The Ontario government unveiled its new budget on November 5th. It includes $187 billion in total spending this year, of which $45 billion is COVID-19 related spending over three years ($15 billion has already been spent). The province announced that it will run a deficit of $38.5 billion for this year.
This part of the budget totals $15.2 billion with $7.5 billion in new funding:
- $4 billion in 2021–22 and an additional $2 billion in 2022–23 will be dedicated to protecting people’s health and supporting the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
- A commitment to increasing the hands-on, direct care for each long-term care resident to four hours a day over four years (no financial details provided)
- $30 million will be allocated to community services like women shelters and group homes, to help manage the outbreaks of COVID-19
Support for People and Jobs
- A total of $380 million to parents for at-home learning expenses with $200 for each child under 12 years old or $250 for children with special needs under 21 years old
- A further $60 million over three years to the Black Youth Action Plan
- A new Community Building Fund of $100 million to support tourism, cultural and sports organizations
- One-time, emergency funding of $25 million for art and cultural institutions
- A new tax credit for seniors will cover up to 15% of eligible renovations under $10,000 as a support to help them live in their homes longer
- $19.25 million will be invested in mental health supports for postsecondary student
Recovery and Growth
- Small businesses with payrolls under $1 million annually will no longer pay the Employer Health Tax
- An investment of $680 million over four years to increase rural broadband access
- Electricity prices will be lowered for industrial employers by 14% and for commercial employers by 16%
- The Business Education Tax (BET) rate will be lowered to 0.88%, which will lower property taxes for about 94% of businesses
- Should municipal governments choose to, they are permitted to reduce property taxes for small businesses
- A new tourism tax credit will cover up to 20% of eligible Ontario tourism expenses
- $180 million for training and job placement for workers who lost their job due to the pandemic, primarily for service industries such as tourism and hospitality
The NDP released a statement saying there are not enough new actions and compared to the initial budget released in March, it is a $100 million cut in planned spending for long-term care compared. The Liberal’s statement branded the budget a “betrayal” saying it does not do enough to protect people in long-term care facilities, children in classrooms, and groups who’ve been hardest hit by COVID-19 including Black and Indigenous people.
What Is Missing?
Affordable housing was largely absent from the budget. In terms of transit, the province is looking to the federal government for $28.5 million in funding. Poverty was not mentioned in the budget at all.
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