The McGuinty government is supporting quality health care in Ontario by investing an additional $469.5 million to operate Ontario's hospitals - an increase of 4.3 per cent over last year, Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman announced today. Hospitals will receive a total of $11.3 billion in 2004/05.
"We are strengthening the financial stability of our hospitals and enhancing care in priority areas, including shorter wait times for cardiac care, cancer care, hip & knee replacements and cataract surgery," Smitherman said. "At the same time, we are building effective community services and promoting prevention and healthy living. This will relieve stress on hospitals, which have been asked to do too much, for too long, and will free them up to provide the acute care services they are built to provide."
The McGuinty government's recent investments in community-based services are key parts of its plan to transform the health care system in Ontario. Smitherman recently announced significant investments in five key areas:
- $103 million new dollars for home care during 2004/2005 and another $29.2 million in new funding for community support services to assist people to live independently at home;
- $273 million to increase the provincial share of public health care costs and a further $41.7 million to launch a three-year action plan - Operation Health Protection - to restore public health;
- $406 million in new funding for long-term care homes, which will grow to $531 million annually;
- $65 million in new funding in community mental health services; and - $111 million to enhance front-line primary care and create Family Health Teams.
This funding will allow tens of thousands more Ontarians to receive these services this year and result in a reduction in hospital visits. "This new funding represents a significant investment in the hospitals of Ontario and will go a long way to support patient care services in communities throughout Ontario," said Tony Dagnone, Board Chair for the Ontario Hospital Association. "Ontario hospitals will continue to work collaboratively with the Ontario government and other health care providers to ensure that patients have timely access to health care services when and where they need them." The government has also targeted funding this year to create 2,400 new full-time nursing positions:
- $50 million of the $11.3 billion hospital operating funding earmarked for 800 new full-time nursing positions in hospitals;
- $50 million to hire 1,000 new full-time nursing graduates and create employment opportunities for senior and injured nurses in hospitals and long-term care homes; and
- $191 million for 2,000 new staff including 600 new full-time nursing positions in long-term care homes.
These investments will help the government meet its goal of having at least 70 per cent of the province's nurses working full time.
"Despite our government's significant funding increase, some hospitals will still experience financial pressures," Smitherman said. "But we do not expect these hospitals to face the future on their own. We recognize these challenges and are giving hospitals an additional tool they've been asking for - extra time and practical assistance in balancing their budgets over two fiscal years instead of by the end of this year."
This year will see a new funding formula developed by the Joint Policy and Planning Committee (JPPC), a partnership between the ministry and the Ontario Hospital Association.
"The new funding formula advances the manner in which hospitals are funded, and responds to the needs of all Ontario hospitals for a more objective, equitable and transparent funding method," said Ken Deane, Chair, JPPC Funding Formula Committee, and President and CEO of Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor. "The formula is another key element in an accountability- based system."