Toronto, ON, May 1, 2014 — Today's budget announcement, which happens to coincide with Doctors' Day in Ontario, is an opportunity to recognize the many contributions of Ontario's doctors and to have a public dialogue on the challenges and opportunities facing the health care system. As trusted leaders in the health care system, Ontario's doctors have a strong track record of devising innovative, patient-centered solutions to improve access, and strengthen and sustain the health care system.
Ontario's doctors are pleased to see that the government shares our focus on end of life care. The OMA, under the leadership of Past President Dr. Scott Wooder, has launched a public campaign to encourage every Ontarian to have a candid conservation about end of life with their loved ones and their doctor.
We are also supportive of the government's ongoing commitment to strengthen capacity in the community sector so that we can provide care closer to home, when it's needed. The government's commitment to increase the number of Health Links from 54 to 90 is welcomed news for patients with complex medical needs. Ontario's doctors have been strong champions of Health Links and we believe that this initiative will improve coordination of care, which will result in improved patient-centered care and greater efficiencies for the health care system.
We also welcome the establishment of a new capital fund to support Family Health Teams to improve access to primary care. Today, more than 10 million Ontarians are enrolled with a family doctor in a Family Health Team or another primary care model.
The government's commitment to moderately increase the tobacco tax rate is good news for all Ontarians. We know that 50 percent of long-term users of tobacco products die prematurely due to their addiction so any tax increase is expected to reduce the prevalence of tobacco consumption, especially in youth, as well as result in health care savings over the long-term.
The commitment to provide an additional $65 million in 2014-15, growing to $83 million annually by 2016-17, to support the "Open Minds, Healthy Minds" strategy will help to improve access to mental health and addiction services, particularly for youth who are transitioning into adulthood.
Dr. Ved Tandan
Ontario Medical Association