Niagara’s healthcare exhibits concerns towards Ontario’s 2023 budget

Photo by: Martha Dominguez

Current investments towards Niagara’s healthcare are being criticized, with critics claiming that the provincial government’s 2023 budget is overall underwhelming.

Ontario’s 2023 budget, which was tabled on Thursday, March 16, has been issued a total of $204.7 billion — the largest budget in Ontario’s history — with a forecasted provincial surplus of $200 million by 2024-2025.

The budget addresses a wide variety of issues, such as ambulance offload delays, healthcare investments and education investments. The budget also consists of a $51 million investment to fund an offload nurse program — addressing challenges experienced by Niagara paramedics — and investments in homelessness prevention and Indigenous supportive housing programs.

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff noted the various budget highlights for Niagara, including support in the redevelopment of West Lincoln Memorial Hospital and the South Niagara Hospital, the twinning of the Garden City Skyway and support in wine taxes for local grape growers and winemakers.

In a media release, Oosterhoff declared that the budget “outlines a responsible and targeted approach that supports job creators and working families today, while laying a firm foundation for the future.”

Despite the large scope of issues the budget is working to address, many in Niagara remain concerned that the funding will not be enough.

MPP Jeff Burch, NDP critic for municipal affairs, is concerned about the budget’s allocation of $81 billion to the healthcare sector and $425 million over three years for mental health and addiction services, claiming that the funding “is really not enough to address the problem.”

According to Burch, the investment in mental health does not increase the base funding for mental health agencies, while the health care funding does little to help the immediate future. The budget also does not address rising food costs, home affordability and inflation.

Burch’s concerns stem from the fact that the provincial budget is a political document, meaning it does little to address the problems that people are currently facing. He argues that the budget should work to aid Niagara families who deserve a “right now” approach from the government.

“They continue to deny there’s a crisis in homelessness, mental health and addiction, and with the shocking increase in food bank use in Niagara and across the province, for them not to do anything to address the issue… is going to push us further and further into crisis,” said Burch in an article by the St. Catharines Standard.

In light of the lack of support Niagara’s healthcare currently needs, the Niagara Health Foundation is working to ameliorate healthcare quality by calling on donors to aid them in acquiring funds.

The foundation is aiming to raise funds to support high-quality patient care, education, and research at Niagara Health.

For more information on how to support Niagara’s healthcare services, visit this article by insauga.

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