Ontario presents a balanced budget

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa


Ontario presents a balanced budget


Toronto, April 27 (IBNS): Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, tabled the 2017 Ontario Budget which is a balanced one after almost a decade, since 2008 amidst criticism from both NDP and Conservative Party.

The Government brought in some significant investments in health care and education to make a stronger, healthier Ontario.  Also, in  the process the government relaxed certain austerity measures in their progressive budget before next year’s election.

The budget allocated $ 7 billion as a booster shot, to day to day health care programme and an additional $ 9 billion over the decade for building new hospitals and health care facilities.

The province also introduced free prescription drug coverage for anyone under 24 years age, along with reducing the wait times to access health care.

Finance Minister Sousa in a press statement said, “we are introducing universal pharma care or OHIP+ and providing free prescription medicine to our children and youths the first of its kind in Canada”.

This will cover more than 4000 prescription medicine, medical accessories starting January next year. The program fully covers the medical cost irrespective of family income and ensures that young adults 24 and under have access to this OHIP+ program regardless of their family income.

This healthcare investment of the budget will improve access to care, expand mental health and addiction services, along with enhancing the experience and recovery of patients. The plan further allocates strict $1.3 billion to further reduce the wait times at the emergency units in the hospitals.

The Province is also expanding home and community care programs, including home nursing, personal support and physiotherapy services, with an additional investment of $250 million this year. Family and friends caring for loved ones will be better supported through access to respite care, education and training, with a new Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit.

With an additional investment of $6.4 billion over three years, the 2017 Budget reflects the government's commitment to help learners reach their full potential by supporting them from full-day kindergarten to postsecondary education and beyond.

The Province continues to construct new schools and renew existing ones to create nurturing environments where children can learn and grow. The Province is providing almost $16 billion over 10 years to help build and improve schools.

The government is rolling out the new Ontario Student Assistance Program(OSAP), which means free tuition for more than 210,000 students in postsecondary education starting this fall. The repayment of the loan will not start before the student earns $35000 a year salary.

The Province is also helping 100,000 more children to get affordable, quality licensed child care. In 2017-18, Ontario will support child care for 24,000 more children up to four years old through new fee subsidy spaces and support for new licensed child care spaces in schools.

Ontario's new Career Kick-Start Strategy will provide nearly $190 million over three years to create 40,000 new work-related opportunities for students and recent graduates to give them the experience they need to help land a good job.

This year’s budget Ontario is also ensuring it remains at the forefront of research and development in transformative and cognitive technologies leading to tomorrow's growth into a smart city. Ontario's new investments in artificial intelligence, 5G wireless technology, advanced computing, autonomous vehicles and quantum technologies will make the province smarter, build stronger economy by creating more well-paying jobs.

The Liberal government is also taking action to ensure housing becomes more affordable for homebuyers and renters with Ontario's Fair Housing Plan. This plan introduces a comprehensive package of measures to help more people find an affordable home, as well as increase the supply, protect buyers and renters, and bring stability to the real estate market.

These proposed measures include a new non-resident speculation tax of 15 percent on the price of homes in the Greater Golden Horseshoe purchased by non-Canadian citizens, non-permanent residents and non-Canadian corporations buying properties that contain at least one and not more than six single-family residences.

The plan also proposes to expand rent control to all private rental units, including those built after 1991. The move is in support to empower Toronto and potentially other municipalities to introduce a tax on vacant homes to encourage owners to sell or rent them.

The opposition leaders reacted sharply against this balanced budget. NDP leader Andrea Horwath made a press statement saying, “The Wynne budget shows the government does not get it. She does not see the family being squeezed and the people and services they count on are at the tipping point”.

She also added, “to be blunt the budget does not come even closer to undoing the damage Kathleen Wynne and her Liberals government have done in 14 years.”

According to Patrick Brown the Provincial Conservative leader “we are paying more for less, the Liberal numbers don’t add up. This budget is a patchwork attempt by desperate government to fix the nasty created before the next election. It’s a Hail Mary passed by the government that is running the province for years.”  Brown also accused Liberals for cooking the books.


(Reporting by Suman Das)

Ontario presents a balanced budget

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