Mar 27, 2024

By Jane Brown

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Ontario’s Finance Minister is defending the governing Ford Progressive Conservatives’ latest budget.

Peter Bethlenfalvy says no one can accuse the Tories of failing to spend on healthcare.

“We’re investing over half of a billion dollars for more primary care for professional teams, we’re investing more in human health resources for nurses, we’re investing more in hospitals, 4-percent on average increase, we’re investing more in mental health and addiction supports and you know we’re investing in home and community care, and at the same time, we’re building hospitals right across the province,” Bethlenfalvy explained after delivering the budget.

Healthcare spending represents $85-billion of the $214-billion record spending budget.

Of the $85-billion, $2-billion is being set aside for homecare and community care.

This is welcome news to Bill VanGorder, chief operating and policy officer of CARP – A New Vision of Aging, as told to Zoomer Radio/Classical FM News.

“Homecare is finally getting the recognition that we think it deserves that the government should’ve given it years ago,” VanGorder explained, “$2-billion for homecare is a surprise but a very pleasant surprise. It certainly is needed and they’re talking about increasing compensation for PSWs (personal support workers), nurses, frontline workers and that’s exactly what’s needed. So CARP members will be very happy about that.”

The Tories are also promising to support a York University affiliated medical school that would focus on training family doctors.

But Opposition NDP Leader Marit Stiles says the healthcare measures in the budget won’t solve the current problems.

“If you’re a parent, for example, waiting 12 hours in an emergency room with your sick child, this isn’t going to help you. It’s not going to help the 2.3-million Ontarians who don’t have a family doctor,” Stiles said.

Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie is weighing in on the budget. She says the cuts the government has made already are taking away from further investing in healthcare.

“Whether it’s the license plates or the freeze in the gas tax, this is money that otherwise would’ve been in the system, the freezing of the gas tax for instance.”

She says that is lost revenue of 3 billion dollars that could’ve been invested in hospitals.

So as premier, would she reverse those cuts?

“Let’s ask people. Would they prefer that money going into their hospitals so they have access to healthcare, doctors and nurses when they need them.”

Overall, revenue falls $9.8 billion short of paying for this budget. Minister Bethlenfalvy says the deficit is projected to fall to $4.6-billion in 2025-2026 before the province posts a modest surplus the following year when there’s a scheduled election.

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