Kathleen Wynne boosts hospital spending 4.6% in latest health care announcement

Published On March 22, 2018 | By HN Staff | Business, News, Politics

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne promised to expand the province’s OHIP+ program to include people 65 and over. [Justin Tang | Canadian Press]

Ryann Kahler

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced a 4.6 per cent increase in funding for Ontario hospitals, which is an increase of $822 million in 2018 -2019.

“We are increasing hospital budgets across Ontario by $822 million to insure that you, the people we all rely on for care have the resources that you need to deliver that care,” said Wynne at a campaign-style announcement Thursday at North York General Hospital.

North York General Hospital will receive $10.8 million in additional funding in 2018-2019. This will include 550 additional MRI hours for high-risk patients to support the hospital’s busy emergency department.

Last week, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office said a 4.3 per cent increase in hospital budgets was needed to keep up with inflation and population demands.

It was Wynne’s third day of pre-budget spending announcements.

The announcements come after a government throne speech Monday that promised a significant funding commitment for mental health in the provincial budget, which will be tabled on March 28.

On Wednesday, Wynne announced a promise to spend $2.1 billion over the next four years to help “rebuild” the province’s mental health care system.

“We’ll add 2,475 new supportive housing beds for those who need additional care and support where they live,” said Wynne. “We’ll provide publicly funded psychotherapies for up to 300,000 more people, from mild to moderate anxiety and depression. We’ll create thousands of new spaces for children and youth to improve access across Ontario. And we’ll hire 1,400 more health care providers to reduce wait times and provide that care.”

She added that every high school will have access to an additional mental health worker and colleges and universities will have access to more mental health services on campus.

Wynne said there will also be a new help-line once the system is fully set up, which will offer crisis counseling and referrals 24/7.

“Time for more care, not cutting back. That’s what people need,” said Wynne.

Wynne said that the mental health strategy has been in place since 2011 and it takes time to build.

Coincidently, these announcements take place right before the spring election, which Wynne refers to the process of the budget taking time and “that’s why the timing is what it is.”

She adds that they hope the budget will be passed way before the election takes place.

On Tuesday, Wynne visited the Leaside Curling club, where she announced that the provincial Liberal party would make prescription drugs free for those over 65 if she were re-elected in June.

Wynne said more than 4,400 prescription drugs would be available free of charge to seniors through an expansion of the government’s OHIP+ program.

On Jan. 1, Ontario introduced OHIP+ Children and Youth Pharmacare, which made eligible prescription drugs free for everyone 24 and under. By expanding OHIP+ to seniors in Budget 2018, people 65 and over will now save an average of $240 every year.

“I believe that government exists to do the things that people can’t do by themselves.” – Kathleen Wynne

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