March 23, 2023 – The Children’s Health Coalition welcomes the Ontario government’s commitments to allocate additional funding and work with frontline pediatric health partners to identify more ways to connect children and youth to the care they need.

Today, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy tabled Ontario’s 2023 budget, Building A Strong Ontario, which includes this passage:

“Every child in Ontario should be able to get
the care they need, when they need it.”

We agree. We know what needs to be done. We already have the plan. And we are ready to get to work. After decades of underinvestment by successive governments, we have a lot of catching up to do. 

Children’s health service organizations will use increased investments to deliver with accountability and innovation. 

Ontario’s pediatric hospitals and community partners are ready to implement our plan so kids and families see the results quickly.


  • “Children and youth across the province are waiting too long for vital health-care services. What was previously a challenge has now become a crisis, despite the best efforts of our dedicated teams across the pediatric health system. This commitment to invest from the Ontario government is a good first step in enabling system-wide improvements to ensure children and youth in Ontario receive timely, high quality health care.”Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
  • “The backlogs and wait times for young people to get surgeries and so many other services have ballooned in recent years to unacceptable, and in some cases dangerous, levels. Today, the government made children’s health a priority and we are ready to put funding into action immediately so kids can get back to being kids.” – Bruce Squires, President, McMaster Children’s Hospital
  • “Every missed developmental milestone may have long-term, even life-long, effects. Rehabilitation is intrinsically linked to healthy futures that children, youth and families need and deserve. An investment in pediatric healthcare today is preventative medicine for tomorrow.” – Julia Hanigsberg, President and CEO, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
  • “As too many Ontario families know, all too well, delaying care to kids puts their development milestones at risk. It impacts whole families and entire communities. We’re ready to put these investments to work for all.”– Nash Syed, President, Children’s Hospital – London Health Sciences Centre
  • “There is a crisis in child and youth mental health and the investments announced in today’s budget will help to stabilize the system and reduce wait times.  Investments across the children’s health system are welcome and we look forward to working collaboratively to continue to improve access to the care that kids need.” – Tatum Wilson, CEO, Children’s Mental Health Ontario
  • “Ontario’s child development providers look forward to working with the government to find ways to bring more kids into care at home, in schools and in their communities. We are ready to deliver solutions to improve kids’ health and well-being, and alleviate the stress on healthcare for all Ontarians—at every age and stage.” Jennifer Churchill, CEO, Empowered Kids OntarioJennifer Churchill, CEO, Empowered Kids Ontario
  • “We are happy to see the government acknowledge and prioritize the needs of our children.  This is a good first step towards reducing wait times so children across our province receive the care they need. We look forward to working with the government to ensure the health and well-being of children and families in our communities.”  – Lauren Ettin, Executive Director, Kids Health Alliance
  • “Invest in kids’ health now, save for a lifetime. Every day matters in the life of a child and investing in kids’ health is good for everyone – for the individual and for the system. Today’s commitment to invest is pedianomics in action and will pay dividends for generations to come.”Alex Munter, President and CEO, CHEO

Key Facts: Pandemic Impacts on Children’s Health and Access to Care 

  • 4200+ surgeries cancelled at children’s hospitals March 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021
  • 209,000+ non-surgical appointments cancelled at children’s hospitals March 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021
  • 90,000 kids are waiting for child development and pediatric rehabilitation services at home, in schools and in the community.
  • 2.5x increase in eating disorder emergency visits
  • 28000+ kids are waiting for diagnostic imaging
  • 31000+ kids are on wait lists for ambulatory services
  • 8300+ kids are waiting for surgeries
  • 9500+ kids are waiting for ambulatory clinic visits
  • 28000+ kids are waiting for mental health treatment
  • One in nine kids has a disability.  
  • In many regions of Ontario, only 1 in 3 kids receives community-based child development services within the clinical standard time.
  • Kids are waiting three years or more for speech and language therapy.
  • Before the pandemic, kids were already waiting two times longer than adults for health care. 
  • During the pandemic, 300,000 babies were born in Ontario. Without urgent action in the early years – where it can make the most difference – an unprecedented wave of kids will hit the school system in the next few years who have never had the support they needed to succeed and thrive. 
  • Every kid who didn’t get help from a speech pathologist, physiotherapist, neurologist or other pediatric professional will arrive at school already behind where they should be. This will hit schools hard – and won’t just affect the kids who, by then, will need extraordinary accommodation from the school system – but every other child and teacher in the classroom.


The Children’s Health Coalition

The Children’s Health Coalition is a network of partners committed to advancing excellence and expertise in pediatric care – leading to better outcomes and a high-quality, consistent and coordinated approach to healthcare that is centered around children, youth and their families.

The Coalition includes:

  • CHEO
  • Children’s Mental Health Ontario
  • Empowered Kids Ontario
  • Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Kids Health Alliance
  • London Health Sciences Centre Children’s Hospital
  • McMaster Children’s Hospital
  • SickKids

The coalition developed the Make Kids Count Action Plan representing a detailed analysis from the 115 cross-sectoral organizations that are represented within the Coalition. This analysis identified a need for an annual investment of $357 million each year for the next four years to ensure timely access to health care as part of system recovery, to ensure hospital capacity, and to ensure community providers can meet the urgent needs of Ontario’s children.

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