Ontario budget highlights

Highlights of the Ontario Liberal's 2012 budget include road tolls, school district board mergers and jail closures.
Members of the Ontario government applaud Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, seen at bottom right, as he prepares to deliver his 2012 Ontario budget at Queen's Park. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

  • Corporate tax rates frozen at 11.5 per cent, a rate the government vows to maintain until the budget is balanced.
  • A freeze on MPP salaries announced in 2009 is extended for two more years. A pay freeze for executives at hospitals, universities, colleges, school boards and government agencies is extended for another two years.
  • New legislation will clear the way for road tolls on the Hwy. 407 extension. The project will extend the existing toll road to Hwy. 115 in Clarington from its current terminus near Pickering. 
  • High-earning seniors – the government says the top five per cent — will pay a deductible of $100 plus three per cent of their income over $100,000 on their prescription drug costs. Senior couples with a combined income of more than $160,000 will pay a $200 deductible plus three per cent of their family income over $160,000. The change will take effect in August 2014 and is slated to save $30 million annually.
  • Some of Ontario’s 72 district school boards will be merged, though public and separate school boards will not be folded together.
  • Two separate programs, one to encourage consumers to buy electric cars and another to help pay for charging stations, will be folded together. The programs had a "lower than expected uptake." The move will save $43 million over three years.
  • Seven of the province's travel information centres will be closed due to a drop in visits in recent years.
  • The Ontario Clean Energy Benefit will change. The plan gives residential, farm and small business users a benefit equal to 10 per cent of their electricity bill. The province will bring in a 3,000-kilowatt hour cap on OECB payments. This will save an estimated $470 million over three years.
  • The province will move to trim OPP overtime costs by $3.5 million a year over the next three years and delay a plan to replace police cruisers.
  • Provincial funding for Toronto's Luminato festival will be reduced in the next two years and eliminated entirely by 2014-15. The province will commit $1.5 million to the festival in 2012-13 and $2 million the following year before funding dries up.