Ford and Jones to meet with feds over health-care funding

Ford and Jones to meet with feds over health-care funding

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones will meet with federal officials Thursday to discuss the details of the new healthcare funding proposal, which officials say is concerned about timelines and patient-focused care.

The 10-year, $196.1 billion proposal, which was released on Tuesday, increases the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and funding through bilateral agreements with provinces by about $46.2 billion. In order to access the funds, provinces have to meet certain conditions, including a commitment to hiring of new family physicians and nurses, clearing the COVID-19 surgical backlog and an investment in mental health.

“There is no doubt that any new health care spending and investments we will accept,” Jones told reporters on Wednesday. “I will say that I do have concerns about the timelines.”

“When deals come from the federal government in 10, and five year increments, it makes it very challenging, whether you’re looking at new medical schools and residency positions, training and hiring new nurses, those are all things that take literally decades. ”

The ministry of health confirmed that she and Ford will be meeting with Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc in Toronto tomorrow to go over the details of the bilateral agreement.

“I’m confident that we’ll get the Ts crossed and the Is dotted. We’re grateful for the offer, we’re grateful for sitting down with the Prime Minister but we want sustainability. We need certainty,” Ford told reporters Wednesday morning.

HOW WILL FUNDING BE BROKEN DOWN?

The premier’s office said Ontario is being offered $776 million in immediate, emergency top-up funding and another $8.4 billion in healthcare money over the next decade.

The government, however, is not speaking about how they hope to use the new funds; however Jones said more generally they want to improve the patient experience while ensuring continuity so that any investments they make are not “one and done programs.”

Community and home care were mentioned by the health minister as examples of where they may invest.

“I was a little surprised that there wasn’t more focus on community care and home care. To me it is a very natural place for that patient experience to be improved and enhanced,” she said.

The emergency top-up is meant to help the province tackle emergency pressures in pediatric hospitals, emergency rooms and surgical centres.

Advocates have stressed they hope the investments include a substantial amount in health human resources, including doctors and nurses.

“We are asking that whatever money is new, 10 per cent of that new money, in addition to whatever money we are already spending in nursing, be dedicated to nursing, because if not we will continue to have a system that will continue to collapse ,” Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, told CTV News Toronto.

She is also stressed that she hopes none of the funding is put towards private clinics, and instead is funneled into hospitals so that operating rooms can open up with appropriate staffing.

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles said she is waiting to see what happens as part of the bilateral agreement negotiations to see what strings will be attached.

“I want to make sure that the federal money isn’t going into shareholders’ pockets,” she said.


With files from Siobhan Morris

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