Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Graydon Smith says the provincial government is supporting the healthcare sector with its 2023 budget, noting 40 percent of the $204 billion budget is earmarked for the sector.
The budget was unveiled Thursday afternoon by Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy.
“We know that we’ve got a population that is an older population and along with that comes the need for healthcare,” says Smith.
Notably, he says that will help Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare who he says, like many healthcare organizations, is dealing with staffing shortages. There is $200 million set aside in the budget specifically to address staffing shortages in the sector.
As well, Smith says $224 million is being put towards building and upgrading training centres as a way to boost the skilled trades. While the focus of the centres won’t be specifically on hospital staff, Smith says it will give them a much-needed boost. “This is all to alleviate the healthcare challenges that we have,” he continues.
In speaking about MAHC and the staffing shortage hospitals are dealing with, Smith noted that the housing crisis plays in that, too. “If you don’t have the houses to put someone in when they get here, perhaps that isn’t the destination they will ultimately head to,” he says.
Smith says the More Homes Built Faster plan is on a good track and points to the Housing Supply Action Plan as a reason for optimism. “Every one of those [plans] is designed to smooth the path to get housing in Ontario,” says Smith. As the province grows, Smith says so too does its housing supply.
“We’re on a real roll right now in terms of economic development,” adds Smith. He says the Volkswagen plant that’s set to be built in St. Thomas is proof of that. He believes that will end up trickling down and have a positive effect on the province, however, it will all be for naught if they aren’t able to build more homes.
NDP Leader Marit Stiles says Premier Doug Ford wants Ontarians to think “this is as good as it gets.”
“But things are not normal in Ontario right now,” continues Stiles. “Ford’s budget fails to meet the moment, and shows he isn’t interested in making the investments we need in public health care, affordable housing, or education – all the things that make Ontario a place where people want to live, work, learn, and grow.”
Stiles pointed to the rising cost of living and said the budget offers “no relief for everyday Ontarians.”
Smith acknowledged the challenges many are facing with rising costs. He said the province understands and is helping, notably with the lowering of the fuel tax. However, he says the federal government didn’t do them a favour by increasing the carbon tax. “The good work we’re trying to do can someone get impacted by others,” he said.
He said that for the province to be in good shape people need opportunity, good jobs, and good homes. “We will work through these challenges as a province and as a country,” said Smith.