Ottawa, Ontario sign $3.1- billion-agreement to improve health care

'Historic investments' mean to build more hospitals, hire more doctors and nurses, reduce wait times

Ottawa, Ontario sign $3.1- billion-agreement to improve health care

The federal and Ontario governments recently signed a $3.1-billion, 10-year agreement for major enhancements to the health care system in the province.

"Canadians value our universal public health care system, but recently this system hasn’t been living up to its promise. That’s why we’re signing agreements with provinces and territories to help ensure Canadians can access reliable, timely, and safe health care,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Today’s agreement with Ontario will increase access to family doctors, reduce backlogs, increase the workforce, and make the health care system work better. Let’s give Canadians the quality health care they expect and deserve.”

Under the agreement, Ontario will continue to deliver on its Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care and create new primary care teams to help more people connect to family doctors. The primary care teams will consist of nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists and social workers. 

The health teams will ensure families can access timely, quality primary care, according to the provincial government. This will also help reduce backlogs for surgeries and wait times in emergency rooms while improving access to care for patients without a family doctor – especially in rural, remote and underserved areas.

Hiring more doctors, nurses, students

The agreement will also allow Ontario to add hundreds of new family physicians and nurse practitioners, as well as thousands of new nurses and personal support workers. The provincial government will expand enrollment in health care education programs by over 700 spots – including over 70 in Northern Ontario. 

Ontario will also support students with tuition fees, help practising professionals gain new skills and bring more health workers into the field.

The Ottawa-Ontario agreement will also remove barriers to foreign credential recognition, simplify licensing processes, and increase program access for highly educated and skilled health professionals. The province will modernize digital infrastructure – from information reporting, to collection, to sharing.

"This new ten-year agreement will help support our ongoing work in Ontario to connect more people to convenient care close to home,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “Right across the province, we’re making historic investments in health care to build more hospitals, bring on more doctors and nurses, expand home and community care, and reduce wait times. We look forward to continuing working with our federal partners to ensure Ontarians get the health care they need and deserve."

In 2023, Ontario allowed pharmacists to treat and prescribe medications for six common medical ailments, on top of the 13 they have been allowed to treat and prescribe medications for since the start of 2023.

Also in 2023, an arbitrator in Ontario awarded more than 65,000 hospital-sector registered nurses (RNs) and health-care professionals with an average wage increase of 11 per cent over two years – the most significant wage increases in decades.

Ottawa’s latest investment is part of the federal government’s larger work to invest over $200 billion to improve health care. Ottawa has previously announced similar agreements with British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, and Nova Scotia.

Budget 2023 outlined the federal government’s plan to invest over $200 billion over 10 years, including $46.2 billion in new funding for provinces and territories, to improve health care for Canadians. Within this funding, $25 billion is allocated through tailored bilateral agreements with provinces and territories to address the unique needs of their populations and geography in four shared health priorities:

  • expanding access to family health services, including in rural and remote areas;
  • supporting health workers and reducing backlogs;
  • increasing mental health and substance use support; and
  • modernizing health care systems with health data and digital tools.

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