Ontario budget 2024: $9M for planning creation of new York U school for family doctors

The Ford government has tabled the most expensive budget in Ontario's history, with a $214 billion spending package and a ballooning deficit. But as Tina Yazdani reports, critics say the budget fails to make significant investments in key sectors.

As more than a million residents remain without a family doctor or a primary-care practitioner, the provincial government has allocated $9 million in the 2024 Ontario budget to create a medical school at York University dedicated to training family doctors.

The money allocated in the budget will go toward planning the school, but funding for building the facility and operating the program remains unclear.

“When we looked at the numbers, it’s so hard for people … there [are] only so many spots to get into medical school and many have to go abroad, and when they come back there are only so many residency spots. We’ve opened that up,” Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

“York is particularly geared to family physicians, so I am very supportive of that.”

According to York University planning documents, the school of medicine said students will learn in an “integrated setting.”

“Medical and health curriculum and research will support this integrated and preventive model for health care, which aims to promote care beyond the walls of hospital facilities,” York’s website said.

“The model is expected to create greater health equity for diverse communities in the Greater Toronto Area and underserved communities across Canada.”

School officials said the university’s focus on research combined with existing psychology, global health, health policy, health informatics and neuroscience would be able to support the medical school.

Meanwhile, new money in the budget includes an additional $2 billion over three years for home and community care – which sees care provided at home or in a community setting by nurses, personal support workers and others – an additional $965 million for hospitals, a $200-million community sport and recreation infrastructure fund and $120 million more for autism therapies. 

In a statement, Ontario Medical Association representatives said “significant investments” in primary care and home care were “positive steps” but a lot more needs to be done.

“Fixing Ontario’s health-care system will not be quick, easy or cheap, but this budget is a step in the right direction,” Kimberly Moran, the organization’s CEO, said in a statement after the budget was released.

With files from The Canadian Press

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