Cutting Wait Times, Delivering Better Health Care in Ontario

Universal public health care is a core part of what it means to be Canadian. It is the idea that no matter where you live or what you earn, you will always be able to get the care you need. Unfortunately, our health care system has not been living up to expectations. From overwhelmed emergency rooms to surgery backlogs to healthcare workers under enormous strain – Canadians deserve immediate action to deliver better health care, when and where they need it. That is why the Government of Canada is making transformative investments to improve how provinces and territories deliver health care across the country.

Today, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, alongside the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, announced a new $3.1 billion agreement to improve health care in Ontario. This investment will help increase access to family doctors, reduce wait times, hire more healthcare workers, and ensure faster care for Canadians, including mental health care.

Under this agreement, Ontario will continue to deliver on its Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care and create new primary care teams to help more people connect to family doctors. With more family doctors, as well as nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers, health teams will ensure families can access timely, quality primary care. This will also help reduce backlogs for surgeries and wait times in emergency rooms while improving access to care for patients without a family doctor, especially in rural, remote, and underserved areas.

To fill health care shortages, Ontario will add hundreds of new family physicians and nurse practitioners, as well as thousands of new nurses and personal support workers. Enrollment in health care education programs will be expanded by over 700 spots – including over 70 in Northern Ontario. To keep building the talent for the future, Ontario will support students with tuition fees, help practising professionals gain new skills, and bring more health workers into the field.

The agreement will also make it easier for Canadian and internationally trained doctors and health professionals to practise in Ontario, so they spend less time dealing with red tape and more time helping patients in need. This includes removing barriers to foreign credential recognition, simplifying licensing processes, and increasing program access for highly educated and skilled health professionals. The Province will modernize digital infrastructure – from information reporting, to collection, to sharing. By expanding the availability of electronic health information and increasing the number of health care professionals who can securely access and share this information, health care will be more convenient, connected, and patient-centred.

Mental health is a central pillar of this important investment. Ontario will add five new Youth Wellness Hubs to the 22 that have opened since 2020, making it faster and easier for youth to connect to much needed mental health and substance use services in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities. The Province will also continue to expand its Structured Psychotherapy Program, helping thousands more Ontarians get timely help for depression or anxiety through free cognitive behavioural therapy and other related supports.

The federal and provincial governments will engage and work with Indigenous Peoples to address gaps and systemic inequities in Indigenous health care services and improve access to culturally safe care. Under the agreement, funds will go to Ontario’s Support for Indian Residential Schools Burials Funding program, which provides culturally safe mental health supports to Survivors of residential schools, families, and communities. As we move forward on the shared path of reconciliation, safe and timely health care is a priority for Indigenous communities.

This investment is part of the Government of Canada’s larger work to invest over $200 billion to improve health care, including funding through tailored bilateral agreements with provinces and territories. The agreement with Ontario is the fifth agreement announced, after British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, and Nova Scotia. Through the agreement announced today, the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario will deliver better results for patients, support health care workers, and protect our health care system now and into the future.

Ontario Government