MPP Thompson says budget is a plan for investing

The provincial government unveiled its 2022 budget Thursday in what Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson says is “as much a plan as it is a budget. It is a plan that builds on the significant investments our government has made across the province and here in Huron – Bruce over the last four years.”

Thompson said Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s 2022 Budget – ‘Ontario’s Plan to Build’ has five pillars:

1. Rebuilding Ontario’s Economy
2. Working for Workers
3. Key Infrastructure
4. Keeping Costs Down
5. A Plan to Stay Open

“This is a budget for Ontario and it is a budget for Huron-Bruce,” Thompson said noting there are several key components within the five pillars that will help deliver better jobs and bigger pay cheques for workers, help keep costs down for families, and get shovels in the ground for highways, transit, hospitals and other key infrastructure.

“Premier Ford has a vision and we will get things done,” she said. “This budget is a plan to get things done.”

Highlights of the budget include:

· Increasing the general minimum wage to $15.50 per hour on October 1, 2022.
· Making additional investments in home care by planning to invest up to an additional $1 billion over the next three years. The government is also proposing a new, refundable Ontario Seniors Care at Home Tax Credit to help seniors aged 70 and older with eligible home care medical expenses to help people stay in their homes longer.
· Expanding the diagnostic imaging department to add a new CT scanner that will bring care closer to home at the South Bruce Grey Health Centre.
· Proposing to provide an additional $300 in Personal Income Tax (PIT) relief, on average, to about 1.1 million taxpayers by enhancing the Low-income Individuals and Families Tax Credit.
· Lowering child care fees for parents and securing a fair deal for Ontario by signing a $13.2 billion agreement with the federal government in an important step towards achieving an average of $10-a-day child care by September 2025
· Cutting the gas tax by 5.7 cents per litre for six months beginning July 1, 2022
· Spending nearly $4 billion to support high-speed internet access to every community in Ontario by the end of 2025.
· Resurfacing of Highway 21 from McLaren Street in Tiverton for 22 kilometres.

Expanding Ontario’s health care workforce by:

  • Launching the new Learn and Stay Grant for up to 2,500 eligible postsecondary students who enrol in priority programs, such as nursing, and work in underserved communities in the region where they studied after graduation.
  • Helping retain nurses across the health sector and stabilize the current nursing workforce by investing $764 million over two years to provide Ontario’s nurses with a retention incentive of up to $5,000 per person.
  • Building on the 8,600 health care workers added to the system since March 2020, investing $230 million in 2022–23 to enhance health care capacity.
  • Investing $42.5 million over two years beginning in 2023–24 to support the expansion of 160 undergraduate and 295 post-graduate positions, including at the new medical schools in Brampton and Scarborough.
  • Building and improving hospitals by investing more than $40 billion over the next 10 years in hospital and health care infrastructure supporting more than 50 major hospital projects that would add 3,000 new beds over 10 years.
  • Making historic investments in hospitals with an additional $3.3 billion in 2022–23, bringing the total additional investments in hospitals to $8.8 billion since 2018–19. The government is also investing $3.5 billion over three years to support the continuation of over 3,000 hospital beds put in place during the pandemic and $1.1 billion over three years to support the continuation of hundreds of new adult, pediatric and neonatal critical care beds added during COVID-19.

·      Investing $1 billion annually in employment and training programs to help people retrain and upgrade their skills as the province continues to support better jobs and opportunities for Ontario workers.

·      Investing an additional $114.4 million over three years in its Skilled Trades Strategy to break the stigma associated with the skilled trades and simplify the system.

·      Expanding college degree granting to help build a pipeline of job-ready graduates in applied fields and allow students to gain the education, experience and skills to enter the workforce faster.

·      Providing $268.5 million over three years in additional funding through Employment Ontario to strengthen the government’s skills training and employment programs, including pandemic recovery initiatives.

·      Relaunching the Second Career program as Better Jobs Ontario to support a larger, more diverse range of Ontario workers with $5 million in new funding in 2022–23, in addition to the nearly $200 million invested over the last three years. Better Jobs Ontario helps laid-off unemployed workers access the training they need to become qualified for in-demand, well-paying jobs and connects local employers with the high-skilled workers they need.

·      Working to bring jobs at provincial agencies to communities across Ontario to help spur economic growth. This begins with exploring the relocation of the headquarters of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to London, working in close partnership with the agency and other partners, and identifying main street communities to headquarter new government agencies.

“The people of Ontario deserve a government that has a real plan to build,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy. “Our government’s Budget is Premier Ford’s vision and our plan to cut through the excuses and act right away on the priorities of the people of Ontario.”

The 2022 Budget continues the government’s track record of strong fiscal management. The plan includes increases to base program spending at an average annual rate of about five per cent over the next three years. The Budget also presents a recovery plan that will eliminate Ontario’s deficit two years earlier than projected in the 2021 Budget.

“Our government has a plan, and that plan is working,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy. “But the work is not over, and the job is not done. We are ready to get it done for the people of Ontario.”

Ontario’s real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 4.3 percent in 2021, and employment rose by 344,800 net jobs in 2021 or 4.9 percent, the strongest annual pace of job growth on record.

Ontario is projected to return to a surplus position by 2027–28, two years earlier than forecast in the 2021 Budget. Over the medium term, the government is projecting steadily declining deficits of $19.9 billion in 2022–23, $12.3 billion in 2023–24, and $7.6 billion in 2024–25, representing a significant improvement since the 2021 Budget.

The net debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to be 40.7 percent in 2021–22, 8.1 percentage points lower than the 48.8 percent forecast presented in the 2021 Budget. Over the medium-term outlook, Ontario’s net debt-to-GDP ratio is now forecast to be 41.4 percent in 2022–23 and 2023–24, and declining to 41.3 percent in 2024–25.

Legislative amendments proposed as part of Ontario’s Plan to Build would, if passed, help to create seamless transit services across Toronto municipal boundaries, crack down on auto insurance fraud, and remove the requirement for the WSIB head office to be located in Toronto.