At 3:30 p.m. on November 6, 2019, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, The Honourable Rod Phillips, introduced the 2019 Fall Economic Statement. There is a clear change in tone from the government compared to 2018 and this year’s Statement underlines that tone change.
The announcement confirmed the government’s plan to invest in critical services including funding for small-and medium sized hospitals, public health units, and childcare programs. Maintaining that the government would take a “balanced and prudent” approach to governing, the new projected deficit was lowered to $9.0 billion, compared to a $10.3 billion deficit projection estimated in the spring budget.
“A Plan to Build Ontario Together” suggests positive investments to ensure the sustainability of public services and more money in the pockets of Ontarians, including:
- Reducing the small business Corporate Income Tax rate to 3.2% starting January 2020
- Ending hallway health care with a $68 million investment in small- and medium-sized and multi-site hospitals
- Investing $1.3 billion in critical services
- Keeping the unemployment rate low with 272,400 net new jobs created since June 2018
The Statement provides the following health updates:
- Confirming the creation of Ontario Health to integrate six health agencies and 14 Local Health Integration Networks
- Modernizing the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) to reduce inappropriate billings by doctors and to recover funds from incorrect billings
- $68 million investment in small- and medium-sized and multi-site hospitals to reduce hallway health care
- This funding would be in addition to the $384 million that was announced in the 2019 budget
- $17 billion in capital grants over the next 10 years to expand hospital infrastructure
- Adding 15,000 new long-term care beds in five years and a commitment to redevelop 15,000 existing beds to modern design standards
- Removing the $2 per prescription co-pays in long term care homes and providing savings to senior residents of approximately $150 each year
- An annual investment of $90 million to provide dental care for seniors with an income of $19,300 or less
- $45 million in new funding for innovative integrated care models to address hallway health care in high-need areas and an investment of $63 million for existing integrated care models to improve coordinated care
- Investing $3.8 billion over 10 years to create a connected system of mental health and addictions services and housing supports
- Making health care more convenient by modernizing the patient experience with a Digital First for Health strategy
- The Strategy will create more choices for how patients interact with the system
- Expanding the of scope of practice for health professions such as chiropodists, midwives, nurse practitioners, optometrists, and pharmacists
Investing an additional $278.5 million in the province’s autism program
Committing to support Ontario’s first responders coping with PTSD
Read the Government of Ontario’s press release here.
Read the full Fall Economic Statement here.