Yesterday, 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. The Ministry of Finance is forecasting growth in Ontario real GDP of 2.5 per cent in 2015 and 2.2 per cent in 2016. 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.
Ontarians are worried about the state of the economy and how it might affect them and their families. That is why the Budget is being presented earlier than in past years, so that Ontario families and businesses can see how the government’s plan has worked over the past 2½ years to create jobs and grow the economy, and how the plan will continue to work to build more opportunity and security for people.
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, export-oriented 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 Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
The government’s plan is on track to balance the budget in 2017–18.
Some of the investments that will be of particular interest to residents of Oakville include:
· The government will create a simple, integrated, upfront grant — the Ontario Student Grant (OSG) — starting in the 2017–18 school year. Under the proposed system, average college and university tuition will be free for students with financial need from families with incomes of $50,000 or less, and tuition will be more affordable for middle-income families as well.
· More than 50 per cent of students from families with incomes of $83,000 or less will receive non-repayable grants in excess of average tuition, and no Ontario student will receive less through the OSG than they are currently eligible for through the Ontario Tuition Grant.
Moving Ontario Forward
· The Province continues to build priority transit projects to increase ridership and reduce travel times, including the electrification of the Lakeshore West line. Through Moving Ontario Forward, the government will invest $13.5 billion to implement GO Regional Express Rail (RER), which will quadruple the number of weekly trips to nearly 6,000.
· A priority project included in Metrolinx’s regional transportation plan — The Big Move — is to support ongoing transit planning in the region, including Dundas Street Bus Rapid Transit, linking Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington.
Building a Fair Society
· 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.
Making Everyday Life Easier
· The government is introducing many initiatives to improve everyday life for Ontarians. These include lowering hospital parking fees for frequent users, eliminating the $30 Drive Clean emissions test fee, helping with electricity and energy costs, reducing auto insurance rates and using technology to more conveniently deliver public services.
Strong Fiscal management
· 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 Province’s economic plan supports good jobs today in communities across Ontario by investing in infrastructure and in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan invests in people’s talents and skills and their ability to get and create the jobs of the future, by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan also helps all Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.”
— Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance
“Never in the history of this province has a government invested so significantly into our future workforce as this government. With the tuition and job-training investments introduced in this budget, including the Ontario Student Grant, students have more access to postsecondary education. We’re also helping more seniors with the cost of medications and introducing a free shingles vaccine. This budget offers smart, forward-thinking investments that will make our province prosper and will help people to thrive today and tomorrow. I am especially pleased that we are making vital improvements that will make everyday life a bit easier for those who are in greatest need.”
— Kevin Flynn, MPP Oakville
· 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.
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