‘A little bit’ of work left to do on health deal with feds, Ford says after meeting
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he had a productive meeting with two federal ministers on Ottawa’s health-care funding offer, but there is still “a little bit” of work to do.
Ford and Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones met for about an hour at the provincial legislature with Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc and federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
On the way in to the meeting, Ford said he was looking for more money on home care and long-term care and longer financial commitments from the federal government.
Afterward, speaking to reporters, Ford said the meeting was “very positive” and praised his federal counterparts, but that he also needs to consult with the other premiers.
“We all have the same objective: to make sure we deliver better health care right across this country,” said Ford.
The federal government presented an offer Tuesday to the provinces and territories that includes $17 billion over 10 years added to the Canada Health Transfer.
Ottawa would also provide an immediate one-time $2 billion top-up to help ease pressures on emergency rooms and children’s hospitals, plus another $25 billion this year for family doctors, mental health, surgical backlogs and health data systems.
To access the funds, the federal government says provinces must agree to uphold legislation that ensures access to health care is based on need and not an ability to pay; increase data collection and transparency; and chip some of their own funds to “shared priorities,” which include mental health, home care, community care and long-term care.
On Tuesday, Ontario’s fiscal watchdog said the province has a $5-billion funding shortfall in health-care, but a large contingency fund of billions of dollars that could cover that amount if they chose to do so.
Physician says ‘immediate solutions’ are first priority
Dr. Rose Zacharias, a family physician and the president of the Ontario Medical Association, says on the patient side, improving access to care and addressing wait times would make a difference for current patients.
On the physician side, things like improving and connecting the digital technology doctors use each day to manage and share patient files, and updating legislation to help internationally-educated physicians start training faster could help the strained sector. Over the long-term, increasing residency school spots could also help bring in more doctors in later years.
“If we could get every doctor in Ontario doing just one hour less of paperwork today, they could see two more patients per day. It would actually translate into a million more patient visits in one month,” said Zacharias on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.
Negotiations over a new health-care deal for the provinces have dragged on for two years. The premiers had insisted no strings be attached to any new money — but Ford relented on that stance last month, saying the province would commit to sharing health data and outcomes for a national database, something the federal government wanted.
Former Health Minister of Ontario Deb Matthews told CBC Toronto that she welcomes strings attached to the funding — particularly the point on data collection and sharing.
Moving forward, she says focusing on team care beyond the physician is key, with a special emphasis on senior care.
“I’m talking about a whole continual care that can be provided to to our seniors as as they age to to permit them to stay in their own homes as long as they possibly can,” said Matthews.
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