Ontario Budget 2023: Summary and Highlights
Yesterday, the province of Ontario revealed the 2023 budget with record spending of $204.7 billion. The post-pandemic budget is allocating $81 billion to healthcare, which is the largest expense in the budget.
SCIO will continue to address systemic barriers for the needs of our community and work with the Ontario government to enhance the lives of people with disabilities and ensure that everyone has the potential to succeed and live a fulfilling life.
Health and hospital care continue to be a priority in Ontario, with the government increasing health infrastructure spending to $8 billion over the next ten years. The remainder of the health care budget will focus on Integrated Community Health Service Centres, health education and training and developing innovation pathways for new medical technologies with Supply Ontario.
Apart from an increase in health spending, Minister Bethlenfalvy is emphasizing similar priorities to the 2022 budget, with a focus on developing infrastructure, strengthening the health care system and economic development.
SCIO has reviewed the newly released budget.
Below are some key highlights that are of impact to our community and the 2.9 million Ontarians with disabilities:
- $3.349 billion to be spent on hospital infrastructure in 2023-2024. The remaining $48.119 billion is set to be spend over the next 10 years, and includes over $32 billion in hospital capital grants to support more than 50 hospital projects adding 3000 new beds over 10 years.
- $581 million for other health infrastructure spending in 2023-2024. A total of $8.482 billion is to be spent over the next ten years and includes $6.4 billion in spending on building 30,000 new long-term care beds and upgrading 28,000 beds by 2028.
- Ontario is committing to further expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists to include new ailments after a successful launch in January 2023.
Surgical Backlog and Integrated Community Health Service Centres
- An additional $72 million is being spend on the expansion of Integrated Community Health Service Centres, building on the $18 million announced earlier this year to expand the number of cataract surgeries and other minimally invasive procedures such as MRIs and CT scans.
Home and Community Care and Seniors Care
- $569 million toward accelerated funding, including $300 million to support contract rate increases to stabilize the home and community care workforce
- Proposed changes to expand the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) program, starting in July 2024. This is set to see about 100,000 more seniors eligible for the program.
- 23 additional palliative care beds to the 500 available.
- $120 million in Seniors Care at Home Tax Credits.
- $5 million annually to support 6,500 people with dementia to live in the community.
- Over $174 million over two years toward the Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care Program.
- $5.5 million throughout 2023-24 toward building new Behavioral Specialized Units in long-term care homes with 70 new beds.
- $1.2 million to the Ontario Personal Support Workers Associated to help with recruitment by promoting the PSW profession within
- $1.2 million to the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association to help with recruitment efforts by promoting the personal support worker profession in the long‐term care sector.
Mental Health and Addictions
- An additional $425 million over three years to support mental health and addictions services as part of the Roadmap to Wellness commitment of $3.8 billion over 10 years. This includes a 5% increase in base funding for community-based mental health and addiction service providers.
- $60 million over two years to expand existing primary care teams and create up to 18 new primary care teams in communities with the greatest need.
- An additional $51 million over three years for the Dedicated Offload Nurses Program.
MedTech and Supply Ontario
- Commitment to develop a multi-year Claims Modernization plan to improve management of claims related to Ontario’s Health Plans. This could have an impact on a broad range of government programs, including drug programs, the Ontario Disability Support Program and the Assistive Devices Program among other health plans. Many of these programs have been criticized by the Auditor General for outdated and inefficient practices.
- The government has committed to engage with the private sector to develop more efficient processes. The government also announced it is exploring an Innovation Pathway in collaboration with Supply Ontario to fund, review and adopt innovations in the health system, reducing barriers to early adoption.
- $202 million per year beginning in 2023-24 for the Homelessness Prevention Program to address homelessness in Ontario.
Skills Development for People with Disabilities:
- The government is committing to helping remove barriers between employers and people with disabilities looking to enter the workforce. $3.5 million will be invested over three years to support the Abilities Centre in Whitby, a community hub that delivers inclusive programming ro promote health, community relationships and skills development for people with disabilities. The additional investment will allow the Abilities Centre to provide employment supports for people with disabilities.
- The government is working to make it easier to take transit by introducing debit tapping payment capability on all transit systems in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
- While numerous transit expansions are underway, it is unclear how rapidly accessibility will follow.
SCIO was hopeful for more commitment from the government toward our community and the 2.9 million Ontarians living with disabilities. While the budget seems promising in enhancing health and hospital care, there remain numerous issues faced by the disability community that have yet to be resolved or addressed.
No changes have been announced for the Assistive Devices Program (ADP), a program that many Ontarians rely on to gain access to life saving equipment and medical supplies, including wheelchairs and necessary supplies for bowel and bladder care. Under its current model, the program does not provide coverage for supplies such as pressure relief mattresses that prevent hospitalization and heath complications, intermittent catheters and many other devices that can enhance quality of life for people with disabilities.
Moreover, accessible and affordable housing continue to be an enormous barrier for people with disabilities in Ontario; while there is mention of expanding supportive housing, it is unclear how much focus there will be on accessible housing for people with disabilities.
SCIO is eager to work with the government to address the systematic barriers impacting people with disabilities in Ontario.