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FAO identifies shortfall in health care spending & targets

By Randy Thoms Mar 10, 2023 | 4:10 PM

Ontario Financial Accountability Officer Peter Weltman - File Photo

The Financial Accountability Office is painting a grim picture of Ontario’s health care system.

It doesn’t believe the government’s planned spending will meet the current requirements or future demand.

Financial Accountability Officer Peter Weltman says pegs the shortfall at 21 billion dollars by 2028 without further action by the government.

“Our analysis shows not only is there a funding shortfall, but there will be a capacity shortfall as well,” says Weltman.

The report looked for five priority areas: hospital capacity, long-term care and home care, surgical waitlists and wait times, emergency departments, and the health sector workforce.

With hospital capacity, the FAO notes provincial measures are expected to create 4,500 new hospital beds and free up 2,500 existing ones occupied by alternate level of care (ALC) patients by 2028.

Weltman says the province will likely fall short by 500 beds.

The FAO estimates there will also be a slight decline in home care and long-term care capacity relative to need compared to 2019-20.

It is due to the growth in the number of seniors over the next few years that will increase demand for home care and long-term care services.

The FAO says it hasn’t seen any sustained reduction in the number of patients waiting for surgical procedures.

As of September 2022, there were approximately 250,000 patients on waitlists, 50,000 more than before the pandemic. Forty-three per cent, or 107,000, were considered long-waiters.

The FAO says without additional measures, the province will not achieve its goal to reduce that number to the pre-pandemic level of 38,000.

Weltman says to reach its targets, the province will need more health care professionals.

This includes 86,700 more nurses and personal support workers by 2027-28.

“And despite government measures to increase the supply of health care workers,by 2027, we still project a shortfall of 33,000,” says Weltman.

He says failing to address the shortfall, the province won’t be able to meet its expansion commitments in hospitals, home care and long-term care, leading to further impacts on hospital emergency departments, waitlists and wait times for surgeries, and average hours of direct care provided to long-term care residents.



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