The Ontario government plans to create more than 250 new beds in Ottawa-area hospitals through $45 million in spending as part of the province’s budget announced earlier this week.
Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott announced the funding Friday afternoon at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.
The funding, which is part of the $15.2 billion in health-care spending announced Thursday in the 2020 provincial budget, will see 254 more beds added to boost capacity in Ottawa-area hospitals and institutions amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
From that total, 39 beds and 20 ambulatory offload spaces will be added at the Ottawa Hospital, 56 new beds will be managed by the Queensway Carleton Hospital, 10 beds will be added at Hôpital Montfort and nine more beds will be added at CHEO. The Greystone Village retirement home will also add an extra 120 beds of capacity.
An additional $16 million will be spent on reducing ambulance offload times in Ottawa to get paramedics back into the field sooner. The funding will go towards the Ottawa Hospital’s previously announced plans to build a new emergency offload site in the parking lot of the Civic Campus.
The province will also be spending $1.5 million to hire more dedicated offload nurses at four Ottawa-area hospitals.
Mayor Jim Watson said Friday the funding is “welcome and much needed,” and will “go a long way” in reducing offload times in local hospitals.
The announcement comes less than 24 hours after Finance Minister Rod Phillips presented the provincial budget, which had been delayed from the spring due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The planned budget will see $187 billion in spending, $30 billion of which is directly tied to the pandemic, and a deficit of $38.5 billion.
Among the highlights in the Ontario budget is $2.5 billion in spending in the hospital sector, a new tax credit to help seniors live in their homes for longer, and subsidies on hydro rates for some businesses.
Earlier in the day at the Canadian War Museum, Ford and Lisa MacLeod, Nepean MPP and minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, announced the inaugural Valour Games would take place in Ottawa in 2022.
The biannual event, kicked off with a $3-million commitment from the Ontario government, will become Canada’s version of the Invictus Games, encouraging wounded soldiers and veterans to find new purpose through the “power of support.”