Medical care continues to be the big winner (or big bully?) in the Ontario budget. At over $87.6 billion in annual spending by 2025, medical care receives more spending than child care, education, housing & municipal affairs and social services combined. Annual spending on medical care will rise from $74.9 billion in 2022 to $87.6 billion in 2025. That $12.7 billion annual increase in the budget for medical is as large as the entire budget for postsecondary.
Our medical care system was never supposed to go it alone. It’s meant to be part of a wider system supporting people with the things they need for good health, like decent earnings, homes, child care, and a sustainable planet.
We’re grateful that we can call on the fire department to put out the flames when we need them, but preventing fires is much less deadly, damaging and costly. So it is with health care. Waiting to invest until people are ill is like showing up with hoses once the fire is already raging. We need to prevent sparks from getting out of hand. This means clinics and hospitals should be the last stop, not the first stop, in our health system. The first stops for good health are found in our neighbourhoods, jobs, child cares and schools – something the pandemic made painfully clear.
So long as we fail to slow the flow of sickness into our hospitals and clinics, we will continue to risk burning out our doctors and nurses. Alas, Ontario’s 2023 Budget fails to follow the wisdom that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”