Ontario Connecting Children and Youth to Care Close to Home
$330 million annual boost in spending expands pediatric services in communities across the province
July 19, 2023
Office of the Premier
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OTTAWA — The Ontario government is investing an additional $330 million each year in pediatric health services to connect children and youth to more convenient and high-quality care close to home at hospitals, clinics and community-based health care facilities across Ontario. With this new investment, over 100 high-priority initiatives will be quickly implemented to ensure children and youth in every corner of the province can connect to emergency care, surgeries, ambulatory services, diagnostic imaging, and mental health services.
“This new funding will provide our frontline health care partners with the tools they need to immediately provide more children with the care they need close to home,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We’re tackling wait times, adding new beds, and building up our health care workforce to ensure everyone in Ontario, including and especially our children and youth, have access to the care they need, when and where they need it.”
This consistent and stable funding increase will also allow pediatric hospitals to make significant increases to staffing to ensure they have the people and resources needed to prevent backlogs and improve access to care.
“Our record investments are making it easier and faster for Ontarians of all ages to connect to the care they need closer to home,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Increasing our investments for pediatric services will ensure children and youth in Ontario can depend on a strong health care system that is there for them now and in the future.”
Some examples of the over 100 initiatives across the province include:
- hiring more pediatric surgical staff to increase the number of additional day surgeries and increase access to diagnostic imaging for children;
- increasing the number of people that can be seen, triaged and cared for on-site in emergency departments by investing in rapid access clinics that people can access instead of going to emergency departments during respiratory illness season;
- reducing wait times for children and youth to connect to mental health services in hospitals and community settings, including indigenous youth mental health programs and adding eight new youth wellness hubs to the 14 that are already operating in communities across Ontario to help fill the gap in youth addictions services and deliver a range of other services, such as vocational support, education services, housing and recreation and wellness;
- increasing access to both psychosocial supports for kids with cancer and eating disorder programs in hospitals and community settings, and expanding intensive live-in treatment programs for children with complex mental health issues; and
- implementing an immunization catch-up program for children and youth in Eastern Ontario with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Public Health.
This investment includes up to $45 million from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services for children’s rehabilitation services, including occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language services. The additional funding will also help providers hire and retain more staff to reduce wait times to give children and families more timely access to clinical assessments, early intervention and school-based rehabilitation for children with special needs.
“Our government’s significant investment in expanding pediatric care across Ontario demonstrates our dedication to the safety and well-being of children and youth,” said Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “This funding will reduce waitlists, enhance access to critical services, and ensure families receive the specialized care their children require when they need it most.”
Through Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, the Ontario government is providing significant financial support to hospitals, clinics and communities to improve how they deliver pediatric care – ensuring that Ontarians of all ages can access care easier, faster, and closer to home in their communities.
- For the current fiscal year, funding is prorated to $240 million.
- Recently, Ontario has also expanded One Stop Talk, a virtual walk-in mental health counselling service for children, youth and families.
- 22 SmartStart Hubs are already operating across the province. SmartStart Hubs provide improved access to front-line rehabilitation services for children and youth, including speech and language pathology services, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
“Ontario’s hospitals thank the Government of Ontario for the pediatric health care investments announced today, which will help ensure that children and their families receive faster access to emergency department care, surgery, diagnostic imaging as well as mental health services. As hospitals continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for an anticipated fall and winter surge, Ontario’s hospitals are grateful for the Government’s continued commitment to addressing longstanding capacity challenges across the health care system. Hospitals are here to serve, and targeted investments will equip hospitals with the resources needed to plan for new and growing demand.”
– Anthony Dale
President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association
“Ontario’s doctors welcome this significant investment in health care for our children, which will help clear the backlog of surgeries and other pediatric care built up during the pandemic. The past three years have been especially challenging for children who are still developing physically, mentally and socially, so the new funding for mental health supports is particularly important.”
– Dr. Andrew Park
“Ontario’s welcome investment is the first of its kind—a broad strategy and multi-pronged investment in children’s hospitals and in community-based care. We’re ready to do things differently—to look at the whole system of care, not just certain elements of it. Empowered Kids Ontario is a proud partner in this collaborative effort that is a game changer for kids and families.”
– Jennifer Churchill
CEO, Empowered Kids Ontario
“We applaud today’s announcement and the new investment that will impact a generation of children. This unprecedented funding will help families in Ontario access the care they need, when and where they need it. Kids Health Alliance is proud to work with partners across children’s health care – in hospitals and communities across Ontario – to deliver innovative care that improves the lives of kids and families”
– Lauren Ettin
Executive Director, Kids Health Alliance
“Today’s funding announcement from the Government of Ontario is a critical step forward in prioritizing the health and wellbeing of children and families from across the province. It is through strong and essential partnerships that we can better care for our most vulnerable families. At Ronald McDonald Houses across Ontario, we are proud to stand alongside our pediatric hospital partners and be part of the network of support for sick children and their families when it’s needed most.”
– Kate Horton
CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada
“This is an important investment into the pediatric health system. These funded initiatives will allow us to effectively manage surges and maintain a stabilized and integrated system of care.”
– Matthew Anderson
President and CEO of Ontario Health
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