Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator (www.mackaycartoons.net) – Thursday March 29, 2018
Ontario Liberals bet big on seniors’ care, drug and dental coverage in 2018 pre-election budget
Ontario’s Liberals will plunge back into the red for at least the next six years to fund an array of big-ticket commitments outlined in the government’s pre-election budget on Wednesday.
The Liberals already unveiled a number of priority items in a series of commitments in the run-up to budget day, including major investments in health care, pharmacare and $2.2-billion over three years for free licensed daycare for preschool-aged children.
The primary themes of the 308-page budget were telegraphed in a Throne Speech last week that included the word “care,” or some variation of it, upward of 50 times. It was clear that the budget would include substantial spending after Finance Minister Charles Sousa admitted the province would return to deficit to pay for it all, after running a $600 million surplus this year.
Despite Premier Kathleen Wynne’s recent flurry of announcements, there were a number of surprises revealed on Wednesday, many of them geared toward the elderly and affordability.
The budget includes billions in funding for seniors, including a $750 yearly benefit for those 75 and over who still live at home. The “Healthy Home Program” will cost $1 billion over three years. Another $650 million will go toward boosting the number of visits by caregivers to client’s homes.
For seniors in long-term care facilities, the Liberals plan to spend $300 million over three years to hire a registered nurse in every home in Ontario and provide an average of four hours of personal daily care for each resident by 2022.
The Liberals also plan to introduce a program to help cover costs of pharmaceutical drugs and dental care for Ontarians without workplace benefits, regardless of income or pre-existing OHIP+ coverage. (Source: CBC News)