Health cuts needed to meet budget targets: budget watchdog

Ontario's budget watchdog says the Liberal government needs to make further cuts in health care if it hopes to meet its spending targets.

The government has constrained growth in health spending over the past few years to about two per cent as it tries to balance the budget, largely through freezing hospitals' base operating funding and cutting payments to doctors.

But the financial accountability officer says for the government to keep health budget growth to its target of 1.7 per cent over the next three years, it will need to find further savings.

J. David Wake says the government is set to be over this fiscal year's target by $400 million, rising to $900 million next year and $1.5 billion in 2018-19.

His report comes as Ontario and nine other provinces and territories urge the federal government to pony up more in health transfers than the proposed increase of 3.5 per cent per year.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the report highlights what she and other premiers have been saying, that without new funding, they're unable to balance the competing priorities of the health system, particularly as mental-health and home-care needs grow.