The Ontario Budget is out and as promised, it’s a balanced one. Liberal finance minister Charges Sousa gave out details at Queen’s Park today, saying it contains billions of dollars in health care spending, including a universal pharmacare program for youth, covering the costs of over 44 hundred prescribed drugs for Ontarians under age 24. Smokes will cost you an extra two bucks a carton or so, and the province is helping fund a new abortion pill. A seniors transit tax is contained in the budget, which promises to refund 15% of a senior’s transit costs, up to $130 a year. The province has money set aside for the tech sector too, with money going towards quantum computers, artificial intelligence, and self driving vehicles. Sousa says its expected Ontario budgets will be balanced until 2020 now. PC Leader Patrick Brown says the Liberals are hiding 5 billion dollars in deficits by cooking the books.
• A $141 billion spending plan that is balanced for the first time since 2008
• A $7 billion hike in health care funding over the next three years
• A new $465 million youth pharmacare program for everyone 24 and under
• $190 million over three years for the “Career Kick-Start” job experience program
• 24,000 more affordable child care spots for kids up to age four
• The recently announced 15 per cent “non-resident speculation” foreign buyers’ tax to cool down southern Ontario’s scorching real estate market
• Expansion of rent controls to all units
• Raising the annual salary threshold for when graduates must begin repaying student loans from $25,000 to $35,000
• A new seniors’ public transit tax credit worth $130 a year to be launched July 1
• Tobacco taxes will rise $2 a carton as of midnight Thursday and will go up by a total of $10 a carton over the next three years
• All municipalities will be allowed to impose a hotel and Airbnb tax
In addition, several government services and your auto insurance slips are making the move to online and mobile platforms, as announced in Thursday’s budget.
• Drivers will be allowed to provide proof of insurance “pink slips” on their mobile phone.
• Plan to move “yellow card” immunization records online for parents and guardians.
• Online referral system that connects patients to specialists will be expanded to five regions.
• Free online access to 5,000 eLearning courses on LinkedInLynda.com for students.
• Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) will move to an online application process.
• Simplified access to online renewal of drivers’ licenses and address changes.
• Previously announced public psychotherapy for mental health issues to be available online.