Strengthening Ontario’s Health Care System with New Investments
The Ontario Government has introduced A Plan to Stay Open legislation that will ensure the province is able to fight future emergencies by building a stronger, more resilient health care system that is better able to respond to crisis.
“Our government is acting and making historic investments in health care,” says Merrilee Fullerton, MPP for Kanata-Carleton and Minister for Children, Community and Social Services. “We can never go back to previous governments’ chronic underfunding of health care and inadequate emergency preparedness that brought our health care system to the brink and caused so much disruption in our daily lives.”
“Health care requires on-going investment. That is why we’re building more hospital beds and investing in new hospital infrastructure to ensure Ontario is never again left with capacity at such vulnerable levels,” says MPP Fullerton.
Fullerton adds, “We’re doing much more to make our health system stronger. We’re building new medical schools and opening record seats to train the medical professionals of tomorrow. We’re investing in expanding our health care workforce, from nurses to PSWs. We’re also supporting the development of the supply chain for the domestic production of our critical supplies like PPEs.”
The Government’s Plan to Stay Open is built on three pillars:
Expanding Ontario’s Health Workforce
- Invest $142 million to launch the new “Learn and Stay” grant. The program will start with $81 million over the next two years to expand the Community Commitment Program for Nurses for up to 1,500 nurse graduates each year to receive full tuition reimbursement in exchange for committing to practice for two years in an underserved community.
- Make it easier and quicker for foreign-credentialled health workers to begin practicing in Ontario by reducing barriers to registering with and being recognized by health regulatory colleges.
- Make the temporary wage enhancement for personal support (PSWs) and direct support workers (DSWs) permanent. Since October 1, 2020, over 158,000 PSWs and DSWs providing publicly funded services in hospitals, long-term care, home and community care and social services have been receiving a wage enhancement of $3/hour or $2/hour.
- Train more doctors through the largest expansion of medical school education in over 10 years. Ontario is adding 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions over the next five years, including at the Ryerson School of Medicine in Brampton, the first new medical school to be created in the province since the Northern Ontario School of Medicine was established in 2005.
- To further support the next generation of health care workers, the government is also investing an additional $41.4 million annually to support the clinical education component in Ontario’s nursing education programs.
Shoring-up Domestic Production of Critical Supplies
- Launch a life sciences strategy that will support early -stage companies, attract new investment, and encourage early adoption of Ontario-made innovations in our hospitals and health system.
- Leverage the province’s extensive manufacturing capability wherever possible to maintain a healthy stockpile of quality PPE and CSE, which could help strengthen PPE and CSE supply chains and ensure the preparedness and the safety and security of Ontarians in non-emergency times and in time of crisis.
- Ensure a safe and stable food supply by requiring regular reports on the province’s security of food supply and contingency planning, including surge capacity for food inspection in an emergency. The changes would also allow for the creation of a temporary location(s) for part or all of the Ontario Food Terminal operations during an emergency.
- Prohibit the offer to sell or the sale of government-provided PPE and CSE that has been provided without charge or payment of a fee, preventing hoarding and protecting consumers from bad actors.
Building More Hospital Beds
- Since the outset of the pandemic, the government has added nearly 1,000 more intensive-care unit hospital beds with the capacity to now handle 2,915 critical care patients. The Plan to Stay Open will do more by implementing a capital plan expansion with more than 50 major projects that would add 3,000 new beds over 10 years and invest to support the continuation of over 3,100 acute and post-acute beds in hospitals and alternate health care facilities, and hundreds of new adult, paediatric and neonatal critical care beds.
See the Ontario Government media release for more details: Ontario Introduces a Plan to Stay Open