On March 24, 2021, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board, Peter Bethlenfalvy released Ontario’s budget for 2021, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. The 2021 Budget is a response to COVID-19 and is the second Budget released during the pandemic.
Protecting People’s Health is the first pillar of the budget, with the government’s investment to protect people’s health totaling $16.3 billion. This investment includes three main initiatives, including defeating COVID-19, fixing long-term care, and caring for people. Protecting Our Economy is the second pillar, with $23.3 billion allocated to supporting families and workers, supporting jobs, protecting Ontario’s environment, supporting communities, and building a modern government.
Protecting People’s Health
Highlights from Ontario’s plan to defeat COVID-19 include:
- $1 billion available for province-wide vaccination plan to vaccinate every person in the province who wants to be vaccinated, including $50 million to support vaccinations in First Nations and urban Indigenous communities.
- $4 million to support First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations for contact tracing, self-isolation, and resources to combat food insecurity and housing shortages.
- Over $3.7 billion over two years, including $2.3 billion in 2021–22, in a comprehensive COVID-19 testing strategy.
- $1.4 billion available for personal protective equipment to protect frontline workers.
- $1.8 billion in the hospital sector in 2021-22, which includes:
- $760 million to support continued response to COVID-19,
- $300 million to reduce surgical backlogs from delayed or cancelled surgeries and procedures due to COVID-19, and
- $778 million for patient needs, including caring for a growing and aging population, supporting hospital beds, providing clinical services, and specialty psychiatric hospitals, specialty children hospitals, and small hospitals.
Highlights from Ontario’s plan on fixing long-term care include:
- Up to $650 million in additional funding in 2021-22 to protect and stabilize long-term care homes, as well as providing $30 million to recruit, retain, and train infection prevention and control staff in long-term care homes.
- $933 million over the next four years to build more long‐term care beds.
- Up to $1.9 billion annually by 2024–25, or $4.9 billion over the next four years to increase the average hours of daily direct care to four hours, from the current 2.75 hours.
- Over $121 million to support the accelerated training of almost 9,000 personal support workers (PSWs).
Highlights from Ontario’s plan on caring for people include:
- $21 billion in capital grants over 10 years to build, expand and renew hospital infrastructure across Ontario.
- $175 million in 2021-22 as part of a $3.8 billion investment over 10 years to provide more and better care for people struggling with mental health and addiction issues.
- $2.1 million over three years to support victims of crime, specifically geared towards assisting survivors of domestic violence and other crimes like human trafficking.
- $1.6 million over two years to support the Anti‐Racism and Anti‐Hate Grant program, which will support community-based anti‐racism initiatives focusing on anti‐Black racism, anti‐Indigenous racism, anti‐Semitism, and Islamophobia.
- $240 million over four years beginning in 2021-22 to support children and youth with special needs and their families.
- $50 million in 2021-22 to ensure IPAC resources and expertise are available across the health system.
- $500 million to support healthcare research.
- $18.2 million over three years to help address violence against First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women and girls.
The full 2021 budget can be accessed on the government’s website. Miller Thomson’s Health Industry Group will be continuing to monitor developments related to these new investments for the health sector. We remain on call to answer your questions and support your legal needs.