Ontario is making major investments in the health care system to address capacity issues, reduce wait times and provide better care closer to home.
Premier Kathleen Wynne was at the annual meeting of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario in Toronto today to discuss how the government is supporting nurses by strengthening the health care system so it can better meet the needs of a growing and aging population.
Premier Wynne shared how Ontario is increasing funding for the hospital sector with an $822 million investment in 2018-19 — a major increase of 4.6 per cent on average. This increase, in addition to the over 3 per cent provided last year, is allowing hospitals to expand essential services, provide faster access to critical care and priority procedures, and invest with precision in the specific needs of their patients and community. Ontario is also providing more than $19 billion over the next 10 years to build and expand hospitals. Together, these investments support nurses and other hospital staff in providing better care.
To create a stronger, more integrated mental health system in Ontario, the government is launching a historic expansion of mental health and addiction services, with a funding boost of $2.1 billion that brings total mental health care spending to more than $17 billion over four years. This is the biggest mental health investment in Canadian history and will ensure that people are able to access mental health care where and when they need it.
The Premier also highlighted how the province will continue to improve care in long-term care (LTC) homes by:
- Investing more than $300 million over the next three years, including $50 million in 2018-19, to hire an additional registered nurse at every LTC home
- Increasing the amount of direct care for each person in LTC to a provincial average of four hours daily by 2022, providing residents with more direct, one-on-one patient care, including nursing, personal support and therapeutic care
- Creating 5,000 new LTC beds across Ontario by 2022. These beds, which will include nearly 500 for Indigenous communities, are part of Ontario’s commitment to create more than 30,000 new beds over the next decade.
Supporting Ontario’s nurses in providing better and more accessible care is part of the government’s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free preschool child care from 2 ½ to kindergarten.
- From 2013 to 2017, the number of nurses working in Ontario increased by 9,589. The number of RN employment positions in the hospital sector increased by 2,356 between 2012 and 2017.
- The government is investing an additional $650 million in home care over the next three years. This includes $180 million in new funding in 2018-19 for an estimated 2.8 million more hours of personal support — including respite for caregivers, 284,000 more nursing visits and 58,000 more therapy visits.
- Last April, Ontario provided nurse practitioners with the authority to prescribe controlled drugs and substances.
- Across the province, up to 40 major hospital projects are under construction or in planning stages.
- Since 2010, Ontario has created 27 new nurse practitioner-led clinics, providing faster access to family health care for more than 60,000 patients across the province.
- Ontario is boosting access to primary care by investing $102 million over three years to support the creation or expansion of interprofessional primary care teams. In 2017-18, this will help create 19 new or expanded teams that will recruit nearly 100 new health professionals, including nurse practitioners and registered nurses.