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News release
November 05, 2020

Ontario’s doctors welcome budget measures as a step in addressing “pandemic deficit” and say there is more to do

TORONTO, ON., Nov. 5, 2020—Ontario’s doctors working on the front lines of one of the most significant global health crises welcomed the help offered in today’s budget as an important step in addressing the growing “pandemic deficit,” and said much work remains to catch up on months of delayed patient care.

“Ontario’s doctors do not want any patient to suffer as a result of delayed care,” said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association. “That is why we called for today’s provincial budget to address the backlog of surgeries and other medical procedures that make up the growing pandemic deficit.  While there is more to do, the backlog investment is a start.”  

Ontario’s 32,500 doctors are on the front lines of the pandemic, caring for patients around-the-clock while working to contain the virus.  They need to know the premier and his government will provide the resources patients require.

The OMA estimates patients received 12.3 million fewer health-care services between March and September 2020 compared with last year, a decrease of 18 per cent or almost one delayed service for every Ontarian. That includes not just surgeries but also checkups and screenings that catch cancers and other significant illnesses in their early, more treatable, stages and immunizations that protect children now and later in life.

“Ontario’s doctors will continue to be there, but doctors and patients are going to need help in the next budget to cover the cost of the pandemic deficit,” said OMA CEO Allan O’Dette. “The pandemic deficit isn’t going away even after a vaccine is available. Delayed surgeries, other procedures and closed medical offices are going to need urgent help from Premier Ford and his government.”

Ontario’s doctors believe a healthy front-line is key to keeping Ontarians healthy and a healthy economic recovery.

A critical aspect of this recovery will be the expansion of virtual care. The OMA has long advocated for increased access to virtual care, especially for those living in rural areas and northern Ontario. This pandemic has taken the need to the next level.

“Ontario doctors are also pleased that the government has committed to expanding Ontario’s broadband network,” O’Dette said.  “The next logical step is to make virtual care permanent – including care provided by telephone – which will both benefit patients and help reduce the pandemic backlog.”   

New money in the budget for long-term care homes and money to help keep seniors at home will  improve quality of life for older Ontarians, help them stay in their homes longer and provide faster access to care homes when the time comes.