The Ontario government’s second budget of the COVID-19 pandemic lays out a plan to stimulate economic growth. Its roadmap to jumpstart economic growth continues with increased healthcare spending and cash grants to businesses and parents adding $100 billion in new debt and deficits that are not likely to end before 2029.
The deficit for 2021-2022 is projected at $33.1 billion, down from $38.5 billion last year. Deficits of $27.7 billion and $20.2 billion are projected for 2022-23 and 2023-24.
Here’s what the Ford government’s $186 billion plan includes:
For defeating COVID-19
- $1 billion for its ongoing vaccination campaign described as “the government’s most urgent priority”
- $2.3 billion to fund COVID-19 testing and contact tracing in 2021 and 2022
- $1.8 billion to provide care for COVID-19 patients and tackle surgical backlogs lengthened during the pandemic
Small business support
- Approximately 120,000 small businesses that were eligible for the Small Business Support Grant will receive a second payment of between $10,000 and $20,000. Business owners do not need to re-apply for the grant.
- A similar $100 million program is being created for hard-hit tourism and hospitality businesses, which will be eligible for one-time payments between $10,000 and $20,000.
- The Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit has been doubled and will return for a third round, to provide a one-time payment of $400 per child and $500 per child with special needs
- The child care tax credit, CARE, is being extended by 20 per cent this year only, increasing support from $1,250 to $1,500 on average.
Long-term care spending
- $2.3 billion has been pledged over the next four years to the long-term care sector, an increase from the $1.75 billion previously announced.
- This will result in “a development pipeline” of 20,161 new beds by 2025 and 30,000 beds by 2028, the government says.
- New spaces will be offered at both for-profit and public long-term care facilities.
Other highlights include:
- The construction of a new inpatient wing at the William Osler Health System’s Peel Memorial hospital in Brampton, although no timeline was provided.
- $8.4 million over three years to fund a crisis call diversion program within the Ontario Provincial Police.
- An additional $175 million for mental health and addictions support programs.
- A new job training tax credit providing up to $2,000 for an estimated 230,000 people in 2021. Only residents between 26 and 65 will be eligible.
- An additional $2.8 billion to bring broadband access to more people across the province by 2025.