Director of the North Simcoe Family Health Team. “We believe a strong primary care system is vital to the health of our community; this investment will help ensure our local health care needs are supported as we increase quality health care close to home.”

The Couchiching Family Health Team will use its funding to create a regional Trans Health Hub that will help trans-identified individuals access and navigate their health care needs by partnering with other primary care and community organizations throughout our region, in leveraging findings from the Trans Health Needs Assessment funded by the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN and conducted by The Gilbert Centre in partnership with Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital and Laurentian University. Trans-identified individuals include transgender, transsexual, Two Spirit, gender non-conforming, gender variant, gender non-binary, agender, genderless, and numerous others. 

Programs and services will ensure medical guidelines and protocols are followed for serving Trans individuals. This will include access to mental health services, including a psychiatrist, as the Gilbert Centre report identified the particularly high need for these supports.

“The Couchiching Family Health Team is proud to have been selected for this program and looks forward to working with our community partners to educate and support the Trans and LGTBQ community in the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN (Local Health Integration Network),” said Lynne Davies, Executive Director of the Couchiching Family Health Team.

The Muskoka Community Health Hubs Demonstration Project has been providing primary care for both permanent and seasonal residents of rural Muskoka since 2015. Due to the success of this innovative primary care model, which has extensive community partnerships and support, ongoing funding has been secured. 

Team-based health care clinics help empower patients and their families and encourage them to be active participants in living healthy lives.

The North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN is also eager to work with Indigenous colleagues as they establish Mamaway Wiidokdaadwin (Those Who Care) – a comprehensive approach to primary care aimed at improving access to traditional and primary care services, addressing health inequities and improving outcomes over the long term.

Mamaway Wiidokdaadwin will allow traditional healers to work as part of a team with other health care providers, and support existing primary care teams, with a focus on keeping clients healthy, while providing a safe and positive working environment, benefiting from the complementary knowledge and skills of their colleagues.


“Our government is committed to ensuring everyone in Ontario has access to high-quality primary care, closer to home. The support of interprofessional primary care teams in the community is an important and significant step toward achieving this goal.”

— Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care


“Comprehensive team-based primary care should be the foundation of our health care system. This investment in our region will help work towards a future when all people, including those marginalized due to their gender and sexuality, benefit from a trusted medical home in their community.”

— Dr. Rebecca Van Iersel, Vice-President Clinical, North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN


“The Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle’s Mamaway Wiidokdaadwin Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Care Team, an Indigenous-led and governed initiative, will build on the long history of collaborative relationships of the Indigenous communities in the North Simcoe Muskoka region. This clinic will incorporate traditional healing knowledge and clinical practice to create a holistic, culturally safe system that respects patients and improves health.”

— Lynn Monague-Sauvé, President, Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle



  • In the 2017 Budget, the province made a commitment of $15.5 million for 2017-18 and an additional 27.8 million in 2018-19 to create and expand interprofessional primary care teams (Family Health Teams, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics, Community Health Centres) focusing on areas with the greatest needs. 
  • Ontario has also committed $329.2 million over five years to recruit and retain interprofessional primary care professionals.
  • There are currently 294 interprofessional care teams across Ontario delivering care to more than four million people.
  • The province is providing $23 million per year over three years to improve care coordination for complex patients through the Health Links initiative.




For more information contact:

Shelby Rushton

Communications Coordinator 


705-721-8010 ext. 2274