The Hamilton Spectator

Ford ‘confident’ of health-care deal

‘We’re grateful for the offer,’ premier says but raises concerns about timelines of federal offer


Ontario will accept any new money on health care from the federal government, the premier and health minister said Wednesday, but they are concerned about the length of the funding being offered by Ottawa.

Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones are set to meet Thursday in Toronto with federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Intergover­nmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc to discuss the details of proposed new money.

“I’m confident we’ll get the T’s crossed, the I’s dotted,” Ford said.

“We’re grateful for the offer. We’re grateful for sitting down with the prime minister, but we want sustainabi­lity. We need certainty moving forward, not just for a few years, five or 10 years, but decades to come.”

The federal government presented an offer Tuesday to the provinces and territorie­s that would see an additional $17 billion over 10 years added to the Canada Health Transfer.

Ottawa would also provide an immediate one-time $2 billion top-up for this year to help provinces ease the intense pressure on emergency rooms and children’s hospitals.

Another $25 billion would be given for targeted funding for family doctors, mental health, surgical backlogs and health data systems.

The premiers said the offer would increase the federal share of healthcare costs from 22 per cent to 24 per cent next year, far short of the 35 per cent they were seeking.

Still, Ford and Jones appeared prepared to accept the deal.

“There is no doubt that any new health-care spending and investment­s, we will accept,” Jones said after announcing 23 new hospice beds will be added to the 500 beds available across the province.

But both want to discuss what they call the short-term nature of the funding.

Jones said she hopes to hear from Duclos “how we can ensure that these are not short-term, one-anddone programs.”

“Whether you’re looking at new medical schools, new residency positions, training and hiring new nurses — those are all things that take literally decades and will be a commitment of our government for decades.”

The premier has said he would use the new money to hire more doctors and nurses, boost home care and invest in long-term care.

“The federal money will assist in, frankly, a lot of the investment­s and enhancemen­ts that we are making now,” Jones said.

On Tuesday, Ontario’s fiscal watchdog said the province has a $5 billion funding shortfall in healthcare, but a large contingenc­y fund of billions of dollars that could cover that amount.

Ottawa would also provide an immediate one-time $2 billion top-up for this year

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