September 18, 2020
Today Ontario Premier Doug Ford participated in a news conference with Québec Premier François Legault, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister. The Premiers called on the federal government for to invest more in health care and infrastructure for Canada’s provinces and territories.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford responded to questions from media regarding Ontario’s ongoing response to COVID-19.
Premiers Ford, Legault, Kenney, and Pallister Call on Ottawa to Increase Funding for Provincial Priorities
This afternoon, Premier Ford, joined by Premiers Legault, Kenney, and Pallister, called on the federal government to increase funding to the provinces and territories, in order to strengthen frontline health care and move shovel-ready infrastructure projects forward.
Increased Health Care Funding
Ontario joined provincial and territorial partners in calling for a significant increase to the federal Canada Health Transfer (CHT) to cover 35 per cent of provincial-territorial health costs (up from 22 per cent). Increases to the CHT will also help provinces and territories address urgent health system challenges in anticipation of a second wave of COVID-19.
Premier Ford reiterated that health care funding is the number one priority for his government, as demand is increasing year-over-year on Ontario’s health care system, exacerbated by the pandemic which has caused surgery backlogs and exposed cracks in the province’s long-term care system.
Reduced Delays for Infrastructure Projects
Premiers are also calling on the federal government to reduce delays in federal approvals for infrastructure projects, and to invest an additional $10 billion per year over 10 years for shovel-ready projects.
Ontario is seeking at least 40 per cent of total costs for the $28.5 billion subway plan for the Greater Toronto Area, along with additional funding for broadband to expand and improve service in rural, remote and Northern communities. Federal support for these projects will accelerate economic recovery in Ontario and improve quality of life in affected communities.
Questions from Media – Ongoing Response to COVID-19
When asked whether the implementation of a federal universal pharmacare program would help to address some of the provincial health care costs, Premier Ford emphasized that he believes health care should remain a matter of provincial jurisdiction. He reiterated his call to the federal government for increased financial support for provincial health care systems, adding that each province has different needs and can make an independent decision on whether to implement a pharmacare program provincially.
In response to questions about what the province is doing to address long lines at COVID-19 assessment centres in hotspots, Premier Ford said that three mobile testing units have been moved to Ottawa, and hospitals have increased their hours for testing. In addition, pharmacies will begin offering testing for asymptomatic individuals, hopefully by this point next week.
Premier Ford added that Ontario is working to increase its testing capacity to 50,000 tests per day.
Reduced Gathering Limits
Premier Ford also confirmed that Ontario plans to reduce the permitted size of social gatherings in other regions experiencing an uptick in cases of COVID-19, following requests from local mayors and medical officers of health. Yesterday, the province announced a reduction in the permitted size of social gatherings in Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel.