Ford’s re-tabled Ontario budget pledges $225 million to address pandemic learning gap

Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell delivered Doug Ford’s speech from the throne Tuesday, marking the start of a new legislative session. The re-tabeling of the 2022 budget followed. 

Dowdeswell’s speech largely touted key parts of Ford’s agenda, including building highways and other infrastructure, attracting electric vehicle manufacturing investment, and a skilled trades strategy that seeks to address a labour shortage.

The lieutenant governor further announced that when re-introduced, the 2022 budget will include an additional $225 million over two years to provide direct payments to parents to help their kids catch up.

The Progressive Conservatives re-tabled their 2022 budget on Tuesday afternoon, nearly three months after it was presented to Ontarians.

The budget was first tabled in late April, but before any debate or discussion could take place, the legislature was adjourned so that MPPs could campaign for the June election.

“I am pleased to re-introduce the Plan to Build Act (Budget Measures), 2022 bill today so our government can continue delivering Ontario’s Plan to Build, supporting better jobs for workers while building more highways, housing and hospitals right across the province,” said Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy. “With costs rising, our plan also includes measures to help families, including new direct payments to parents to help their kids catch up and increasing Ontario Disability Support Program payments.”

Beginning in September, the government will increase both the ODSP rate and the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Program maximum monthly amount by five per cent. Future ODSP rates will also be adjusted to inflation.

To help fill gaps in learning for students after two years of pandemic disruptions, the government pledged an additional $225 million for direct payments to parents. Details on how families can access this new support will be revealed later in the year.

The additional investment in tutoring supports and increased ODSP rate will be funded from existing contingencies contained in the government’s fiscal plan as presented in the 2022 Budget, a statement from the Ministry of Finance said.

Due to higher-than-projected taxation revenues, the government is projecting a deficit of $18.8 billion in 2022-23, an improvement of $1.1 billion from the outlook presented in the 2022 Budget.

“We have a prudent and flexible plan which builds on our record of responsible fiscal management, while making the investments that will reduce commute times, support front-line health care and help create good jobs,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy. 

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) said it is disappointed that the budget reintroduced today does not include any new investments in public education. In addition, by choosing to redirect funding away from publicly funded schools, the Ford government has chosen a path toward privatization over funding that creates lower class sizes and delivers in-school support for students with special education needs.

The Ford government also released the 2022-23 First Quarter Finances, which provides updated information about the evolution of Ontario’s economic and fiscal outlook since the 2022 Budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year. 

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