Ontario Provides $3.3 Billion More to Increase Health Care Capacity

Ontario Provides $3.3 Billion More to Increase Health Care Capacity

Ontario Provides $3.3 Billion More to Increase Health Care Capacity

Ontario is stepping up to the plate with a $17 billion response to ensure healthcare systems, communities and the economy are positioned to weather the Covid-19 pandemic.

The one-year economic plan includes $7-billion for the province's health-care system and in job supports, as well as $10-billion in tax deferrals, plus $2.5-billion in a reserve fund in case the crisis worsens.

New spending includes a $1-billion pandemic contingency fund, almost $1 billion more for hospitals, and $75 million for more personal protective equipment for front-line workers.

Increasing public health funding by $160 million to support COVID-19 monitoring and testing, including investments in virtual care and Telehealth Ontario.

The plan includes both new spending and tax deferrals and will be a major hit to Ontario's bottom line, pushing the current $9-billion deficit to $20.5 billion next year.

The total number of COVID-19 patients in Ontario has risen to 858, as health officials announced 170 more positive cases on Thursday and confirmed there are now 15 deaths linked to the virus in the province.

Approximately $5.6 billion has been earmarked to offset electricity costs, which comes as the province is also tweaking time-of-use power costs for consumers, allowing them to be charged at the lowest level.

The second part of the aid package will provide $3.7 billion to help people and jobs.

The province will temporarily increase the Employer Health Tax exemption for 57,000 employers at a cost of $355 million.

A group representing Ontario's municipalities is asking the province to commit enough cash to keep cities from going into debt amid concerns that COVID-19 will throw them into a fiscal hole so deep they can't climb out.

People with student loans will get a six-month break on making Ontario Student Assistance Program loan repayments, and not accrue extra interest.

Providing additional supports of $26 million to Indigenous Peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, and costs for health-care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations.

Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath was quick to criticize what she said the budget didn't contain - help for people.

The document contains no multiyear outlook, something Mr. Phillips says will be included in a budget now scheduled for November 15.

Investing $935 million more in hospitals, including $594 million to continue working on expanding capacity and $341 million to prepare for COVID-19 with an additional 1,000 acute care and 500 critical care beds and to fund assessment centres.

London-Middlesex reported four new cases, Grey-Bruce reported one and Oxford County reported two new infections.

Ontario is projecting zero per cent real GDP growth in 2020, a net-debt-to-GDP ratio of 41.7 per cent in 2020-21 - up from 39.9 per cent - and a ballooning net debt from $355 billion to almost $380 billion.

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