Putting Primary Care at the Centre of Ontario’s Health System: DLSPH Researchers to Advise Primary Care Groups

March 02, 2023

By Heidi Singer on November 30, 2022

With Canadian health care systems in crisis, a University of Toronto researcher is working to inform stakeholders on building high-performing integrated primary care systems – work that she hopes will support them to make real change in the sector.

ProfMonica Aggarwal is leading a research collaboration between the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH) and the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario (AFHTO), the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) and the Section on General and Family Practice of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). As a leading expert in primary care systems across Canada,  Aggarwal has consulted at the federal and provincial levels on multiple occasions. She recently completed a 13 cross-comparative study of primary care transformation in Canada, which identified over 100 primary care innovations in the country.

“I feel honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to work with inspiring and passionate  primary care leaders who truly want to make a difference for the primary care sector in Ontario,” says Aggarwal, a professor in DLSPH’s Division of Clinical and Public Health. “The leaders of these organizations have a deep understanding of the issues in health care and recognize the critical role that evidence-based research can have to advance improvements in the primary care sector. ”

The partners decided together to focus first on showing how Ontario could implement compensation models that encourage and reward team-based care.

“There’s a real desire to build and spread interprofessional teams,” says Aggarwal. “However, we are not seeing the results expected from mainstream models in Canada. I think this is not because teams don’t work but because they are not being implemented in a manner that would allow them to be successful. Provider compensation is a key piece of the puzzle.”

She is working with DLSPH Prof. Ross Upshur, head of the Division of Clinical Public Health. Together, they are developing collaborations with researchers and primary care leaders in Ontario, Canada, and abroad to meet the research needs of knowledge users.

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