NEWS ARTICLE

Ontario Budget 2018

2018-04-03

Details and highlights from the Ontario budget. (http://budget.ontario.ca/2018/chapter-1.html)

Highlights

Through these increased supports, care providers will be able to continue to provide Ontarians with access to high-quality, appropriate and timely care, including:

  • $305 million to support hospitals with service demands related to population growth and aging, including pediatric and specialty psychiatric hospitals;
  • $187 million for more hospital beds including new medical and surgical beds, mental health beds and beds for long-term ventilated patients;
  • $95 million for clinical services and facility costs to open and operate new patient spaces; and
  • $54 million to increase access to specialized services such as bariatric surgeries, organ transplantations, neurosurgical services and critical care, so Ontario can continue to be a world leader in health care.

Ontario will also improve essential programs to keep pace with increasing demand and support innovative advances in clinical care. They include:

  • $48 million for over 26,000 more MRI hours, and 14,000 more surgical and medical procedures;
  • $40 million for 780 more cancer surgeries, over 26,000 more gastrointestinal endoscopy procedures and over 74,000 more systemic treatments (chemotherapy), including consultations, and intravenous and oral/hormonal treatments;
  • $25 million for more than 3,000 additional cardiac procedures;
  • $5 million for new adult critical care beds; and
  • $4 million to expand innovative, advanced stroke care with 135 additional procedures for endovascular treatment.

Building on the success of OHIP+, in this Budget, Ontario is taking the next steps to expand access to, and improve the affordability of, prescription drugs.

Starting in August 2019, OHIP+ will be expanded to seniors, eliminating the annual deductible and co-payment for seniors under the ODB program — saving the average senior approximately $240 annually. Seniors’ prescription medications funded through the ODB program will be free-of-charge, regardless of income. This represents an investment of about $575 million per year by 2020–21.

The government will introduce a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program for individuals and their families who do not have coverage from an extended health plan, starting in summer 2019. This program would reimburse participants for up to 80 per cent of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses, up to an annual maximum of $400 for singles and $600 for couples, plus $50 for each child in the family. Final design will be informed by consultation. This represents a total investment of more than $800 million over the first two years of the program.

Supporting Compassionate End-of-Life Care

To provide compassionate palliative and end-of-life care for more patients and their families, Ontario will invest an additional $15 million in 2018–19 to improve access to community-based palliative care. Key initiatives include:

  • Improving access to community-based end-of-life services by completing the government’s goal of opening 20 new residential hospices across the province;
  • Providing more non-medical supports to patients and caregivers in the community through an additional investment to providers of visiting hospice volunteer services;
  • Providing palliative care training for health service providers working in First Nation and urban Indigenous communities, with an emphasis on delivering culturally appropriate services; and
  • Supporting Compassionate Communities, which leverages the skills and capacities of local health care providers and community members to ensure that patients and caregivers receive holistic care that optimizes quality of life, helps them deal with loss and improves population health.

Mental Health

In this Budget, the government is making a historic investment of an additional $2.1 billion over the next four years in a more integrated, high-quality mental health and addictions system for people of all ages across the province — so they can recover and live healthy and meaningful lives in their communities. This brings the total investment in mental health and addictions services in the province to more than $17 billion over four years.

Structured forms of psychotherapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy and interpersonal therapy are effective, evidence-based and time-limited treatments for common mental health and addictions conditions like depression and anxiety. These evidence-based treatments can be provided one-on-one or through group therapy by trained care professionals. These treatments help clients learn to think in ways that strengthen their mental health and help them become more emotionally resilient. The result is that people can engage more positively in personal relationships and their day-to-day activities. The government will:

  • Help up to 160,000 more people across the province with anxiety and depression by increasing access to publicly funded structured psychotherapy, in primary care settings and through mental health and addictions community agencies; and
  • Provide standardized training to primary care teams and community mental health and addictions agencies so they can provide high-quality structured psychotherapy services.

Expanding Services for Children in their Communities

Building on the transformation of the child and youth mental health system through the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, the government is investing $570 million over four years to improve community services across the province. The government is:

  • Providing more community-based services, such as counselling, therapy and walk-in clinics, to more than 12,000 young people in 2018–19, growing to approximately 46,000 over four years;
  • Implementing a needs-based funding allocation for community-based child and youth mental health services, which will recognize each community’s child and youth population and relative need, so that agencies can respond effectively to local demands and targeted priorities; and
  •  Providing First Nation, Inuit and Métis children and youth with a range of culturally appropriate and preventive mental health services that are community-designed and delivered, and increasing access to front-line support and programming in every First Nation, Inuit, Métis and urban Indigenous community.

Ontario’s Strategy to Combat the Opioid Crisis

Individuals, families and communities across Ontario continue to be impacted by opioid addiction and overdoses. In response to the current crisis, the government is taking action by investing more than $222 million in the implementation of its Strategy to Prevent Opioid Addiction and Overdose.

To combat the crisis, Ontario is working with the Opioid Emergency Task Force, which includes front-line workers and people with lived experience. This government will provide person-centered, stigma-free services to people in their own communities, including funding supervised consumption services and overdose prevention sites.