In the mid 1980s, the provincial government developed a strategic plan for a comprehensive system of health services for the elderly (A NewAGEnda). Part of the plan was to use the expertise developed by the academic health sciences centres to help improve the quality of geriatric services provided by Ontario's acute and chronic hospitals. Over a period of five or six years, the Minister of Health established regional geriatric programs in each of the province's five academic health sciences centres:

History of the RGP of Eastern Ontario


Links to websites of the RGPs of Ontario:

Program Location
Regional Geriatric Programs of Ontario Ontario
North East Specialized Geriatric Services Sudbury
North West Specialized Geriatric Services Thunder Bay
Regional Geriatric Program Central Hamilton
RGP of Eastern Ontario Ottawa
Regional Geriatric Program of Toronto Toronto
Seniors Care Network Cobourg
Specialized Geriatric Services, South East Ontario Kingston
Specialized Geriatric Services of Southwestern Ontario London
Specialized Geriatric Services, Mississauga-Halton Mississauga-Halton
North Simcoe Muskoka Specialized Geriatric Services Program Barrie
Specialized Geriatric Services, Waterloo-Wellington Waterloo-Wellington

In its Guidelines for the Establishment of Regional Geriatric Programs in Teaching Hospitals, the Ministry of Health defined a regional geriatric program as: "a comprehensive, coordinated system of health services for the elderly within a region" with the objective of: "assisting the elderly to live Independently in their own communities thereby preventing unnecessary and inappropriate institutionalization."

According to the guidelines, each academic health science centre would develop a "regional geriatric medicine unit" and an array of associated clinical services.

The original guidelines saw regional geriatric programs as the clinical service arm of academic geriatrics in health sciences centres. At the time that these "service" programs were established, the academic health sciences centres were promised additional provincial resources to support their broader role in geriatric education and training. However, apart from the 10-year grant to McMaster University to establish the Educational Centre for Aging and Health, the centres received no funding to enhance geriatric education. As a result, the regional programs had to stretch their budgets to provide clinical service, and professional education, training, capacity building, research evaluation and advocacy.