Ford throne speech says more can be done on health staffing; offers no new solutions

Queen's Park

Premier Doug Ford says through his throne speech that more can be done to ease health system pressures, but is not yet offering up any new solutions.

Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell is delivering Ford's speech from the throne, which marks the start of a new legislative session, and it says the Progressive Conservative government is "actively engaging" with health-system partners to identify ideas to tackle the problem.

Emergency departments across Ontario have closed for hours or days at a time this summer, which stakeholders and advocates say is due to a nurse staffing crisis.

The throne speech opens by acknowledging a global "growing sense of uncertainty," amid COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, particularly its impacts on supply chains.

Ford's speech notes rising interest rates in response to high inflation and warns that Ontario, like the rest of the country, must be prepared for the possibility of a near-term economic slowdown.

The speech largely touts key parts of Ford's agenda, including building highways and other infrastructure, attracting electric vehicle manufacturing investment, and a skilled trades strategy that seeks to address a labour shortage.

It also notes that, as promised during the election, the government will boost disability support payments by five per cent and tie future increases to inflation, and offers a new pledge to give an additional $225 million in direct payments to parents "to help their kids catch up."