Supporting a thriving health science sector in Oakville: Putting Patients First

Supporting a thriving health science sector in Oakville: Putting Patients First
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Kristen Curry

Kristen Curry

Kristen Curry is the Communications Coordinator at the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, and a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University where she received a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Communication and Media Studies with Business Management Option.

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At a time when the province is trying to address the major challenge of fiscal sustainability, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce is suggesting a different approach to fixing the province’s health care system and putting patients first.

In a report released today in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Chamber network is calling on the provincial government to turn its focus from budget cuts to empowering the health care system to become an economic and productivity driver that is responsive to emerging innovation being developed in our own backyard. The report, Adopting Our Advantage: Supporting a thriving health science sector in Ontario, is the third in a series of health policy reports and is part of the organization’s year long Health Transformation Initiative.

After a series of round table discussions in Oakville, it became apparent that Oakville’s health science sector is struggling to attract local capital, find experienced managerial talent, and access the most important market in the province – the health care system. These challenges mean that entrepreneurs are more likely to partner with foreign investors, as they struggle to find the resources that would give them a strong foothold in Ontario.

“In order for the government to receive a return on its investments in research, and patients in Oakville to gain access to the kind of innovations that will improve their quality of life, there needs to be a unified strategy to support Ontario’s health science sector” stated Kerry Colborne, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Today, we are not supporting our own discoveries. If we were able to change that, it would have a great impact on our provincial economy, on our provincial health industry and on our local health care system.

Oakville’s Town Council recently endorsed the land use parameters for a Health, Science and Technology District (HSTD) located at the northeast corner of Third Line and Dundas Street West. “We are pleased to see that the Town of Oakville recognizes the need for innovation related to health care. We hope to see them move as quickly as possible on this,” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.

The provincial government invests a significant amount of money into research funding, education and seed development funds. However, if the companies that emerge from this environment are unable to access the markets or resources they need to scale their business, they are more likely to leave the province causing Ontario taxpayers to lose out on our investment. With innovation being identified as a priority at both the provincial and federal levels, now is the time for government to adopt a cohesive strategy to address the challenges facing this sector and take hold of the opportunity presented by our strengths in health sciences that will lead to a self-sustaining, vibrant health economy.

“If we can establish an integrated system that has a collective vision, the potential rewards for Ontario are great. A lack of focused investment in the province’s home-grown innovation will only lead to missed opportunity.” added Allan O’Dette, President of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

The report’s recommendations suggest a cohesive approach to health care that would make it easier to capitalize innovative health science start-ups, attract and retain experienced talent, and provide market access to the public health care system. For this to take place, Ontario requires a dedicated vision for health science innovation, one that recognizes our competitive advantages and makes use of our single-payer system as an economic driver.


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