This morning, York Region MPPs Chris Ballard, Michael Chan, Steven Del Duca, Dr. Helena Jaczek and Reza Moridi, together with Barrie MPP Ann Hoggarth, jointly hosted a presentation and discussion on the 2016 Ontario Budget: Jobs for Today and Tomorrow.
The MPPs elaborated on the highlights of the Budget and took questions from the audience of almost 200 who represented a diverse cross-section of local residents, businesses, municipal government officials and community organizations.
Five important things to know about the 2016 Budget include:
1. Building Prosperity and Creating More Jobs
- Ontario is on track to create more than 900,000 net new jobs by 2019 and our province’s unemployment rate continues to be below the national average.
- Our government is committing to $400 million over the next 5 years to the Business Growth Initiative to modernize business regulations, lower business costs and make more Ontario firms into global industry leaders.
- Ensuring that all Ontarians have a more secure retirement is part of the plan.
- Our government is making the biggest public infrastructure investment in Ontario’s history — $160 billion over 12 years — to help people spend more time with their families and to move goods more efficiently, while supporting the creation of 110,000 jobs per year.
- Student financial assistance is being transformed to make average college and university tuition free for students with financial need from families with incomes of $50,000 or lower, and to make tuition more affordable for middle-income families.
- Ontario is taking action on climate change by investing all the proceeds from cap and trade into green projects.
2. Towards a Fair Society
- Social assistance rates will be increased by 1.5% while providing a further top-up to those with the lowest social assistance rates.
- Our government is supporting the goal to end chronic homelessness by investing a further $178 million over three years under Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy.
- An investment of $333 million over 5 years will be made to redesign and consolidate autism services for children and youth in Ontario.
3. Transforming Health Care
- Our government is increasing funding for hospitals by $345 million, including the first increase to hospital base budgets in five years.
- The Budget includes a proposal to make the shingles vaccine free for eligible seniors — saving them about $170 in emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
- An additional $75 million over the next 3 years will be invested in community-based residential hospice and palliative care-for a total of about $155 million.
4. Making Everyday Life Easier
- The government is making hospital parking more affordable for approximately 900,000 patients and visitors, including 135,000 seniors.
- The $30 fee for the Drive Clean emissions test will be eliminated in 2017-18.
- Wine, beer and cider will be introduced in grocery stores across Ontario.
- The Union Pearson Express (UP Express) fares are lowered to make it a more attractive option for commuters travelling between Union Station and Pearson airport.
5. A Balanced Path to a Balanced Budget
- Ontario is on track to balance the budget in 2017-18.
- While our government continues to invest in the key public services families rely on, we are making progress in our plan to eliminate the deficit by investing in economic growth, transforming government and responsibly managing spending and addressing the underground economy to ensure businesses pay their fair share of taxes.
- 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 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.
Read the 2016 Ontario Budget.