With case numbers slowly increasing, the provincial government has long been planning for this second wave outbreak. Tembo wants to provide readers with confidence and details of how public authorities are responding to the second wave. The plan to manage the second wave represents almost $3 billion in spending. Here are its key pillars:
- To boost testing, $1.376 billion will be spent to enhance and expand efforts to test, trace and isolate new cases of COVID-19. As part of this funding, $1.07 billion will expand laboratory capacity, reduce testing backlogs, support existing assessment centres, and add more testing locations and capacity.
- To prepare for flu season and protect at risk seniors especially, $70 million will be spent to purchase and distribute flu vaccines to deliver a robust and expanded campaign this year. In addition, Ontario is investing $26.5 million to purchase and administer additional flu vaccine doses if required and $2 million to purchase additional antiviral medication to support outbreak management of influenza in institutions.
- To quickly identify and contain major case outbreaks, $30 million will be spent to prevent, minimize and manage outbreaks in a number of sectors, including education, child care, agriculture and health care. Ontario has also developed a COVID-19 surveillance strategy to monitor the virus and detect cases and outbreaks quickly.
- To further boost the health system, $283.7 million will be spent to assist the health system’s ongoing efforts to reduce surgery backlogs by supporting extend hours for additional priority surgeries and diagnostic imaging. The government is also adding 139 critical care beds and 1,349 hospital beds in hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province to support more surgical procedures.
- Another $457.49 million will go to ensure that the health system is prepared to respond to any waves or surges of COVID-19 without interrupting routine health services. This includes helping up to 850 alternate levels of care patients access the proper care in a home or community setting to help add more capacity in hospitals; expanding digital health and virtual services; improving access to mental health and addictions services and supports with a $26.75 million investment; and increasing home and community care service by adding 484,000 nursing and therapy visits and 1.4 million personal support worker hours.
- And hundreds of millions more will be spend to hire new frontline workers, boost the long term care system, and support school reopening and child care centres.