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New provincial budget brings more money to Peterborough’s health care and mental health

Posted: May 4, 2017

(April 28, 2017)

By: Taylor Clysdale, Peterborough This Week

The areas in which Peterborough will benefit from the new provincial budget will be foremost in health care, says the city’s member of provincial parliament.
“It’s all about making life more affordable for Ontarians,” says MPP Jeff Leal.
Several new additions to the 2016-2017 provincial budget, which is balanced for the first time since the 2008 recession, include an average three per cent increase to hospital budgets, and free drug plans for youth and children under 24. Peterborough Regional Health Centre will receive a two per cent budgetary increase.
According to 2011 census data, Leal says there are 39,000 people in the Peterborough riding who are under 24 and will be affected by the new drug plan, titled OHIP+.

Leal says for families, the new plan will “take a lot of financial pressure off of them” and they “can use those dollars for other needs.”
The budget says 3.9 million people in Ontario currently benefit from drug coverage under the Ontario Drug Benefit program, and OHIP+ will provide care to youth and children regardless of family income, with no deductible or copay.
He adds the budget increase for Peterborough Regional Health Centre will go to making services quicker to access. That includes increasing the number of surgical procedures to shorten waiting lists.
He called the new budget a “$700 million booster shot” to health care in Ontario.
Additionally, Leal says the budget puts more money into mental health care.
“We’re putting more resources into mental health in the province, which is something that is sorely needed,” he says. “No family in Ontario hasn’t been touched by mental health, and we need to continue to make strategic investments.”

The budget will allow for more frontline staff to get people treatment faster.
Leal also announced new strategies for tackling dementia. This includes $100 million over thee years to support people living with dementia and expand community programs.
Roy Brady, chairperson for Peterborough Health Coalition, says the new budget has to be looked at in a greater context.
“You can’t look at this new budget in isolation, because it’s related to failures in the past,” he says.
He says the health-care system has been underfunded for years, and while a three-per-cent increase will help the province, it doesn’t do enough.
He also says the province’s hospitals have been making cuts to try and balance their own budgets. He adds the government tried to relocate some health care services into the community to relieve wait times, but communities were unable to accommodate those services. The result is that while the province saved money, those services suffered.
The budget does take some positive steps, such as with OHIP+, he notes.
“I like the fact they’re moving forward with pharmacare,” he says.
The next step Brady wants is for the federal government to get involved and roll out universal drug plans for all Canadians, and OHIP+ is the first step toward that.

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