Ontario Liberals promise $822M in new funding to boost hospital care

The Ontario Liberals pledged an additional $822 million investment for the province's struggling hospitals in its upcoming pre-election budget, Premier Kathleen Wynne said on Thursday.

The province's OHIP+ program will also extended to people aged 65 and over

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced $822 million in new funding for hospitals should the Liberals form a government after the June election. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

The Ontario Liberals pledged an additional $822 million investment for the province's struggling hospitals in its upcoming pre-election budget, Premier Kathleen Wynne said on Thursday. 

The extra money, which the Liberals say will represent a 4.6 per cent increase in the 2017 budget, is intended to reduce wait times, address ongoing capacity issues, provider better care and prepare facilities for an influx of aging patients.

There is also a widely recognized overcrowding crisis in hospitals across the province. 

"Hospitals are seeing older patients with more complex issues than ever," said Wynne, adding that she wants to implement a "coordinated long-term strategy to provide different levels of care."

"It's not a time to pull back. It's not a time to cut services that people rely on."

Wynne, flanked by her minister of health and long-term care and minister of finance, made the announcement at North York General Hospital. It was her third 'campaign-style' event in as many days.

According to background materials provided to reporters, North York General will receive $10.8 million in additional funding for 2018 and 2019. The money will allow for more than 550 additional MRI hours for high-risk patients and also help ease burdens within the emergency department.

Wynne's announcement is just the latest in a serious of health-care related funding commitments from the Liberals in recent months, including a boost in the number of long-term care beds and expansion of mental health and addictions programs. 

She also took the opportunity to reiterate her pledge to expand OHIP+ to include people 65 and over. 

Health care issues are already emerging as key points of contention as the province heads to the polls. At a "campaign-style" event in Toronto last weekend, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath committed to a universal health care plan that would include coverage for prescription drugs and dental care.