Dateline: May 19, 2004
The Ontario Government May 2004 Budget re-introduced premiums for health care, based on income. New revenues generated by the Ontario Health Premium will be dedicated to delivering additional health services over a four-year plan.
Ontario Health Premium
The Ontario Health Premium is to be collected by the income tax system, and is effective July 1, 2004. The premium is based on taxable income, and ranges from no premium for those with taxable incomes under $20,000 to an annual premium of $900 for those with incomes over $200,000 in 2005 and later tax years. Ontario joins Alberta and British Columbia as the only provinces charging premiums to individuals for health insurance. Individual health care premiums were eliminated in Ontario 15 years ago and replaced with an employer health levy by which companies paid the health insurance premiums.
Shorter Health Care Wait Times
The Ontario government says that over the next four years it will reduce wait times for cancer, cardiac, cataract, MRI/CT and joint-replacement services. The Ontario government plans to fund
- additional cataract surgeries
- new MRI/CT sites
- increased cardiac surgeries
- more joint replacements
- more organ transplants
- the expansion of dialysis treatments.
Primary and Community Based Care
The Ontario government is putting the emphasis on directing money to primary and community based health care as an alternative to more expensive care in institutions.
Some of the initiatives targeted in the 2004 Ontario Budget include
- establishing 150 Family Health Teams, made up of doctors, nurse practitioners and other health care personnel
- putting more money into Community Health Centres
- providing home health care to another 95,700 Ontarian residents a year, and end-of-life care to 6000 clients a year
- expanding community mental health services
- opening long-term care beds and improving the quality of care
- increasing support to hospitals
Supply of Health Professionals
The Ontario Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities will implement a human resources development strategy to increase the supply of doctors and nurses in Ontario.
Removing Some Services from OHIP
To save costs, some services will no longer be covered by OHIP:
- chiropractic services
- physiotherapy services, except for seniors through home-care or long-term care facilities.