Ontario’s ‘A plan to Stay Open’, with a stronger, resilient, crisis-responsive health care system

Reoresentative image of Resilient Healthcare system. Credit: Unsplash/NCI

Toronto/CMEDIA:  ‘A Plan to Stay Open’ is being unveiled by the Ontario government which includes legislation that, if passed, will expand prevalent policies and measures to ensure the province stays open by building a stronger, more resilient health care system that is better crisis-responsive.

The Pandemic and Emergency Preparedness Act, 2022, which is included in A Plan to Stay Open, if passed, would enable the recruitment and retention of more doctors, nurses, and personal support workers, which would further expand domestic production of critical supplies like masks and vaccines so that hospitals have the capacity to deliver high-quality care to treat more patients.

“While the pandemic is not over, we are now in a place where we can use the lessons learned…in the face of any future challenge…making investments to keep Ontario open, support growing demands, and address longstanding challenges in patient care to ensure Ontarians continue to have access to safe, high-quality health care now and in the future,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health in today’s news release.

Ontario plans to build on the 8,600 health care workers added to the system since March 2020 through wage enhancements and financial incentives by investing $142 million to launch the new “Learn and Stay” grant.

Other options that Ontario is considering are implementing are making the temporary wage enhancement for personal support (PSWs) and direct support workers (DSWs) permanent, training more doctors, shoring-up domestic production of critical supplies, building more hospital beds, establishing clear accountability and governance frameworks for emergencies, launching a life sciences strategy, leveraging the province’s extensive manufacturing capability, ensuring a safe and stable food supply, and prohibiting the sale of government-provided PPE and CSE.

“We can never go back to previous governments’ chronic underfunding of health care…Our hardworking families, dedicated health care workers, and job-creating businesses deserve a plan that will keep Ontario open, safe and prepared,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, President of the Treasury Board in the news release.

Ontario is also planning to add 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions over the next five years, including at the Ryerson School of Medicine in Brampton, the first new medical school to be created in the province since the Northern Ontario School of Medicine was established in 2005.

“Now more than ever, we must train the health care workforce of tomorrow…Creating more opportunities for health care professionals…means that all Ontarians will have access to the quality of care they expect and deserve, regardless of location,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities in the news release

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