Ontario to ‘spare no expense’ for health care during pandemic

Negative pressure room in the emergency department at WRH-Met Campus where patients with potential infectious diseases are held. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

Ontario’s premier is promising to look out for frontline health care workers as the number of people infected by COVID-19 continues to grow across the province.

“Our government will spare no expense to protect the health and safety of our frontline health care workers,” said Premier Doug Ford during his daily news conference on Thursday. “They’re always looking out for us and our government is looking out for them. We’ll do everything within our power to ensure our frontline workers have the necessary resources to take down COVID-19 and keep individuals and families safe.”

The provincial government will be committing $3.3 billion worth of additional resources for health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that, $341 million will be used to increase hospital capacity for assessments and treatment, $75 million will go to personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies, $62 million is being dedicated to health care workers in various sectors, and $80 million is being set aside for ambulance and paramedic services.

Ford said on Thursday that procurement teams are working day and night to get all of the protective equipment and testing materials needed in the province.

“As I told our procurement department, there’s rules when we aren’t at war and there’s rules when we’re at war and we’re at war right now. We have to make sure we follow procedures, but no more waiting around, no more taking days to make a decision. We’re making decisions minute by minute, hour by hour,” said Ford.

Facilities for the most vulnerable in the province will also receive additional financial support, including $243 million for long-term care home emergency capacity and virus containment measures, $70 million for infection control measures in retirement homes, residential facilities and emergency shelters.

Another $100 million more will be set aside for public health and $170 million will go towards community capacity, homecare and Telehealth Ontario.

As well, the province is setting aside $1.2 billion to meet the demand for services in the health and long-term care sector, and $1 billion for a COVID‑19 contingency fund.

The funding is part of the $17 billion aid package announced by the Minister of Finance Rod Phillips Wednesday afternoon.

-With files from Maureen Revait