Transforming Healthcare in Ontario: An Interview with Anne Hayes

Dec 18, 2023 | Blog

Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) is set to establish a new School of Medicine (SOM), aiming to reshape the foundations of medical education and to generate value in Brampton’s healthcare system and beyond. Spindle had the privilege of sitting down and speaking with Anne Hayes, our specialist in health policy and evidence translation, on her involvement with the TMU project. With over two decades of international experience spearheading successful policy initiatives across government, academia, and industry, Anne offers invaluable insights into this innovative venture set to redefine Ontario’s healthcare landscape.

Spindle: Given your background in healthcare policy, what aspects of the TMU project resonated most with you, and why?

AH: For me, the most exciting piece was taking an incredible vision for both the medical school itself and the integrated health centers (the practice-based learning component) and to give it life, reinforce it and ground it in evidence.

Spindle: From your perspective broadly as an expert in healthcare policy, what implications does the TMU medical school hold for healthcare and medical education in Ontario and Canada?

AH: I think that this is a huge opportunity for Brampton to become a leader in Ontario, not only in how to deliver medical education, but also in how to deliver cutting edge evidence-based and culturally-responsive care to populations with complex needs. This project could become a showcase for Ontario of how to do primary care in the most effective and efficient way. The synergy between care and the medical school is a central component of this initiative.

Spindle: In your opinion, what are the key elements that are needed for successfully gathering government support for projects like TMU’s new medical school?

AH: There are three things that come to mind, firstly when trying to achieve government support, it is important to anchor the proposal in current government policies, programs, and priorities for the health system. So we centred the proposal around the Ontario Health Teams structure. But also in what we know to be the most effective and efficient primary care mechanisms, practices and arrangements that exist now and that could be built on. Secondly, I think we achieved government support because the paper was granular when stating the evidence that supports the proposal, the core elements and how those elements will contribute to the quintuple healthcare improvement aims. Thirdly, it is important to listen! When we negotiate with the government we have to listen to their interests and how they like things positioned, so even if you speak about similar things you need to position them to resonate and respond in a similar manner and try to align as much as possible.

In essence, our success in securing government support stemmed from a multi-faceted strategy—anchoring our proposal in existing policies, presenting detailed evidence, and actively listening and aligning with government interests. I’m excited about the potential this project holds to transform primary care in Ontario!