On March 23, Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy released the 2023 Budget: Building a Strong Ontario.
The COA summarized highlights from the provincial budget that aligns with the COA’s 2023 Pre-Budget Submission.
- Providing financial support to more seniors by proposing changes to expand the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) program, starting in July 2024, to see 100,000 additional seniors be eligible for the program and the benefit adjusted annually to inflation.
- Calling on the federal government to defer the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on all large new scale purpose-built rental housing projects to tackle the ongoing housing affordability crisis. Ontario would support this measure, as it would help spur the construction of more rental housing units while helping to create jobs, encourage economic development and support growth.
- Investing in supportive housing with an additional $202 million each year in the Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program to help those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, struggling with mental health and substance use, those escaping intimate partner violence, and support the community organizations delivering supportive housing.
Health Human Resources
- Continuing to support critical frontline health care workers by providing $1.2 million to the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association to help with recruitment efforts by promoting the personal support worker profession in the long‐term care sector. The funding will help raise awareness of the profession through outreach with district school boards, community groups, and in job fairs across the province.
- Helping more Ontario students become doctors by investing an additional $33 million over three years to add 100 undergraduate seats beginning in 2023, as well as 154 postgraduate medical training seats to prioritize Ontario residents trained at home and abroad beginning in 2024 and going forward. Ontario residents will also continue to be prioritized for undergraduate spots at medical schools in the province.
- Starting in fall 2023, expanding the program to allow pharmacists to prescribe over-the-counter medication for more common ailments, including mild to moderate acne, canker sores, diaper dermatitis, yeast infection, pinworms and threadworms, and nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
Home and Community Care
- Continuing the 2022 Budget commitment to invest $1 billion over three years to get more people connected to care in the comfort of their own home and community by accelerating investments to bring funding in 2023-24 up to $569 million, including nearly $300 million to support contract rate increases to stabilize the home and community care workforce. This funding will also expand home care services and improve the quality of care.
- Investing more than $174 million over two years, starting in 2024–25, to continue the Community Paramedicine for Long‐Term Care Program to leverage the skills of paramedics to provide additional care for seniors in the comfort of their own homes.
- Through planned investments that total a historic $6.4 billion since 2019, Ontario is on track to build more than 31,000 new and over 28,000 upgraded beds across the province by 2028.
- Investing $5.5 million in 2023–24 to build new Behavioural Specialized Units in long‐term care homes, including approximately 70 new specialized beds, to expand care for individuals with complex needs. Behavioural Specialized Units provide timely and appropriate support for individuals with responsive behaviours requiring increased levels of care.
Federal Health Funding
- Investing into health care in the 2023 budget significantly exceeds the new federal health funding. Ontario will receive a total of $4.4 billion in new federal health funding over three years: $1.8 billion in 2023–24, $1.1 billion in 2024–25 and $1.5 billion in 2025-26, while Ontario will make incremental health care investments of $15.3 billion over three years: $3.2 billion in 2023–24, $5.9 billion in 2024–25 and $6.2 billion in 2025-26.
- Ensuring the safety and security of seniors across the province, including providing support to those experiencing or at risk of elder abuse by investing close to $1 million over three years to expand the Seniors Safety Line so seniors can access the support they need. The Seniors Safety Line is the only dedicated elder abuse helpline operating province-wide.