Province tables $187 billion budget

ONTARIO – This week’s budget tabled by the Ontario government will focus on seniors and families Finance Minister Rod Phillips said.

The $187 billion budget for the province of Ontario includes money for hospitals and long-term care homes; to help seniors stay at home; reductions for electricity costs; and financial support for families. Minister Rd Phillips delivered the budget yesterday (Nov. 5) in the Ontario Legislature.

Phillips says the current level of spending is not sustainable or desirable, but necessary with the global pandemic. The fiscal plan shows a record deficit of $38.5 billion for this year. Phillips projects the deficit to decrease to $33.1-billion next year and $28.2 billion in 2022.

Phillips says $1.7 billion will be used to create 30,000 new modern long-term care beds. The province plans to increase the average daily direct care of long-term care residents from a nurse or personal support worker to four hours a day, which will be phased in over the next four years. The finance minister says they will recruit and train “tens of thousands” new staff over the next couple of years.

The government is spending $2.5 billion more on hospitals this year compared to last year, specifically aimed to offset COVID-19 expenses. Since March, Phillips says roughly 3,100 hospital beds have been added in Ontario. The province is investing an additional $572 million in Ontario’s hospitals to support additional costs of COVID-19, including testing, assessment centres, laboratory and medical equipment, and personal protection equipment.

The province announced up to a $2,500 credit on home safety renovations and up to $10,000 to help keep seniors stay at home longer. Ontario is proposing a new Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit, which would provide a 25 per cent credit on eligible renovations of up to $10,000. Seniors would be eligible regardless of their incomes and whether they owe income tax. Family members who have a senior living with them would also be eligible.

Ontario will once again provide additional support for parents through the Support for Learners program with $200 for each child under 12 or $250 for a special needs child under 21. Phillips says this means a family with three young children, one of whom has special needs, would receive $1,300 in 2020.

Phillips also talked about the high cost of electricity in Ontario threatening the economic recovery. The finance minister announced the province will reduce costs for commercial and industrial businesses by 14 and 16 per cent respectively. Phillips says this means for a small gym in Grimsby, ON, they would be saving about $800 a month or almost $10,000 a year.

For the arts, cultural tourism and sports organizations $125 million will be available to help offset costs related to COVID-19. Workers in the tourism and hospitality sector and others most affected by the pandemic will also be connected to training and jobs with an investment of $180.5 million over three years, including a skilled trades strategy; investments through Employment Ontario for skills training; and a redesigned Second Career program, to help acquire in-demand skills.

Ontario is proposing to provide municipalities with the ability to cut property tax for small businesses. This would provide as much as $385 million in total municipal and provincial property tax relief by 2022-23, depending on municipal adoption.

$60 million over the next three years will be invested into the Black Youth Action Plan to extend the current program and create a new economic empowerment stream that will support Black youth in achieving social and economic success.

Phillips adds the total commitment to broadband and reliable high-speed Internet and cell service in Ontario is $1 billion.

You can get more details online here.