Doug Ford announces substantial health care investment, pledges laws against price gouging

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At a March 26 press conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced $3.3 billion in funding to support frontline health care workers and increase health care capacity in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

He also furiously berated some companies for allegedly price gouging amid the outbreak and vowed to put an order through cabinet to impose penalties on businesses that overcharge for in-demand items during the crisis. 

While taking questions from reporters, Ford said he heard that a well-known grocery store was charging $30 for a pack of hand wipes and that he found the anecdote "disgusting."

“A message to anyone who price gauges: we’re going to come after you and we’re going to come after you hard,” he told reporters, adding that he will move to make price gouging illegal. 

Ford also reiterated that tenants who have lost their income and cannot pay rent will not be evicted during this time. That said, he asked that tenants who are still working to not attempt to take advantage of the situation and to continue paying if they are able to do so. 

As far as health care funding goes, the province says the funding announced today will allow the Ontario government to take immediate action to increase the number of assessment centres, add more acute care and critical care beds, improve testing and provide more protective equipment for frontline workers.

Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 includes $2.1 billion in new and urgent funding to combat and contain the spread of COVID-19, as well as $1.2 billion to continue the government’s long-term plan to fund the health care system.

“Our government will spare no expense to protect the health and safety of our frontline health care workers,” said Ford. 

“They’re always looking out for us and our government is looking out for them. We’ll do everything within our power to ensure our frontlines workers have the necessary resources to take down COVID-19 and keep individuals and families safe.”

The new investments in Ontario’s health care system include:

  • $935 million more in hospitals, including $594 million to continue working on expanding capacity and $341 million to prepare for COVID-19 with an additional 1,000 acute care and 500 critical care beds and to fund assessment centres.
  • Increasing public health funding by $160 million to support COVID-19 monitoring and testing, including investments in virtual care and Telehealth Ontario.
  • Investing $243 million for surge capacity in long-term care facilities, 24/7 screening of staff and visitors, more staffing to support infection control and additional supplies and equipment.
  • Investing $75 million to supply personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to frontline staff.
  • Dedicating $1 billion COVID-19 contingency fund, as part of the additional health care investments.

This $3.3 billion investment includes the government’s initial $304 million announcement to immediately respond to the outbreak.

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