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I'm sure that you've heard quite a bit about the Ontario provincial budget which was read yesterday in the legislature. While the details of any budget take some time to determine, a quick scan of the speech and documents confirms that the government has safeguarded health during tough economic times. Here are the elements that I thought important for us.
2.1% Increase to Base Budgets for Hospitals: This funding was promised three years ago and, despite the change in our economy, the government will go through with this funding increase. This is good news as we have been counting on this increase to our base budget. Of course, the increase doesn't keep up with inflationary costs – largely in the areas of labour costs and drug costs – but every bit helps and it would have been difficult for us to go back and find an additional 2.1% in next year's budget.
Support for Research and Technology: The government has reaffirmed over $700 million commitment to support research and technology, noting life science and genomics, and an Emerging Technologies Fund. While some of this does not appear to be new money, it is good news that this investment will continue.
e-Health: This was mentioned in the budget as a $2 billion investment over three years with the target of an electronic health record by 2015. This is affirmation that the government regards this as an important investment for the future of the system. We expect that the SIMS Partnership will be part of the team that achieves this goal.
I believe that we are in a good position to keep UHN stable with this news. We will continue to pursue our three accountability goals: a balanced budget, no involuntary layoffs and meeting our commitments to provide high quality, safe care to our patients. Over the next few weeks I will let you know more about how we will achieve these goals.