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Ontario docs call on feds for $10B to clear backlog of health services

Medical association said health care in Ontario has been underfunded for the past 30 years
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Ontario doctors want the federal government to boost its Health Canada contribution to Ontario's health spending, immediately.

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) held an online news conference Monday to say that Health Canada should be providing an additional $10 billion allowing the province to clear the backlog of care created by the COVID-19 pandemic and fix the cracks in the health-care system that widened during the pandemic. 

The OMA said it supports the position of Canadian premiers who want to increase the federal health contribution to 35 per cent, up from the current 22 per cent.

“We’re urging the provincial government to take steps in this week’s budget to reverse 30 years of chronic underfunding by all parties,” said Dr. Adam Kassam, the OMA president.  

“But Ottawa needs to do its share to put Ontario back on course as being a national leader in health care, for the sake of our patients and our economy,” he added.

Ontario has fallen so far behind in health-care spending over the last 30 years that it needs to invest an additional $5 billion a year just to reach the national average, the OMA said in a news release.

Ontario budgeted $74.1 billion for health care in 2021-22. But Ontario is projected to spend less on health care per capita than any other province or territory, according to 2021 data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). This is due, in part, to a decrease in per capita spending in the 1990s, flat spending between 2012 and 2016 and spending below the minimum required to keep pace with demand in other years, said the OMA.

As of Monday, said the OMA, Ontario’s per capita health-care spending is about eight per cent lower than the average of other provinces and territories, according to CIHI. Ontario’s own Financial Accountability Office notes that the province’s base health-sector spending plan in the 2021 budget called for per capita spending to decline by an annual average of 0.5 per cent from 2019-20 to 2029-30.

The OMA said increasing the health transfer grant from the Feds by $4.8 billion would bring Ontario up to the national average. The OMA said an increase of the health grant to 35 per cent would cover this.