2018 Ontario Budget: Health Sector Spending, Implications for Physician
The Ontario government recently released its 2018 budget. The following note highlights the key potential implications for Ontario physicians and major health sector investments.
2018 Ontario Budget: Health Sector Spending, Implications for Physician
The Ontario government recently released its 2018 budget. The following note highlights the key potential implications for Ontario physicians and major health sector investments.

The Ontario government recently released its 2018 budget. The following note highlights the key potential implications for Ontario physicians and major health sector investments. A more comprehensive review, prepared by the OMA Economics, Policy and Research Department, is available here.

  1. The budget proposes that the Ontario government will introduce tax measures that parallel the federal government’s proposals on taxing income splitting and passive income for private corporations. While disappointing, it’s common practice for the province to mirror federal changes to ensure consistency in tax rules. OMA analysis of the federal tax changes (available here) assumed that Ontario would follow the federal government with these changes.

  2. Budget releases rarely refer directly to physician compensation. The provincial budget directly mentions physicians only in the context of utilization of physician services as one factor influencing health care spending. No specific reference is made to physician compensation or the current binding arbitration process.

  3. The government announced significant investments in the health sector of about 4.3 per cent per year for the next three years that should affect utilization of physician services (see table below).

  4. The government has embarked on a new era of projected deficits over the next six years, despite promising a series of balanced budgets in the 2017 budget. The government also plans to return to a balanced budget by 2024/25 by implementing a “recovery plan.” This is of concern given that the recent history of return-to-balanced-budget plans involved significant cuts to physician compensation.

Major Health Sector Investments in 2018 Ontario Budget

Increased Funding for Hospitals including funding for beds, funding for more surgical and medical procedures and more MRI hours. Additional $822 million in 2018/19
Expansion of OHIP+ to include all seniors regardless of income and elimination of annual deductible and co-payment for seniors under the ODB program effective August 2019. $575 million per year by 2020/21
Introduction of a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program for individuals and families who do not have coverage from an extended health plan, starting in summer 2019. The program will reimburse up to 80 per cent of eligible drug and dental expenses up to an annual maximum which differs by type of household. $800 million over the first two years of the program.
Providing capital grants towards building and expanding hospital infrastructure. $19 billion over the next 10 years
Recruitment and retention of health care professionals for primary care teams across the province. $330 million over three years
Expanding Access to Mental Health and Addictions Services Additional $2.1 billion over the next four years
Expansion of Home and Community Care Services Additional $650 million over the next three years