Ontario budget continues hard line on healthcare in bid to tackle deficit
From the GlobeandMail.com
Ontario has been putting the squeeze on health care for the past three years, but this year the Liberals are moving from a squeeze to a chokehold. They are projecting overall spending growth of just 1.2 per cent on hospitals, doctors and other services – an increase that is less than half the size of last year’s and well short of inflation and population growth.
Restraint in health spending is now entrenched in Ontario’s fiscal plans, part of a $131.9-billion budget that aims to increase spending in a few key areas, particularly public transit construction, while holding the line nearly everywhere else, all in a bid to erase the $8.5-billion deficit in two years.
Education and the justice ministry will see their funding constrained, which critics warn could lead to “backdoor cuts,” particularly at schools. In the case of health care, the plan to barely increase spending would give Ontario one of the slowest health-care growth rates in the country. The Liberals are extending for a fourth straight year a freeze on hospitals’ base operating budgets, and they have taken a hard line against the province’s doctors.
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