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Ontario Improving the Health of Mothers and Babies

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Ontario Improving the Health of Mothers and Babies

New Programs Increase Access to Maternal and Child Health Care Services

Ministry of Health

Ontario is supporting mothers and babies with new and expanded health care services, including more midwives, enhanced newborn screening and increased supports for vulnerable babies.

John Fraser, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and MPP for Ottawa South, on behalf of Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, was at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa today to highlight investments in the 2017 budget that will enhance health care for mothers and babies across Ontario.

More than 145,000 babies are born in Ontario each year. Ontario is improving access to health care for mothers and their babies with investments in new and existing programs, including:

  • Newborn screening: Ontario will now screen all newborns for an enhanced range of diseases and conditions with the addition of a new screen for hearing loss, enabling families to receive treatment or language and early literacy support sooner. The province also recently added a new screen for critical congenital heart disease, to detect a range of heart defects in newborns that could cause life-threatening symptoms.
  • Midwifery care: Expectant families will have more access and choice for low-risk maternity and newborn care with funding for up to 90 new midwives to begin delivering care each year in Ontario.
  • Care for premature babies: Ontario is funding breast pumps for mothers of premature babies, to support the healthy development of these babies.
  • Care for vulnerable babies: Babies born at a very low birth weight or who need surgery will benefit from Ontario's Human Donor Milk Bank, which is a vital program that supports vulnerable babies.
  • Free prescription medication: Beginning on January 1st, 2018, Ontario will be the first province in Canada to provide universal medication coverage for children and youth, regardless of family income. Coverage will be automatic, with no upfront costs.

Ontario is also helping thousands of people fulfill their dreams of starting or growing a family. Since the government launched the Ontario Fertility Program in December 2015, it has provided more than 6,500 people with funding for in vitro fertilization and related services.

Ontario's investment in the health and wellness of mothers and babies will have a significant impact on lifelong health outcomes and quality of life, and is the foundation to a healthy population and a sustainable health care system.

Ontario is increasing access to care, reducing wait times and improving the patient experience through its Patients First Action Plan for Health Care and OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare - protecting health care today and into the future.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is investing more than $12 million to support new and existing programs that will improve maternal and child health in Ontario.
  • The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa hosts both the Newborn Screening Ontario program and the Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN Ontario). In 2017/18, Ontario will provide BORN Ontario with new funding to support on-going data collection on Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), as well as improving how pregnancy and infant loss data is collected.
  • Newborn Screening Ontario screens all newborns in Ontario for a range of serious, treatable diseases, amounting to over 145,000 screens annually.
  • Ontario newborns have been screened for hearing loss for over 15 years through the Infant Hearing Program. The new screen announced in this year’s budget will provide children with an enhanced and more accurate screen.
  • Midwifery primary care continues to grow and represent a greater proportion of all births. In 2015/16, midwifery-led births represented 16 per cent of all births in Ontario. In Ottawa, there are six Midwifery Practice Groups and 54 midwives providing midwifery services.
  • Ontario’s health care budget will total $53.8 billion in 2017–18 — a 3.8 per cent increase from the previous year.

Additional Resources


“Our government is committed to ensuring that families have access to high-quality health care services. Through new and expanded services for mothers and babies, we will make sure that all babies across Ontario get the best start in life.”

Dr. Eric Hoskins

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“I’m happy to announce funding to further strengthen newborn screening for all Ontario babies, and we are proud to be the first province in Canada to screen for critical congenital heart disease. Our government is committed to early detection and intervention that improves health and developmental outcomes, so children can lead healthy and happy lives.”

John Fraser

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“I am excited about our partnership with Newborn Screening Ontario. This enhancement of the Infant Hearing Program's newborn hearing screening means children that have hearing loss or are at risk of hearing loss will be identified as early as possible. Together we will be able to help children and families get the supports and services they need.”

Michael Coteau

Minister of Children and Youth Services

“We are so proud of the great work done by Newborn Screening Ontario here at CHEO. Their dedicated staff and innovative clinicians help every single baby born in Ontario get the healthiest possible start in life.”

Alex Munter

CEO of CHEO and the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre

“Over 6,500 babies are born at Mount Sinai every year. Two-thirds of these babies are delivered following a high risk pregnancy, a specialty focus here at Sinai. We provide outstanding evidence-based care to these vulnerable babies including providing donated breast milk to preterm infants. For example, donated breast milk is effective in reducing the risk of a potentially life threatening condition. This new funding will expand access to donated breast milk from our Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank for pre-term infants hospitalized across Ontario.”

Dr. Gary Newton

President and CEO, Sinai Health System

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