On March 28, Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced the Ontario 2018 budget. With a provincial election scheduled for June, the initiatives announced are likely dependent on the current government being re-elected.
Here are a few highlights that may affect group benefits:
1. Expansion of OHIP+ to seniors 65 and older – August 2019
OHIP+ expands to include free prescription medication for seniors age 65 and older. This means:
The elimination of the annual deductible and co-pay on the Ontario Drug Benefit program.
Savings for the average senior will be $240 per year.
2. Introduction of the Ontario Drug and Dental Program – August 2019
This program supports Ontarians without workplace health benefits, Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) coverage, OHIP+, or drug and dental coverage under any other government program.
The planned program reimburses up to 80% of eligible expenses up to a yearly maximum of:
$400 for a single person
$600 for couples
$50 for each child in a family
The government will be consulting on the proposed program; Manulife will participate in this process.
3. Strategy to combat the opioid crisis
In response to opioid addiction and overdoses, the government is investing more than $222 million to implement its Strategy to Prevent Addiction and Overdose as follows:
Expanding access to naloxone kits — an opioid antidote — through front-line community organizations such as police and fire services.
In April 2018, the Ontario Naloxone Program for Pharmacies expands to include naloxone internasal spray. This means eligible Ontarians have access to an injectable or intranasal naloxone kit from their pharmacy.
4. Increased access to publicly funded psychotherapy
This initiative’s goal is to help up to 160,000 more people across the province who suffer with anxiety and/or depression. It will:
Increase access to publicly funded structured psychotherapy in primary care settings and through mental health and addictions community agencies.
Provide standardized training to primary care teams and community mental health and addictions agencies, so that they can provide high-quality, structured psychotherapy services.