The Province of Ontario announced an additional $3.3 billion to support frontline health care workers and increase health care capacity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, Premier Doug Ford said the funding will allow the province to take immediate action to increase the number of assessment centres, add more acute care and critical care beds, improve testing and provide more protective equipment for frontline workers.
Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID‑19, announced on Wednesday, includes $2.1 billion in “new and urgent funding to combat and contain the spread of coronavirus”, as well as $1.2 billion to continue the government’s long-term plan to build a sustainable health care system for those in need.
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“Our government will spare no expense to protect the health and safety of our frontline health care workers,” Ford said. “They’re always looking out for us and our government is looking out for them. We’ll do everything within our power to ensure our frontlines workers have the necessary resources to take down COVID-19 and keep individuals and families safe.”
The new investments in Ontario’s health care system include:
- Investing $935 million more in hospitals, including $594 million to continue working on expanding capacity and $341 million to prepare for COVID-19 with an additional 1,000 acute care and 500 critical care beds and to fund assessment centres.
- Increasing public health funding by $160 million to support COVID-19 monitoring and testing, including investments in virtual care and Telehealth Ontario.
- Investing $243 million for surge capacity in long-term care facilities, 24/7 screening of staff and visitors, more staffing to support infection control and additional supplies and equipment.
- Investing $75 million to supply personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to frontline staff.
- Dedicating $1 billion COVID-19 contingency fund, as part of the additional health care investments.
“These are extraordinary times that demand extraordinary measures,” Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health said.
“Ontario’s historic investments to dramatically expand hospital capacity and support the heroes working on the frontlines of our health care system will ensure we are able to respond to the growing challenge of COVID-19 and protect the health and wellbeing of all Ontarians.”
Ontario unveiled a $17 billion aid package for the province in response to COVID-19 this week.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips released Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update), delivered in pace of the province’s now delayed annual budget, which is being released in November.
The initial plan includes $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and direct support for people and jobs.
The province said it also will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets.