QUEEN’S PARK – Bill Mauro, the MPP for Thunder Bay Atikokan states, “Today at Queen’s Park, the provincial NDP and provincial PCs voted against the 2011 Ontario Budget, which includes significant new investments in health care, education and the economy that will benefit residents of Thunder Bay”.
“Our government’s 2011 Budget provides new funding for job creation and builds on the gains we’ve made in health care and education, while also making public services more affordable and effective for Thunder Bay families”, said Mauro. “It’s unfortunate that the NDP do not value improvements to the Ontario breast cancer screening program, enhancements to children’s mental health programs, the further expansion of post-secondary education spaces and an additional $10 million annually for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.”
BREAST CANCER SCREENING: The province is investing an additional $15 million over three years to improve breast cancer screening in Ontario. The new funding is expected to screen an additional 90,000 women, including women between the ages of 30 and 49, which until now, have been excluded from Ontario’s organized screening program.
This expansion makes Ontario the first province in Canada to increase access to an organized breast screening program for high risk women beginning at age thirty.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH: In order to better integrate the current system of supports for children and youth with mental health challenges, the province is investing in a comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. By 2013, funding to support the strategy will grow to $93 million per year.
PHARMACY SERVICES: The 2011 Provincial budget also includes expanded pharmacy services. Effective May 2011, more pharmacy services and support will be available to people covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, including seniors, building on the successful MedsCheck program. Specifically, there will be support for prescription follow-up consultations, medication assessment for patients with chronic diseases and training on how to operate home diagnostic devices, such as glucose monitors and blood pressure monitor kits.
HEALTH CARE: Since 2003, the province has increased health care funding by 57%, from $29 billion to $47.6 billion. The provincial government’s strategic health care investments include $1.5 billion to decrease wait times for important medical procedures, which according to a recent Wait Times Report by the Fraser Institute, has resulted in Ontario having the shortest wait times in Canada for key medical procedures.
Additionally, the province has invested over $770 million for nursing initiatives that have led to more than 11,600 more nursing positions as well as significant funding for doctors that, by 2013, will result in twice as many physicians graduating from medical school in Ontario as compared to 2003.
EDUCATION: The province’s 2011 Budget continues to make education, ranging from full-day kindergarten to postsecondary, a top-priority. The province is investing an additional $500 million in full-day kindergarten in 2011-2012. Operating grants for post-secondary institutions have risen by 73% since 2003, and Ontario is investing more than $64 million in 2011, growing to $309 million in 2013 in additional support to creating 260,000 additional spaces by 2015.
SKILLS TRAINING: There is new funding in the Provincial Budget for literacy and basic skills programs and for the Summer Jobs Strategy. The province will provide $44 million over three years for literacy and basic skills programs and $22.5 million in 2011 for the Summer Jobs Strategy, which will help more than 100,000 student access jobs and services this summer.
SUPPORT FOR THE NORTH: Finally, the province continues to increase the NOHFC budget by a further $10 million per year from $60 million in 2007 to 100 million in 2011 to support vital community infrastructure and economic development projects that create jobs and enhance the quality of life for Northerners. The 2011 Provincial Budget delivers another $10 million to the NOHFC in order to continue strengthening the economy in Northern Ontario by delivering funding for important projects, such as the West End Recreation Centre.