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
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