Ontario is a taking action to better protect, support and attract workers in response to the shifting landscape of work. This includes ongoing work to improve and expand transportation, virtual care and broadband internet access, making it easier for more people to pursue flexible work options and remote work, and make Ontario the “work from anywhere” province.
To make it easier to live farther from work, Ontario is investing $84 billion in transportation over the next decade. Ontario has a vision of an interconnected transportation system that provides a safe, seamless and accessible transportation experience for everyone in Ontario.
Ontario is committed to addressing the unique transportation needs of every region across the province, and to developing fast and reliable transportation networks linking smaller communities and larger centres in Ontario, giving people more choice of where to live and work.
Ontario’s recent actions and investments include:
- The $28.5-billion New Subway Transit Plan for the GTA that will transform the region's outdated subway system into a modern, integrated rapid transit network that offers more options and reduces travel times.
- Metrolinx has embarked on a multi-billion dollar GO Rail Expansion program which will see frequent two-way rail service being provided on core segments of the GO Rail network in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, connecting communities across the region. In addition, Metrolinx is in discussion with freight rail partners to identify opportunities to increase GO Rail services to Kitchener, Milton, Niagara and Bowmanville, further extending frequent rail service reach into the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region.
- Committing $2.6 billion for 2021/22 to expand and repair provincial highways and bridges.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how crucial it is for people to have access to high-speed internet to work, learn, access vital services such as health care, and connect with loved ones. There are an estimated 700,000 households, mainly in rural, remote and northern communities, that do not have access to standard internet speeds of 50/10 megabits per second (Mbps).
In response, Ontario’s 2021 Budget increased funding commitments to a historic nearly $4 billion since 2019. Investments through Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan (2019) and a new Accelerated High-Speed Internet Program (2021), will support infrastructure expansion to provide 100 percent access across all regions of the province by the end of 2025.
Ontario’s recent actions and investments include:
- Moving forward with the plan to bring high-speed internet to all communities by the end of 2025 with an investment of nearly $4 billion.
- Introducing and passing the Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021 to help speed up construction of high-speed internet projects and reduce barriers to deploy broadband infrastructure.
- Committing up to $14.7 million in 13 provincial-only funded projects through the Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) Program. This investment will connect over 17,000 homes and businesses with access to reliable, high-speed internet.
- Committing up to $1.2 billion in 58 joint provincial and federal projects for large-scale fibre optics high-speed internet projects across the province. This historic agreement will bring high-speed internet to nearly 280,000 rural Ontario households in hundreds of communities across the province.
- Committing over $109 million to Telesat’s Lightspeed Low-Earth-Orbit satellite project that will help connect remote and Northern regions to high-speed internet.
- Strategically investing in initiatives to improve connectivity in underserved and unserved areas in Eastern Ontario (through the Eastern Ontario Regional Network) and Southwestern Ontario (through the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology project), and in high-speed internet projects in Northern Ontario.
- Developing and announcing a new innovative procurement process that will be led by Infrastructure Ontario and will help connect all remaining underserved and unserved communities in Ontario.
The accelerated use of virtual care during the pandemic has helped make Ontario’s health system more resilient and better able to adapt to challenges.
Ontario Health supports over 30,000 videoconferencing ‘end points’ across the province, which enable patients who are at a location of their choice (e.g., at home) or at a ‘patient host site’ (i.e., a site which ensures equitable access to videoconferencing for patients who do not have access to the required technology or who need support in order to participate in a video visit), access to over 40,000 physicians, nurses and allied health professionals, who delivered over 2.7 million virtual visits in 2020-21.
To further support health care provider adoption and quality delivery of virtual care, Ontario has also led work to verify the virtual visit solutions health care providers use for delivering virtual care and developing virtual care clinical guidelines.
Other ways the Ontario has further supported the adoption of virtual care during COVID-19 include:
- In March 2020, rapidly implementing new temporary billing codes for physician virtual care under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to enable physicians to continue providing care to their patients with physical distancing and other public health measures in place. Since this was put in place overall virtual care adoption has increased:
- Over 29,000 physicians provide at least one virtual service
- 9.9 million unique patients have had at least one virtual visit
- Supporting the rapid implementation of regional and provincial virtual care initiatives. These projects provide patients with a variety of options to safely access health care services during the pandemic: for example, through using devices in the home to transmit clinical data back to providers or to share wound photos or pain scores to name but a few. By the end of the last fiscal year:
- More than 21,000 patients, including almost 19,000 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, were enrolled for remote care monitoring, ensuring that they could receive appropriate care and reducing the risk of infection for our frontline health care workers.
- More than 800 patients were enrolled in virtual surgical transition programs, enabling surgical patients to connect with their clinicians from their own homes and addressing hospital capacity and surge challenges related to COVID-19.
- Twenty-seven projects targeted at front-line home and community care service providers including First Nations, urban Indigenous organizations, community agencies and home care service provider organizations were funded to enable important supports like virtual palliative care and virtual seniors’ programs during the pandemic.