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Ontario Will Fall $5 Billion Short of Funding Health System By 2024, Financial Accountability Office Says

Unions say Doug Ford is deliberately trying to ‘starve’ the health system in order to justify plans to privatize health care

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A new report from Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office has found Doug Ford’s current spending plans will not keep pace with the province’s healthcare costs – something that will soon result in a multi-billion dollar shortfall.

According to the FAO’s Winter 2023 Economic and Budget Outlook report, Ontario’s healthcare system is facing a $1.56 billion funding shortfall this year. That, the report notes, means “the province has not allocated sufficient funds to these sectors to support existing programs and announced commitments over the three-year period.”

As the report notes, between 2022-2023 and 2023-2024, total provincial health spending is expected to rise from $78.6 billion to $79.4 billion – roughly $800 million or a 1.01% increase.

That’s both below the rate of inflation and the $1.67 billion increase Ontario is expected to receive this year from the Canada Health Transfer.

Education in Ontario is also expected to see a $325 million shortfall.

These shortfalls will either be resolved by funding increases or budget cuts.

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For now, the FAO report notes the Ford government has instead opted to increase its “contingency funds.”

CUPE Ontario, a union representing over 60,000 health workers in Ontario, says Ford’s government appears to be withholding money from healthcare.

“It is clear from the FAO report that there is a lot of extra money that is already budgeted – but not assigned to any specific sector,” a CUPE Ontario spokesperson told PressProgress.

Over the next three years, the report notes, that healthcare funding shortfall is likely to rise to $5 billion, while the education funding shortfall is expected to rise to $1 billion.

In November 2022, the FAO noted Ontario’s health spending was lower than expected – amid changes to spending on hospital operation and clinical research.

An earlier report, meanwhile, noted that earlier spending plans would still leave Ontario’s health system critically understaffed until 2026.

Bernadette Robinson, Interim President of the Ontario Nurses Association, says the FAO report suggests Ford is deliberately starving the healthcare system of funds in order to create a pretext to privatize healthcare system.

“The latest FAO report shows exactly what nurses and health-care professionals believe has been long planned by the Ford government,” Robinson told PressProgress. “That it would starve health care of desperately needed funding for staffing, create a crisis and use it as an excuse to privatize parts of the health care system.”

 

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Mitchell Thompson
Reporter
Mitchell Thompson is PressProgress’ Ontario reporter. His reporting has a special focus on workers and communities, and public services and privatization, and public accountability.

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