Ontario unveils first balanced budget in a decade

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Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa was understandably proud of a rare feat—balancing the budget many critics believed was impossible.

With strong job growth unemployment is the lowest since 2007. The GDP also grew by 2.7 % growth, which makes it better than the other G7 countries.

Sousa pointed out that a balanced budget isn’t an end by itself, the idea going forward is to build a strong Ontario that is compassionate and competitive.

Here are the highlights of the provincial budget:
– As part of the career kickstarter strategy, 40,000 new co-op opportunities will help youth hit the ground running
– Recent grads will not have to pay OSAP loans until they make $35,000 a year
– Programs are being created to help workers adapt and change their careers
– Changes are also coming to income security and labor laws
– $200 million has been earmarked for improving energy efficiency in schools
– As part of the province’s commitment to embracing and investing in new technologies including artificial intelligence and quantum technologies, $80 million has been allocated to creating an autonomous vehicle network
– Transit and infrastructure also received continued support which includes increased frequency on GO lines, improving public transit, and repairing and building roads across the province
– Fair hydro plans include 25% reduction in hydro bills for all residents
– To make housing more affordable, property scalpers will be penalized (especially those dealing in new housing developments) and a 15% tax has been imposed on foreign buyers
– Rent controls will also be imposed across the province
– $20 million in new Ontario caregiver tax credits will provide relief for the sandwich generation which is caring for parents and children, plus education and training for volunteer caregivers
– $16 billion has been assigned for building new schools and renovating existing ones
– In a bid to transform OSAP and make post-secondary education more accessible, more than 10,000 eligible students will get free tuition this fall

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Mr. Sousa is also projecting that the province’s books will remain balanced until the end of the decade, supported by a fast-growing economy that has driven up tax revenues. – CINEWS

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