TORONTO (February 25):
The 2016 Ontario Budget, tabled in the Ontario Legislature by Finance Minister Charles Sousa today, revealed that the Wynne government has no plan to fight Ontario’s #1 killer: heart disease. Instead, the government will continue to dramatically underinvest in cardiac care in 2016-17 making it more difficult for heart patients to access timely care wherever they live in Ontario.
“It is clear with this Budget that the Wynne government is more preoccupied with where Ontarians will buy their wine than where and how they will access cardiac care”, said Dr. James Swan, President of the Ontario Association of Cardiologists (OAC). “We question the government’s priorities especially when heart disease is the #1 killer of Ontarians and the financial consequences of ignoring funding for access to cardiac care will cost the provincial health care system millions of dollars,” he said.
Last year, the government unilaterally imposed unprecedented cuts to the Ministry of Health’s physician services budget, wreaking havoc on Ontario’s outpatient cardiac care infrastructure and access to cardiac care. As a result, heart patients now have to wait longer and are more likely to go to hospital for care that they used to receive in the community, which drives up the cost to all Ontarians.
Addressing Ontario’s #1 killer appears to be inconsistent with the government’s singular focus on cost-cutting and revenue generation to fulfill its balanced Budget promise before the next election. “The government is balancing its books on the backs of heart patients and the physicians who care for them,” said Dr. Swan. “Our message is clear: stop playing political games and start investing properly in cardiac care so we can limit the impact heart disease is having on patients and the health care system.”
At pre-budget consultation sessions with the Minister of Finance in January and the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs in February, the OAC urged the government to make fighting heart disease a priority in the 2016 Ontario Budget by reversing its budget cuts and re-investing in Ontario’s outpatient cardiac care infrastructure. The government has once again ignored the advice of Ontario’s cardiologists.
For more information, please visit: www.ontarioheartdoctors.ca.
Dr. James Swan,
President, Ontario Association of Cardiologists