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Opinion: Fearmongering was all for naught

'And to be clear, no Ontario paramedic will lose their job—just the opposite. We’re actually empowering our great front-line paramedics to improve the already great emergency care they provide in communities each and every day'
2019 Ontario budget
Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli presents the 2019 budget as Premier Doug Ford looks on at the legislature in Toronto on Thursday, April 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

By Vic Fedeli, MPP Nipissing

Well, it’s now a proven fact that all the fear-mongering was all for naught. 

The 2019 Budget is a comprehensive and sustainable plan that balances the books in five years while protecting the critical public services Ontario families rely upon each and every day, such as health care and education.

The education budget increases by $700 million this year.  And we are investing $13 billion over 10 years in capital improvements; $1.4 billion this year alone.  As well we are investing $1 billion to build 30,000 child care spaces in our schools. We have taken great care to build a sustainable education plan where no teacher is being fired, despite what our opponents often claim.

The health care budget increases by $1.3 billion this year, with $384 million more for hospitals and $267 million added to home care.  In addition, we are investing $90 million in a new low-income senior's dental plan.

The centre of the health care system must be Ontario’s patients, who deserve a seamless health care experience regardless of who is treating them or where the treatment occurs. 

The government is making the system easier to navigate and is shifting health care dollars from the bureaucracy to front-line care.  Passage of Bill 74 by the Legislature is a significant step in moving toward an integrated health care delivery model. 

Every part of the government’s plan to end hallway health care and build a modern, sustainable and integrated health care system starts with the patient.  Hallway health care is a significant problem that continues to strain Ontario's hospitals and health care system. Across Ontario, too many patients are left waiting too long for the care they need. The government is taking a comprehensive approach to ending hallway health care, including additional investments in increased hospital operational funding, mental health, and addiction services and building long-term care beds, as well as home care funding and community care funding, both of which will let Ontario's seniors live at home longer.

That's why Ontario's Government for the People is taking a major step forward in its plans to end hallway health care by investing $27 billion over the next 10 years in essential hospital infrastructure projects across the province. 

These investments will build critical frontline care capacity by creating more than 3,000 new hospital beds.  

Last fall, our government committed $4 million to help North Bay Regional Health Centre ease capacity pressures in Nipissing.

Regarding ambulance services, our government is reinvesting back-office administrative efficiencies into improved front-line care, where we put the patients first. We’re upgrading the technology used by ambulance communication services, better connecting ambulance and communication centres, dispatchers, and paramedics.  And we're introducing new models of care to ensure patients are treated at the most appropriate health care facilities, and modernizing the system by better integrating dispatch and service delivery.

And to be clear, no Ontario paramedic will lose their job—just the opposite. We’re actually empowering our great front-line paramedics to improve the already great emergency care they provide in communities each and every day.

As well, the current structure of Ontario’s public health units does not ensure consistent service delivery and could be better coordinated with the broader health care system. That is why we are modernizing how public health units are organized and funded – to allow for a greater focus on patients, broader municipal engagement, and more efficient service delivery.

Our plan will enable greater flexibility for services based on community priorities, and ensure public health agencies focus on providing better, more efficient care. 

By making smart, long-term decisions, reinventing the way government delivers services, and focusing our resources on the individuals and families in greatest need, the province is restoring trust, transparency, and accountability – and balancing the budget in a responsible manner.

Vic Fedeli, MPP Nipissing