Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy outlined Ontario’s plan to “protect progress” made in the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and reaffirmed the provincial government’s intention to invest in health care at an Ottawa Board of Trade breakfast on Thursdsay.
“Our plan is ambitious, forward-looking, but most importantly, it’s achievable,” said Bethlenfalvy to a full room of Ottawa’s business leaders at the Brookstreet hotel in Kanata.
“Our government has learned a few things through the hard-taught lessons of the pandemic. It revealed the neglect in our long-term healthcare system by previous governments for many years. We are not going to repeat those mistakes.”
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Bethlenfalvy said the provincial government will also prioritize infrastructure investments, such as funding the controversial GTA highway project.
The government also wants to restore leadership in industries such as auto manufacturing, specially electric vehicles. This can be achieved in part by opening up development of Northern Ontario’s so-called “ring of fire,” which has massive deposits of minerals used in electric vehicle batteries.
In the ongoing battle against the pandemic, Ontario has pledged $342 million to support more than 5,000 new and upskilled registered nurses and registered practical nurses as well as 8,000 personal support workers and has made a commitment to providing mental health and addiction services for healthcare workers.
“They were here for us, now we are going to be here for them,” Bethlenfalvy said.
Ontario is also promising $57.6 million, beginning next year, to hire 225 nurse practitioners in the long-term care sector.
Also listed in the review are commitments to the mental health and well-being of health care frontline workers, support for residents of long-term care facilities, and funding for the expansion of mental health and addiction services and home and community health care. It also listed commitments to infrastructure, construction, and job creation.
“It’s all linked. Our economy is a machine,” said Bethlenfalvy. “And if one part of that machine is not working to its full potential, it holds all of us back. But if Ontario is firing on all cylinders, there’s no place I’d rather be.”