Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday $3.1 billion in funding over the next year years aimed at easing the health-care crisis in Ontario.
Under the agreement, Premier Doug Ford’s government has committed to spending that money on creating new primary care teams and boost access to family doctors.
“This investment will help increase access to family doctors, reduce wait times, hire more health-care workers, and ensure faster care for Canadians, including mental health care,” the federal government states in a release.
As part of the deal, Ontario is expected to add “hundreds of new family physicians and nurse practitioners, as well as thousands of new nurses and personal support workers.”
It’s hoped this investment will also help reduce wait times in emergency rooms and ease the backlog for surgeries.
The agreement will also make it easier for Canadian and internationally trained doctors and health professionals to practise in Ontario.
Trudeau and Ford will officially sign off on the agreement at a news conference in King City set for 10:30 a.m. on Friday.
Trudeau asked about Ontario’s private delivery of health care
In an exclusive interview with Breakfast Television on Friday, reporter Tammie Sutherland asked Trudeau if there are any conditions on the new funding, given that last year the province passed legislation to move some publicly-funded procedures to private, for-profit clinics.
“At the core of every dollar the federal government sends to Ontario or any other province needs to be a commitment to maintain our public health-care system,” Trudeau said. “We need to make sure that everywhere across the country the quality of services, the speed of services has no influence by someone’s socioeconomic level or income level.”
When asked if he has concerns with the province’s move to have some publicly-funded procedures in private clinics, Trudeau didn’t specifically mention Ontario, but said in the past, the federal government has “pulled back transfers from provinces that have gone too far down the privatization road.”
“We have increasingly seen particularly conservative premiers across the country experimenting with more private services … we need to make sure the integrity of the Canada Health Act and the strength of our publicly-funded health-care system holds.”
Trudeau said the health-care funding boost Ottawa is giving the province will be reviewed after three years to ensure it met the needs of Ontarians.
“This $3.1 billion boost investment we’re giving over the next three years will be renewed or renegotiated three years from now and we will look very carefully at how this was delivered, whether it made real differences, whether they hit the markers or not,” he said.
“There are there are checks and balances in the system to make sure those improvements happen.”
The new money comes almost a year after the federal government reached a 10-year agreement in principle with the province on a new health-care deal.
The shortage of workers is one of the issues plaguing the province’s health-care system.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the union representing some health-care workers in the province, said the province is facing staffing crisis that could only get worse if the province doesn’t step in.
Union leaders say the province needs to invest an additional $1.25 billion annually over the next five years to help improve staffing levels and boost capacity.
With files from Michael Ranger