Ontario Releases Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Summary of Key Announcements for Health and Social Services

November 8, 2019 | Karima Kanani, Meg Berkovitz (née Spevak)

The Ontario Government released the 2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: A Plan to Build Ontario Together on November 6, 2019 (the “Economic Plan”). The Economic Plan is designed to support the government’s vision for “a future with stateoftheart public hospitals, where service levels are high, wait times are low, and transitions to and from home are easy… and longterm care homes where our seniors age with dignity.”

The Economic Plan announces investments in hospitals, long-term care, home and community care, mental health and addictions and a number of other health and social services. Some key funding announcements include:

  • an additional $68 million in funding for small and medium sized, and multi-site hospitals (in addition to $384 million that was announced in the 2019 Budget);
  • $17 billion in capital grants over the next ten years to expand hospital infrastructure;
  • investment of an additional $278.5 million in the Ontario Autism Program, for a total of $600 million in annual program funding and working towards implementing a needs-based system for delivery of autism support services to children and youth across the province;
  • investment of $3.8 billion over ten years to create a comprehensive, connected system of mental health and addiction services and housing supports;
  • commitment to add 15,000 new long-term care beds in five years and redesign 15,000 existing beds to modern design standards;
  • publicly funded dental care of low-income seniors, with services to be accessed through public health units, community health centres and aboriginal health access centres across the province; and
  • elimination of the $2 per prescription co-payment for residents of long-term care homes.

The Economic Plan also introduces new service models, initiatives to expand clinical scope of practice and fiscal oversight, including:

  • a new model for providing emergency health care with the pilot starting in early 2020 for select 911 emergency patients to access care, if appropriate, in mental health crisis centres, hospices or on-scene treatment, and referrals to health care providers in the community setting;
  • support for innovative, integrated care models, including support for innovative partnerships between hospitals and other sectors to enable seamless patient transition to the community;
  • development of regulations by health regulatory colleges to enable the expansion of the scope of practice for certain health professionals, such as chiropodists, midwives, nurse practitioners, optometrists and pharmacists; and
  • initiative to improve OHIP transparency and changes in oversight and accountability of OHIP funded services.

Additional funding terms and requirements for new program initiatives will be released over time as health system transformation continues across Ontario. Miller Thomson’s Health Industry Group will continue to monitor developments. The full text of the Economic Plan can be accessed here.

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