Today the Ontario government passed the Jobs for Today and Tomorrow (Budget Measures) Act, 2016, which outlines the next phase of the government's plan to create jobs and economic growth.
The act will strengthen Ontario's economy to help people reach their full potential and succeed in an evolving economy. The government is making college and university more accessible and affordable for low- and middle-income students and their families through the single-largest modernization ever of student financial assistance. The government will be creating a single, targeted, non-repayable Ontario Student Grant starting in 2017-18 to make average tuition free for more than 150,000 eligible low- and middle-income students, and tuition will be more affordable for middle-income families as well. Details on the new grant will be released later this year.
Highlights of the new legislation also include:
- Making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province's history- about $160 billion over 12 years for projects such as roads, bridges, transit systems, schools and hospitals - supporting 110,000 jobs every year across the province
- Continuing to roll out the Business Growth Initiative, a five-year, $400 million strategy to grow the economy and create jobs by promoting an innovation-based economy, helping small companies scale-up and modernizing regulations for businesses
- Reducing the retirement savings gap by implementing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), which will help working Ontarians save for their retirement. By 2020, all eligible Ontario workers will be covered by a comparable workplace plan or the ORPP; with employer and employee contribution collection beginning in 2018
- Investing in the low-carbon economy, with $325 million in 2015-16 through theGreen Investment Fund to projects that will fight climate change, grow the economy and create jobs. Its investments support energy retrofits in homes, energy-efficiency initiatives and public charging stations for electric vehicles
- Giving people faster access to the right care, now and in the future, with increased funding to hospitals by $345 million; lowering wait times for key services; and make the shingles vaccine available free for eligible seniors aged 65 to 70 -- saving them about $170 in out-of-pocket expenses
- Transforming services so that people with developmental disabilities can be more independent. The government is also updating the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy to continue the transformation of Ontario's housing and homelessness system, focusing on flexible and portable benefits that respond to individuals' changing housing needs.
- Increasing choice and convenience for people by responsibly expanding beer and wine sales in grocery stores. By fall 2016, up to 70 grocery stores will be authorized to sell beer, wine, and cider together across Ontario. Wine will eventually be available in up to 300 grocery stores.
The Jobs for Today and Tomorrow (Budget Measures) Act, 2016 is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
- 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.
- Ontario’s real GDP growth outpaced the national average in 2015, and is expected to continue being among the strongest in Canada over the next two years.
- The government is projecting a deficit of $5.7 billion in 2015-16 – an improvement of $2.8 billion compared with the 2015 Budget, and it is projecting a deficit of $4.3 billion in 2016-17.
- The government’s plan is on track to balance the budget in 2017-18 and to remain balanced in 2018-19.
- 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.