TORONTO — Doug Ford acknowledged Tuesday that his government could do more to ease pressures on Ontario’s health care system. But in his Speech from the Throne, he offered no new solution to the problem that caused emergency rooms to temporarily close this summer.
Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell read the new Ford government’s Speech from the Throne, which marks the start of a new legislative session following the June election. The Progressive Conservative government only maintains that it is working with the various players in the health care system to find solutions.
Mr. Ford has been Prime Minister since 2018, and in the Speech from the Throne he touts his past achievements in health care, including adding thousands of hospital beds and hiring nurses, investing in home and community care, the introduction of a grant to attract health professionals to rural and remote areas, and plans to provide 30,000 new long-term care beds.
“These historic investments have helped sustain the province’s health care system during the most difficult time in modern history, but there is no doubt that, like health care systems across Canada, it continues to face significant pressures, including exhausted staff and emergency rooms with increasing stress levels,” the government said in the Speech from the Throne.
“More can be done. Your government is actively working with its health system partners to identify urgent and possible solutions and will take whatever action is necessary to alleviate immediate pressures while ensuring the province is prepared to remain open should there be a winter outbreak.” , adds the Ford government.
The salaries of nurses
Emergency rooms in several Ontario hospitals had to close this summer for hours or even days due to a shortage of health care workers, according to observers.
Several speakers urged Premier Ford to repeal the 2019 “Law 124”, which caps public sector wage increases at 1% for three years. They believe that this law undermines efforts to recruit and retain nurses in the public network.
Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, wished action had been taken sooner. “What has been done are baby steps, and we need giant leaps (…) to get us out of this massive shortage of nurses,” she said after the Speech from the Throne.
Cathryn Hoy, president of the Ontario Nurses Association, said Ford had ignored solutions called for by her organization, including repealing ‘Bill 124’ and improving working conditions for nurses. .
“The Speech from the Throne and this government claim the crisis is a short-term problem and say the actions needed to address the health care crisis have not yet been determined,” Hoy said in a statement.
“This crisis is anything but temporary, and the government needs to wake up to that fact and listen to the solutions that we have offered and that exist.”
Mr. Ford only indicates in his Speech from the Throne that while striving to address “short-term stressors”, he will make long-term investments, but “will not be limited by conventional ways of thinking. that stifle innovation and preserve the status quo.
People with Disabilities
The Speech from the Throne also states that the Ford government, as promised in the campaign, will increase disability benefits for people with disabilities by 5% and index future increases to inflation. He also made a new promise, which will be included in the budget: to provide an additional $225 million over two years “in direct grants to parents who help their children catch up” in their learning.
Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy would not say what amounts parents would receive, whether they would be directly linked to tutoring or whether they would be subject to financial means tests. Details will come later, he said.
Both of these measures will be funded from the provident fund, the government said.
Minister Bethlenfalvy reintroduced the budget immediately after the Speech from the Throne. The document is unchanged from the one that was tabled this spring, but which could not be adopted in the House before the election was called.
Opposition parties have also criticized the government for its lack of new proposals in the Speech from the Throne or changes to the budget at the end of April, despite inflation being much higher now than it was in the spring, and a crisis in the health system.
However, the government’s projections have since changed: a deficit of $18.8 billion is now forecast this year, down from the $19.9 billion forecast by the Conservatives in the spring, due to higher tax revenues than intended.
Revenue from personal income tax is expected to increase by $941 million, sales tax by $597 million and corporate income tax by $417 million, the government estimates. However, land transfer tax revenue is expected to decrease by $787 million, due to the slowdown in the housing market.
Minister Bethlenfalvy said it was prudent to use $1.1 billion for deficit reduction rather than program spending, given the global economic uncertainty.
The Speech from the Throne began by evoking a “growing sense of insecurity” in Ontario and around the world, amid COVID-19, high inflation and war in Ukraine, particularly its impacts on supply chains.
“And unprecedented spending throughout the pandemic has created new fiscal challenges here, in Ontario, and across Canada, which will require careful economic management in the months and years to come,” warns the Progressive Conservative government.
“Taken together, these emerging fiscal and economic issues cannot be underestimated or ignored. We have to face it. And there is no easy solution.”
The speech also highlighted rising interest rates in response to high inflation, and the government cautioned that Ontario, like the rest of the country, needed to prepare for the possibility of a short-term economic downturn.
Mr Ford pledges to chart a way forward based on economic growth, “not painful tax increases or spending cuts”.
The Speech from the Throne also extensively touts key elements of Mr. Ford’s agenda, including building highways and other infrastructure, attracting investment in electric vehicle manufacturing and a skilled trades strategy that aims to address a labor shortage.
Mr. Ford also promises to give more powers to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa, in order to accelerate the construction of housing.
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Doug Ford admits his government can do more in hospitals – Journal Le Guide de Cowansville
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