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Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones makes an announcement with Premier Doug Ford on Jan. 16, 2023.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Ontario’s health minister says there is “no doubt” the province will accept new health care funding from the federal government, even as she expressed concerns about a lack of long-term investment in the deal.

Sylvia Jones, who also serves as deputy premier, made the comments the day after Ottawa offered premiers $46.2-billion in new health care funding over 10 years, a figure that is significantly less than what they had demanded.

Ms. Jones, along with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, is set to meet with federal health minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc on Thursday in Toronto, a Ministry of Health spokesperson confirmed to The Globe and Mail.

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Speaking at a home care announcement in Toronto on Wednesday, Ms. Jones signaled that her government is willing to accept the deal, even as she pushed for longer-term funding.

“There is no doubt that any new health care spending and investments, we will accept,” she said. “I will say, I do have concerns about the timelines.”

Ms. Jones said funding increments of five and 10 years make it difficult to pursue long-term projects, such as hospital infrastructure.

She said her government will push for further details on Thursday to ensure that these are not “short term, one-and-done programs,” so that Ontario can plan for longer-term investments. Ms. Jones also said she expected more focus from the federal government on community care and home care.

In total, including previously committed funding hikes, Ottawa says it will now increase its health care spending by $196.1-billion over the next 10 years. Over the next decade, just under half of the new federal money would go toward the baseline funding that is sent to provinces and territories through the Canada Health Transfer, and $25-billion would go toward bilateral deals. Those individual deals with provincial and territorial governments would target federal cash to specific areas, such as primary care and mental health.

The premiers had been asking for an immediate annual top-up to the Canada Health Transfer of $28-billion, plus a minimum 5-per-cent annual increase. That would have totalled well over $300-billion in new spending over 10 years.

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Speaking briefly at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, Mr. Ford said he is going to review the offer and discuss it again with the premiers.

“I’m confident we’ll get the T’s crossed, the I’s dotted. We’re grateful for the offer, we’re grateful for sitting down with the Prime Minister. But we want sustainability, we need certainty moving forward, not just for a few years, five or 10 years, but decades to come,” he said.

“I’m confident we’ll work collaboratively together with the federal government and I look forward to getting the deal done.”

Ms. Jones also responded to findings from the province’s arms-length Financial Accountability Office, which projected a $5-billion shortfall in health care expenditures over the next three years. Ms. Jones said the office looks at a snapshot in time and that all of the money has been earmarked for future use. “In fact, the investments are happening and will continue to happen,” she said.

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