Key highlights from Ontario Budget 2019
These are the major items from the Ford government’s first budget and what they mean for Ontarians
Childcare tax credit
The Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit is based on a sliding scale for households earning up to $150,000 per year. Low-income households will benefit the most. Families earning less than $20,000 per year will receive up to $6,000 per child under the age of 7, up to $3,750 per child between the ages of seven and 16 and up to $8,250 for a child with a severe disability.
As the previous Liberal government tried before them, the PCs want to lower costs for motorists, and also make it easier for insurers to offer a broader array of coverage options. The budget does not contain premium reduction targets or timelines, or an implementation plan for its "driver care card," onto which insurance claim funds would be transferred for recipients.
Booze and gambling
The government wants to open online casino-style gaming — currently only available through the OLG — to private companies. In the long-term, the government wants single-sport betting to become legal, but that requires changes to the federal Criminal Code.
Business tax credit
The Ford government is halting its plan to cut the corporate tax rate by one percentage point. Instead it is offering a tax credit that would allow companies to write off capital expenses right away, with the goal of encouraging them to spend money rather than hang on to their profits.
Dental care for low-income seniors
Two-thirds of senior citizens don't have dental coverage, according to the PCs. Its new program would offer coverage to individual seniors making less than $19,300 or couples making less than $32,300. The program is supposed to begin later this summer.
Back to balance
Deficits are projected until 2023-24, when the budget is forecast to hit a "modest surplus." While that is after the end of the PC's first term, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli defended the projection as "the Goldilocks approach" to reaching balance. As in, it shouldn't happen too quickly, or too slowly.
Doug Ford scooped his first budget on Wednesday, when he announced more than $11 billion for a GTA transit package that includes four rapid transit lines, including a renamed Ontario Line (the line formerly known as the Downtown Relief Line).
Licence plate changes
After weeks of speculation, the design of the new Ontario licence plate was revealed. The design includes swirls of blue in two shades, with the new slogan — "A Place to Grow" — along the bottom, with a redesigned trillium in the centre. The new plates (and licences) will be issued "following the exhaustion of existing stock," the budget says.
After much talk of how the old theme park along Toronto's waterfront will be revived, the PCs are teaming up with Cirque du Soleil for between 80 and 90 shows at the site this fall. The government is also inviting pitches for ideas to partner with the province to reinvent the aging facility.
The government offered its first look at revenue from the legal sale of cannabis. In 2018-19, the government expects to take a loss on its Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) operation, which it pegs on initial set-up costs. Revenue by 2021-22 is expected to hit some $40 million.