By MPP Toby Barrett
On April 11, the Ontario government presented a plan to balance Ontario’s budget in a reasonable and responsible manner, all the while reducing the burden of debt. At the same time, it will be delivering $26 billion in relief to individuals, families, and businesses.
The tax relief and other consumer measures are being rolled out over six years with the goal of protecting what matters most.
For starters, Ontario’s present government is eliminating over $3 billion in tax increases planned or imposed by the previous government.
Ontario continues the fight to scrap the cap-and-trade carbon tax amounting to over $10 billion in savings during the next six years.
People will see relief of over $2 billion through the implementation of the Low-income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit.
Ontario is helping families with child care expenses through the new Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit, totaling over $2 billion.
Over $150 million in scheduled fee increases have been cancelled for services ranging from driver and vehicle fees to fishing licenses.
The Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive will result in almost $4 billion in corporate income tax relief. Budget 2019 increases funding of almost $4 billion for electricity price relief. All of this is being done without jacking up taxes.
As well, budgets for key ministries like health and education are going up, not down.
The plan increases the health care budget each and every year, including an additional $384 million for hospitals. Over the next 10 years, we are investing $3.8 billion into mental health, addictions, and supportive housing. Recently, $2.7 million was allocated for Haldimand and Norfolk to implement a Community Housing Renewal Strategy.
During the next five years, 15,000 new long-term care beds are being built, and an additional 15,000 older long-term care beds will be upgraded.
Budget 2019 will also fulfill the promise of a new dental program for seniors who are low income and lack benefits. Government is investing $90 million starting at the end of summer 2019 to get this underway.
The new Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit will support families with incomes of up to $150,000 and help them access a broader range of child care options. Families can receive up to $6,000 per child under seven, up to $3,750 per child between the ages of seven and 16, and up to $8,250 per child with a severe disability regardless of age. The CARE tax credit will put parents at the centre of the decision-making process and provide about 300,000 families with up to 75 per cent of their eligible child care expenses. This tax credit will be retroactively available as of January 1, 2019.
Budget 2019 provides the funding mechanism for Ontario’s education plan and lays out an increase in education funding of $700 million during this fiscal year. It will continue to invest more money into education each year. Included in the education funding is $1.4 billion for school renewal for the coming budget year. Over the next t10 years, $13 billion is allocated to build new schools and to update existing buildings.
In addition, parents will see an investment of close to $1 billion over the next five years to create up to 30,000 child care spaces in Ontario’s schools.
The people of Ontario can expect a budget process that protects and continues to strengthen that which matters most.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk