Government of Ontario releases 2012 provincial budget
On March 27, the Government of Ontario introduced the 2012 provincial budget bill Bill 55, Strong Action for Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2012. The budget outlines a plan to increase revenue by $4.4 billion and eliminate the deficit by $17.7 billion in three years through restriction of program spending growth and cost containment.
Although the budget includes a number of health-related measures, mental health and addictions are not mentioned. Health-related measures include:
- No wage increases for physicians, hospital and other executives for two years
- Prevention and promotion interventions such as:
- Stakeholder panel on childhood obesity
- Online personalized cancer risk profile
- Expanded screening for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer
- Faster access to family health care
- Moving family health planning to the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs)
- No growth in hospital expenses and four per cent average annual increase for the community care sector
- Reforms to enable LHINs to seamlessly coordinate patient care across providers
- A new patient-centred funding model phased in over three years to hospitals, long-term care homes and community care access centres (CCACs)
- Funding based on type and volume of services provided
- Measures to address Alternate Levels of Care (ALC) including a seniors’ strategy, care coordinators for seniors, and increased investments in home care, community services and chronic care services
- Changes to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program requiring the highest income seniors to pay a greater portion of drug costs
- Reduction of hospital infrastructure investments, including cancellation of some projects
Additional measures include:
- No increases to social assistance rates and advancement on recommendations from the Social Assistance Review including:
- Exploring integration of the Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works with Employment Ontario
- Transforming service delivery of income benefit programs
- Removal of the Community Start Up and Maintenance program from social assistance
- Some increases for the Ontario Child Benefit program
- Integration of all employment and training related government programs under Employment Ontario
- Continuation of the Second Career initiative
The government has also proposed major reforms to the public service including significant reform of public sector pension, reduction of 1,000 full-time equivalents (FTEs), and working towards a zero per cent wage increase in collective bargaining with public service and broader public service unions.
To read Strong Action for Ontario: 2012 Ontario Budget, visit the Ontario Ministry of Finance website at www.fin.gov.on.ca.
To view the budget bill and details of legislative changes, visit the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website at www.ontla.on.ca.