Today, Finance Minister Charles Sousa released the 2017 Ontario Budget: A Stronger, Healthier Ontario, which includes significant investments in health care and education. Ontario's first balanced budget since the global recession -- thanks to a strong economy and responsible fiscal management -- introduces free prescription drug coverage for everyone aged 24 and under, makes important investments to reduce wait times and improve access to care, helps students and makes life more affordable for Ontario families.
As a leader in economic growth, the Province is set to balance the budget this year and maintain a balanced budget for the next two years. A balanced budget means more funding for the programs and services people rely on most.
Strengthening Ontario's Health Care
The balanced 2017 Budget launches OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare, a new drug benefit program that fully covers the cost of prescription medications for everyone aged 24 and under, regardless of family income. This program -- the first of its kind in Canada -- will ensure that young adults have access to universal drug coverage and parents never have to choose between paying for their children's prescription drugs and providing other essentials.
Ontario is increasing health care investments by $11.5 billion over the next three years. The 2017 balanced Budget plan includes a new $7-billion booster shot to health care, building on the commitment made in the 2016 Budget. This investment will improve access to care, expand mental health and addiction services, and enhance the experience and recovery of patients. It includes $1.3 billion to further reduce wait times.
With the balanced 2017 Budget, Ontario is committing to several new major hospital projects across the province, adding to the 34 underway. An additional $9-billion capital investment over 10 years will provide faster access to care and help to meet the needs of the growing aging population.
The Province is expanding home and community care programs, including home nursing, personal support and physiotherapy services, with an additional investment of $250 million this year. Family and friends caring for loved ones will be better supported through access to respite care, education and training, and a new Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit.
Ontario's new Dementia Strategy will improve and better coordinate services for those living with dementia and their caregivers by providing more than $100 million over three years.This will include funding to expand provincewide access to community programs and other investments to enhance access to care, information and support when a diagnosis is made.