March 4, 2021, Ontario Premier Doug Ford participated in a meeting of the Council of the Federation, during which Canada’s Premiers reiterated calls for the federal government to increase its share of funding for provincial and territorial health care to 35 per cent. The meeting was hosted virtually by Quebec Premier François Legault.
This afternoon, Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibollo, announced $12.8 million to expand and enhance mental health and addictions services for Indigenous peoples, families, and communities.
Ontario also introduced the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act. If passed, the Act would help connect communities to reliable internet sooner by reducing costs for broadband providers to attach broadband wirelines to hydro utility poles.
This morning, the government announced an investment of $1.5 million in Techno-Bloc to establish its first manufacturing facility in Ontario. The investment is part of the Regional Development Program and expected to create 50 new jobs that will support economic recovery from COVID-19 in the Waterloo Region.
Also this morning, Ontario announced an additional $500 million to help municipalities address ongoing COVID-19 operating costs.
Canada’s Premiers Call on Federal Government to Increase CHT
This afternoon, during a meeting of the Council of the Federation, Canada’s Premiers reiterated their call for the federal government to increase its share of funding for provincial and territorial health care to 35 per cent.
Quebec Premier Legault provided opening remarks, during which he raised concerns about the ability of provinces and territories to pay for health services without additional federal support. Currently, provinces and territories pay 78 per cent of health costs, while the federal government contributes 22 per cent.
Other Premiers echoed Premier Legault’s remarks, noting that provinces will have to grapple with the added costs of long-term COVID-19 symptoms and catching up on surgical and procedural backlogs in the wake of the pandemic.
In his remarks, Premier Ford noted that Ontario’s top post-pandemic priorities are to rebuild the economy and restore the health system. He added that mending a health system that is “stretched to its limit” would be easier with additional support from the federal government, and would mean that the province could more quickly address procedural backlogs, demand for mental health services, and the need for increased long-term care capacity.
In response to questions from media, Premier Ford reiterated the importance of Canada becoming self-sufficient by bolstering domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity. He compared vaccine supply challenges to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) early in the pandemic, noting that Ontario and Canada have adapted in order to produce PPE domestically. Premier Ford added that Ontario is collaborating with other provinces to increase Canada’s capacity to manufacture vaccines in the future, such as a possible booster shot to protect against COVID-19.
Additional Support for Municipalities
Earlier today, Ontario announced an additional $500 million to help municipalities address ongoing operating costs associated with COVID-19. The investment is intended to enable the continued delivery of critical services and support capital projects.
Funding announced today will be allocated based on a combination of a base amount and on the proportion of provincial COVID-19 cases in the municipality’s public health unit. This will ensure that funding is prioritized for municipalities hardest hit by the pandemic.
Funding can be used to address the unique COVID-19-related operating pressures of each municipality.
Today’s investment is in addition to the $1.39 billion in operating funding provided to municipalities through the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement.