Ontario signals acceptance of health deal, raises concerns about funding timelines


TORONTO — Ontario’s premier and health minister say the province will accept any new spending and investments on health care from the federal government, but they are concerned about the timelines of the funding being offered by Ottawa.

Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones are set to meet Thursday in Toronto with federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc to discuss the details of proposed new money.

The federal government presented an offer Tuesday to the provinces and territories for an additional $17 billion over 10 years to the Canada Health Transfer, an immediate one-time $2 billion top-up for this year to help provinces ease the intense pressure on emergency rooms and children’s hospitals, and $25 billion for targeted funding for family doctors, mental health, surgical backlogs and health data systems.

The premiers said the offer will increase the federal share of health care costs from 22 per cent to 24 per cent next year, far short of the 35 per cent they were seeking.

Still, Ford and Jones appear prepared to accept the deal, but want to discuss what they call the short-term nature of the funding.

“I’m confident we’ll get the T’s crossed, the I’s dotted,” Ford said Wednesday morning. “We’re grateful for the offer. We’re grateful for sitting down with the prime minister, but we want sustainability. We need certainty moving forward, not just for a few years, five or 10 years, but decades to come.”

Jones, speaking after a palliative care announcement, said she hopes to hear from Duclos “how we can ensure that these are not short-term, one-and-done programs.”

“When deals come from the federal government in 10- and five-year increments, it makes it very challenging,” she said.

“Whether you’re looking at new medical schools, new residency positions, training and hiring new nurses – those are all things that take literally decades and will be a commitment of our government for decades.”

Jones also said she is “frankly surprised” that there hasn’t been more interest and conversations from the federal government on home and community care.

“To me, it is a very natural place for that patient experience to be improved and enhanced,” she said.

“We know that the vast majority of people, whether they are aging in place, or recovering post-surgery, often have a component of their treatment where they are at home, needing less care, but still needing important care as they recover or age.”



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