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Ontario government to invest $1 billion in hospitals

TORONTO – The Ontario government will cover an unprecedented 90 percent of the eligible construction costs for hospital projects, Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman (pictured) announced earlier in June. The new cost sharing approach will result in more than $1 billion in additional support from the province.

“We’re on the side of Ontario families who want and deserve the very best health, including quality hospital care,” Smitherman said. “We are increasing our support to hospitals for capital costs, so they can move ahead with their projects. In this way, hospitals can meet the future health needs of their communities.”

This new policy simplifies the ministry’s share of construction costs. In the past, most capital cost share rates varied from 50 percent to 80 percent, depending on the project. Under this new policy, hospitals will be responsible for only 10 percent of the construction costs, as well as the costs associated with the purchase of new and replacement equipment.

The government will also cover 100 percent of eligible construction costs for longer-term mental health programs. In addition, the government will fund 100 percent of the eligible costs related to the planning and design of hospital projects and 100 percent of the costs for eligible new major radiation therapy equipment.

“This is great news for Ontario’s hospitals,” said Hilary Short, President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA). “Investments in renewing Ontario’s hospitals are really investments in better patient care. Today’s announcement will make it easier for hospitals and their communities to raise the funds necessary to begin and complete much-needed hospital renewal projects.”

Other initiatives include:

Reducing wait times for five key healthcare services (hip and knee joint replacement, cataract surgeries, MRI exams, cancer surgeries and cardiac procedures) with a recent investment of $222.5 million;

Increasing operating grant funding to hospitals to $12.9 billion in 2006/07, $13.4 billion in 2007/08, and $14 billion in 2008/09;

Issuing Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for 11 new hospital projects in 2006/07 worth $2 billion.

The latest hospital funding initiative is part of the Ontario government’s plan for innovation in public healthcare, building a system that delivers on three priorities – keeping Ontarians healthy, reducing wait times and providing better access to doctors and nurses, according to a ministry of health news release.