TORONTO - The province is putting more money into reducing wait times for cardiac procedures and hip or knee replacements this year to meet the demands of an aging baby boomer population, Health Minister George Smitherman said Friday.

The province is spending $281 million to fund 465,000 more medical procedures this year in their five priority areas; hip and knee replacements, cardiac services, cataracts, cancer surgeries and MRI and CT exams.

But the bulk of that cash -- $175 million -- is going to boost the number of cardiac procedures and hip and knee replacements.

Although some doctors say the province shouldn't be focusing its resources on those key areas at the expense of other important surgeries, Smitherman said the money is going to the procedures in the greatest demand.

"Hips and knees have been really, really tricky because the demand is increasing so rapidly," said Smitherman, adding that's a direct result of Ontario's aging population.

"This is really a story about how the health care in Ontario has dramatically increased (its) capacity to deliver more hips and knees."

The cash, one of the more substantial increases in wait times funding, was "extracted" from the federal government in the province's 2004 health accord, Smitherman said.

Now that the province is tracking wait times, Smitherman said it allows Ontario to put that cash where it's needed most.

But others say there is no way for the province to know that cash is being spent wisely since it's not tracking other procedures outside its five priority areas.

Until that changes, the president of the Ontario Medical Association said no one knows whether these procedures should be getting the lion's share of the cash.

"It can't just be the boomers," said David Bach. "It has to be everybody who gets proper health care in Ontario.

"We don't think the only areas that we need (money) are hip and knee and cardiac. We think there are a number of areas where we're really short in Ontario."

Conservative Leader John Tory said he's all for putting more cash into the health care system. But he says the province's focus on five key areas means that people are waiting longer for other equally necessary medical procedures.

"There are big waiting lists now being created elsewhere for other procedures," Tory said.

"We've got to look at an overall plan for the health care system that brings about efficiencies and improves times ... for all health care procedures."