Here's what you need to know about Ontario's 2021 budget
Plan features another round of one-time payments for small businesses, families with children
The Ontario government has delivered its second budget of the COVID-19 pandemic, which lays out a plan to stimulate economic growth and jump start what is expected to be a years-long journey to financial recovery.
Here's what the $186 billion plan says, along with some details about its most significant new investments and initiatives:
Massive spending, deficit projections
- Ontario's projected deficit is now $33.1 billion, which would represent a slight decrease from the record $38.5 billion deficit logged in 2020.
- The budget forecasts a surplus by 2029-30. However, the forecasts also include estimates if economic growth is slower or faster than expected.
- If economic growth outpaces current projections, Ontario says it could reach a surplus as soon as 2027-28. If growth is slower than expected, the province says the budget may not be balanced until 2031-32.
Billions for 'defeating' COVID-19
- Ontario is budgeting $1 billion for its ongoing vaccination campaign, which the budget document describes as "the government's most urgent priority."
- The province is also committing $2.3 billion to fund COVID-19 testing and contact tracing in 2021 and 2022.
- The budget commits $1.8 billion to provide care for COVID-19 patients and tackle surgical backlogs lengthened during the pandemic.
Another round of small business support
- The Small Business Support Grant returns with a second round of payments for businesses that lost revenue during the pandemic.
- The approximately 120,000 small businesses eligible during the program's first round will receive a second payment of between $10,000 and $20,000. Business owners do not need to re-apply for the grant.
- Ontario will also create a similar $100 million program for hard-hit tourism and hospitality businesses, which will be eligible for one-time payments between $10,000 and $20,000.
Money for families
- The Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit has been doubled and will return for a third round, this time providing a one-time payment of $400 per child and $500 per child with special needs.
- Ontario will also expand its child care tax credit, called CARE, by 20 per cent this year only. The top up increases support from $1,250 to $1,500 on average.
Long-term care spending
- The budget commits $2.3 billion over the next four years to the province's long-term care sector, an increase from the $1.75 billion previously announced.
- The money will result in "a development pipeline" of 20,161 new beds by 2025 and 30,000 beds by 2028, the government says.
- Ontario says the new spaces will be offered at both for-profit and public long-term care facilities.
Other highlights include:
- $8.4 million over three years to fund a crisis call diversion program within the Ontario Provincial Police, which may result in some calls being diverted to mental health services rather than police.
- The construction of a new inpatient wing at the William Osler Health System's Peel Memorial hospital in Brampton, though no timeline was provided.
- An additional $175 million for mental health and addictions support programs.
- A new job training tax credit, which will provide up to $2,000 for an estimated 230,000 people in 2021. Only residents between 26 and 65 will be eligible.
- Ontario will also spend an additional $2.8 billion to bring broadband access to more people across the province by 2025.
With files from The Canadian Press