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Ontario Budget 2016: Creating Jobs for Today and Tomorrow in Davenport

Ontario’s Plan to Grow the Economy, Create Jobs and Balance the Budget in Davenport

On February 26, Finance Minister Charles Sousa released the 2016 Ontario Budget: Jobs for Today and Tomorrow, which outlines the next phase of the government’s plan to create jobs and economic growth. More than 600,000 jobs have been created since the recessionary low in June 2009. Ontario is projected to create more than 300,000 additional jobs by the end of 2019, which would bring total job creation to more than 900,000 net new jobs over a 10-year period. Ontario’s economic growth is now outpacing national growth, and is expected to continue being among the strongest in Canada over the next two years. The government’s plan is also on track to balance the budget in 2017–18.

The government’s plan is creating good jobs today in communities across Ontario by investing in infrastructure and in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth businesses. It is investing in people’s talents and skills, and the 2016 Budget will help more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan also helps people in Davenport achieve a more secure retirement.  I am excited to bring these investments to Davenport and work with the community to invest in our future.

In the coming days I will be sharing more information about what the budget means to businesses, community organizations and constituents here in Davenport.

Investing in People’s Talents and Skills

In this Budget the Ontario government announced several key measures designed to invest in people’s talents and skills.

  • Average tuition will be free for students with financial need from families with income of $50,000 or lower and these students will have no provincial student debt.
  • More than 50 per cent of all students from families with incomes of $83,000 or less will have non-repayable grants in excess of average tuition.
  • No Ontario student will receive less than they are currently eligible for through the 30 per cent off Ontario Tuition Grant.
  • Investing over $1 billion annually in employment, training and labour market programs and services like the Canada-Ontario Job Grant to connect employers and job seekers in Davenport and across Ontario. This program is supporting more than 46,000 training opportunities for over 35,000 employeesacross the province.
  • Creating a more innovative growth economy through the Business Growth Initiative, Ontario’s new strategy to foster the development and commercialization of disruptive technologies and their adoption throughout key economic sectors. This strategy will commit more than $400 million over the next five years and leverage Ontario’s highly-skilled workforce to compete through innovation. This will include steps to build upon our research and development (R&D) capacity in innovative technology, including a $35-million investment over the next five years towards establishing the Advanced Manufacturing Consortium.  The Consortium will include three Ontario universities – McMaster, Waterloo and Western. This industry-academic collaboration will focus on long-term industrial innovation projects to make Ontario a leader in fields such as additive manufacturing and digital components and devices.
  • Supporting competitiveness and job creation in key industry sectors by partnering with colleges to establish a $20-million fund to be invested over three years. This fund will better connect colleges and Ontario companies on applied research projects that result in breakthrough products and services for sale at home and abroad.

Making Everyday Life Easier

The government has introduced many initiatives to help make everyday life easier for Davenport residents, and all Ontarians.

  • Ontario is making hospital parking fees more affordable, benefitting approximately 900,000 patients and visitors, including 135,000 seniors.
  • Since the program’s introduction in 1999, Ontario’s mandatory vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program, Drive Clean, has kept more than 335,000 tonnes of smog-causing pollutants from entering the air. While this program will continue, our government is eliminating the $30 emissions test fee to help reduce costs for Ontario drivers.
  • Ontario has delivered on its promise to introduce the sale of beer in grocery stores, and is nowexpanding wine sales as well. In fall 2016, up to 70 grocery stores will be authorized to sell wine, beer, and cider together across Ontario. Wine will eventually be available in up to 300 grocery stores.
  • Through programs like the energy-saving home retrofit, the government is helping home owners lower their energy bills while supporting Ontario’s climate change strategy. Through the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) low-income households will continue to receive an annual benefit on their electricity bills and by removing the Debt Retirement Charge (DRC) for residential consumers, typical residential users will save about $70 each year.
  • Lowering the fares for Union Pearson Express (UP Express) to make it a more attractive option for commuters travelling between Union Station and Pearson airport. 

Building a Fair Society

The Province is giving people the opportunities and supports they need to realize their full potential.

  • Ontario continues to increase base funding for long-term care by two per cent a year over the next three years.  The government is also making changes to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program to allow a greater number of seniors qualify for reduced fees, resulting in lower costs for medications.
  • Transforming services so that people with developmental disabilities can be more independent. The government is also updating the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy to continue the transformation of Ontario’s housing and homelessness system, focusing on flexible and portable benefits that respond to individuals’ changing housing needs.
  • The Province continues to move ahead with its Special Needs Strategy to help children and youth with special and complex needs receive timely and effective services at home, at school, in the community and as they transition to adulthood. Ontario is also investing $333 million over five years to redesign and improve autism services.
  • In 2016, the government will build on its previous investments in social assistance by increasing rates by 1.5 per cent for adults receiving Ontario Works and people with disabilities relying on the Ontario Disability Support Program. The Province will also provide a further top-up to those with the lowest social assistance rates — singles without children receiving Ontario Works — bringing their total increase to $25 per month, which is $100 more per month than they received in 2012.
  • Through such initiatives as Walking Together: A Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women and acting on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the government is improving social conditions and economic opportunities for Indigenous peoples.

The government is also continuing to transform Ontario’s universal health care system to give Ontarians faster access to the right care, now and in the future.  Highlights include increasing funding to hospitals by $345 million; lowering wait times for key services; creating more integrated, team-based primary care; making more care available at home and in the community; proposing to make the shingles vaccine available free for eligible seniors aged 65 to 70 — saving them about $170 in out-of-pocket expenses; and investing an additional $75 million in community-based residential hospices and palliative care, for a total investment of about $155 million over three years.

Transitioning to a Low-Carbon Economy

To grow the economy and create jobs, the Ontario government’s plan continues to reduce business costs, leverage investment through strategic partnerships, help businesses go global and strengthen the financial services sector. The government is also developing a sharing economy strategy and renewing the Province’s social enterprise strategy.

The global economy is moving towards pricing carbon. The 2016 Budget sets the stage for Ontario to auction carbon allowances in 2017. For that reason, the government is proposing a cap-and-trade program to help Ontario meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, reward innovative companies and ensure that households and businesses thrive within the transition to a low-carbon economy. All proceeds from the cap-and-trade program, projected to be $1.9 billion in 2017, would be used to invest in green projects.

The government is also continuing to roll out its Business Growth Initiative, a five-year, $400 million strategy to accelerate the Province’s shift towards a high-growth, innovation economy and help businesses scale up. It will also modernize the regulatory system and lower the cost of doing business in the province. 

Building on the Largest Investment in Infrastructure in Ontario’s History

Building and revitalizing public infrastructure are critical to strengthening Ontario’s economy and creating jobs for today and tomorrow. In this Budget, the government is investing more than $137 billion over the next 10 years in roads, bridges, public transit, hospitals and schools. That would result in $160 billion over 12 years, starting in 2014–15, which is the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history. These planned investments would support more than 110,000 jobs each year, on average.

The Province remains on track to generate $5.7 billion over time from maximizing the value of government-owned assets — $2.6 billion higher than originally projected in the 2014 Budget. Net revenue gains from the sale of qualifying assets will be dedicated to the Trillium Trust to help fund public transit, transportation and other priority infrastructure.

Strengthening Retirement Security

To reduce the retirement savings gap, the government is implementing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), which will help working Ontarians save for their retirement. The government is well on its way to achieving its goal of ensuring that, by 2020, all eligible Ontario workers will be covered by a comparable workplace plan or the ORPP. To ensure a successful and smooth implementation, the ORPP Administration Corporation would launch the employer verification and enrolment process in 2017, with employer and employee contribution collection beginning in 2018.

At the same time, Ontario remains committed to finding a solution that will allow the needs of Ontario employees to be met under a national framework. The Ontario government will work collaboratively with the federal government, provinces and territories to make progress on a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) enhancement that addresses the needs of future retirees. The main objective is to look at ways to meet the goals of the ORPP in an enhanced CPP framework, while preserving the ability to implement the ORPP, should that not be possible.

Strong Fiscal Management

The government is continuing to invest in the economy, people and a healthy, clean and prosperous low-carbon future, while beating its fiscal targets. These investments will help enhance the public services on which Ontarians rely, as well as stimulate growth. Good jobs and a growing economy are the best ways to support Ontario’s families and generate revenues on the path to balance and long‑term prosperity.

The government is projecting a deficit of $5.7 billion in 2015–16 — an improvement of 
$2.8 billion compared with the 2015 Budget forecast and $1.8 billion compared with the target laid out in the 2015 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review. It is also a $4.6-billion improvement compared with the 2014–15 deficit of $10.3 billion.

The Province is on track to beat its deficit target for the seventh year in a row. By continuing to beat its fiscal targets, the Province’s accumulated deficit is $30 billion lower than it otherwise would have been.

The government is projecting a deficit of $4.3 billion in 2016–17, reflecting an improvement of $0.5 billion compared with the 2015 Budget forecast. The government is also projecting it will meet its commitment to return to balance in 2017–18 — the result of a plan to eliminate the deficit that was first laid out in the 2010 Budget. As an indication of greater sustainability in the Province’s management of its debt, net debt-to-GDP is expected to peak at 39.6 per cent in 2015–16, remain level in 2016–17 and begin to decline in 2017–18. 

With the economy expected to continue to grow and the government’s ongoing commitment to transform government programs and services, Ontario is forecasting to remain balanced in 2018–19.

Quotes:

“This year’s budget contains the balance that is valuable to so many of my constituents. We are focusing on growing our economy and creating jobs, while making substantial investments in people’s talents and skills, and building a more fair society. I’m confident that by lowering costs and enhancing convenience and choice, our plan will make everyday life easier for my community in Davenport. I was truly pleased to bring the 2016 Ontario Budget to business and community leaders. I look forward to their feedback”

                                                                                                                        — Cristina Martins, MPP Davenport

“Today’s budget moves in the right direction to address many of the issues we see in Davenport. Investments in low-income seniors — in particular the shingles vaccine — plus investments in child support for families on social assistance and income support is crucial for poverty reduction. Making post-secondary education more affordable for low and modest income students is also a welcome move to help ensure the success of every young person. We are very satisfied.”

— Kim Fraser, Executive Director, DPNCHC

Quick Facts

  • Ontario’s real GDP increased by 2.5 per cent in 2015, outpacing the national average.
  • The Province plans to provide $12 billion over 10 years in capital grants to hospitals to continue building essential infrastructure. Across the province, approximately 35 major hospital projects are under construction or in various stages of planning. 
  • The Province is providing $3 billion in capital grants over 10 years to postsecondary institutions to give students access to high-quality programs closer to home and to contribute to building a stronger economy.
  • Ontario’s highly educated workforce is one of its greatest strengths. In 2014, 66 per cent of adults in Ontario had a postsecondary credential, up from 56 per cent in 2002 — higher than the rates for any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  • To receive public input for the 2016 Ontario Budget, the government conducted pre-budget consultations across the province. This included 20 in-person pre-budget sessions in 13 cities with more than 700 people, two telephone town halls reaching more than 52,000 Ontarians, nearly 500 written submissions received and online consultations with more than 6,500 users through the Budget Talks website

Additional Resources

Read background information on the 2016 Ontario Budget:

 

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