​​​​​​​Hi everyone,

Yesterday, Ontario Minister of Finance Greg Sorbara tabled his fourth budget in the Legislature. As reported by the media, Budget 2007 is focused primarily on children and poverty with commitments to increase the minimum wage, enhance childcare, among other things.

The government is increasing the overall health care budget to $37.9 billion from $36.1 billion last year (representing a 5% increase overall). This amount will rise to $39.8 billion in 2008/09 and $41.5 billion in 2009/10. In other words, approximately $0.46 cents of every dollar of government spending will go towards health care in 2007/08. Many of the health commitments support ongoing initiatives. I'd like to share some health highlights using the five domains of our Purpose Statement - We, Caring, Creative, Accountable and Academic.

We

  • The province is committing an additional $43 million to provide full-time employment opportunities for new nursing grads and another $14 million for more nurses in long-term care homes. This will bring the total number of nurses hired since 2003 to over 8,000 by the end of 2007/08. The commitment to hire 8000 new nurses is a key election promise made by this government in their 2003 platform. Mary Ferguson-Paré, UHN's Chief Nursing Officer and President of the Registered Nurses of Ontario had this to say, "We have a shortage of nurses and this window of opportunity will go a long way to keep our nursing graduates here at home, and provide employers with the incentive to create full-time jobs."


Caring

  • ​$135 million to support the government's wait times strategy for hip and knee, cardiac, cancer, cataract and MRI and CT. The government is introducing a sixth priority: pediatric surgeries with the goal to complete 10,000 surgeries over four years.
  • An additional $143 million to continue with the provincial Emergency Department (ED) Action Plan, which was announced last October. Pressures on our EDs have been a longstanding issue for hospitals so ongoing funding for this strategy is welcome news, and will go towards improving physician coverage and increasing the overall efficiency of EDs. We can expect more detail from the Ministry in the coming months.
  • One-time investment of $13.1 million for six electronic supply chain management projects at 46 hospitals and health care facilities. UHN is one of the hospitals to benefit from this investment, which will be used to reduce the amount of time our front-line staff spend tracking inventory and supplies.
  • $35 million for more homecare services and other supports.
    · Supporting the development of 1750 new long-term care beds and the replacement of 662 long-term beds to discharge patients from hospitals.
  • More funding for the Ontario breast screening program to complete more than 600,000 screens per year by 2010/11.
    · $7 million to expand addiction treatment programs, as well as $1 million for a pilot.
  • $20 million, growing to $40 million, for colorectal screening for individuals 50 and over. This is the first program of its kind in Canada.
  • $1.5 million in 2008-09, growing to $2.5 million by 2010-11, to enhance regional capacity of communities to respond to HIV/AIDS.


Creative

  • ​The government is reaffirming its commitment to health research by committing $1.7 billion over five years to 2009/10, which includes $572 million for the Ontario Research Fund and $279 million for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Ontario's academic hospitals play a leading role in pioneering health breakthroughs, so this fund is critical to support our researchers and to retain and recruit the brightest talent.
  • $18 million for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
  • $15 million to the University of Toronto to support research in structural genomics.
  • $64 million to support a provincial eHealth strategy, which includes ongoing support for electronic health records and expanding systems that provide drug and lab information, as well as diagnostic images.

Accountable

  • Due to the consolidation of hospital financial statements on the province's books, it's no longer possible to identify the actual hospital operating grants from the budget documents. Further, this budget does not provide detailed information on planned multi-year operating expenditures for 2008/09 and 2009/10.
  • Through ReNew Ontario, the province is providing $5 billion to modernize and expand health infrastructure by 2010.
  • Investing more than $200 million for new and upgraded medical and diagnostic equipment.


Academic

  • ​Training more doctors by increasing the number of medical school enrolment spots by 23 percent and 2009/10.


There will be lots of media coverage and analysis today and in the following days. I encourage you to read the full budget on the Ministry of Finance's website http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/english/index.html

Bob

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