Ontario Budget Spending Heavy on Health Care

The Ontario government has tabled a budget projecting surpluses starting in 2024, but begins the fiscal year in April with a $1.3-billion deficit.

A small surplus of $200-million is expected in 2024-25 with a forecast of $4.4-billion the following fiscal year.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy presented the budget on Thursday.

Some highlights:

  • Health-care staffing shortages will be lessened with a $200 million investment in supports to grow the workforce. Up to 6,000 health-care students will benefit from new training opportunities and up to 3,150 internationally educated nurses will be able to become accredited in Ontario.
  • An investment of $80-million over three years will expand nursing education in universities and colleges, adding 8,000 additional nurses by 2028.
  • An additional $425-million will be spent on mental health services over three years, allowing community-based mental health and addiction services to offer more supports for youth, such as those suffering from eating disorders.
  • An additional $202 million will go towards homeless prevention and supportive housing programs.
  • Prescribing power of pharmacists will be expanded to include the prescription of medications for treatment of acne, canker sores, yeast infections and nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
  • The Guaranteed Annual Income System, which helps low-income seniors, will be expanded and the benefit will be adjusted annually to increase with inflation.
  • $22-billion is being freed up to build more schools and child care spaces.
  • An additional $25.1 million will be spent this year to support searches at residential school burial sites across Ontario.
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