FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE APRIL 27, 2017
Today, Finance Minister Charles Sousa released the 2017 Ontario Budget: A Stronger, Healthier Ontario, which includes significant investments in health care and education. Ontario’s first balanced budget since the global recession — thanks to a strong economy and responsible fiscal management — introduces free prescription drug coverage for everyone aged 24 and under, makes important investments to reduce wait times and improve access to care, reduces fees and increases access to licensed child care, helps students and makes life more affordable for Ontario families.
These investments will have a significant positive impact on Halton residents. Our community is growing rapidly and Ontario’s commitments in crucial services like health care and education will help to support that growth.
As a leader in economic growth, the Province is set to balance the budget this year and maintain a balanced budget for the next two years. A balanced budget means more funding for the programs and services people rely on most.
Strengthening Ontario’s Health Care
The balanced 2017 Budget launches OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare, a new drug benefit program that fully covers the cost of prescription medications for everyone aged 24 and under, regardless of family income. This program — the first of its kind in Canada — will ensure that young adults have access to universal drug coverage and parents never have to choose between paying for their children’s prescription drugs and providing other essentials.
Ontario is increasing health care investments by $11.5 billion over the next three years.
The 2017 balanced Budget plan includes a new $7-billion booster shot to health care, to improve access to care, expand mental health and addiction services, and enhance the experience and recovery of patients. It dedicates $1.3 billion to further reduce wait times, including a three per cent increase in hospital operating funding this year.
Ontario is committing to several new major hospital projects across the province, adding to the 34 underway. An additional $9-billion capital investment over 10 years will provide faster access to care and help to meet the needs of the growing aging population.
The Province is expanding home and community care programs with an additional investment of $250 million this year. Family and friends caring for loved ones will be better supported through access to respite care, education and training, and a new Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit. An additional $58 million will be dedicated to long-term care this year, a 2 per cent increase in our investment.
Ontario’s new Dementia Strategy will improve and better coordinate services for those living with dementia and their caregivers by providing more than $100 million over three years.
With an additional investment of $6.4 billion over three years, the balanced 2017 Budget reflects the government’s commitment to help learners reach their full potential and will reduce class sizes. The Province continues to construct new schools and renew existing ones to create nurturing environments where children can learn and grow. The Province is providing almost $16 billion over 10 years to help build and improve schools.
The government is rolling out the new Ontario Student Assistance Program, which means free tuition for more than 210,000 students in postsecondary education starting this fall.
Ontario is also investing nearly $190 million over three years towards Ontario’s Career Kick-Start Strategy aimed at creating 40,000 new opportunities for students and graduates to obtain practical experience and help them get jobs sooner after graduation.
Making Life More Affordable
To make everyday life more affordable, the balanced 2017 Budget is strengthening the public services that matter most to people while lowering costs.
The Province is helping 100,000 more children gain access to affordable, quality licensed child care. In 2017–18, Ontario will invest an additional $200 million to provide new fee subsidies and funding for providers to help 24,000 more children up to four years old access quality child care. The government will continue to work with schools and municipalities to fund the expansion of licensed care that is convenient, flexible and in line with local parents’ needs.
The government is also taking action to make housing more affordable for homebuyers and renters with Ontario's Fair Housing Plan. This plan introduces a comprehensive package of measures to help more people find affordable homes, as well as increase supply, protect buyers and renters, and bring stability to the real estate market.
In addition, Ontario is providing an average annual benefit of $130 to about 65,000 seniors through the Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit.
The government is delivering on its commitment to balance the budget this year, building on a successful track record of prudent fiscal management, which has made Ontario an economic leader in Canada and the world.
“A balanced budget is more than just the bottom line number. It’s about finding new ways to help you and your family. It’s about creating opportunities and providing the supports people need to succeed. This balanced budget is dedicated to providing young people with free prescription medications, providing free tuition and helping businesses grow. We are delivering on our commitment to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities for success.”
— Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance
“This is a budget that puts Ontario families first. Halton’s younger residents will benefit from our government’s new universal pharmacare for children and youth, the first of its kind in Canada. Seniors will benefit from a new transit tax credit and dementia strategy. And the whole community will benefit from increased funding for health care, investments in licensed child care, more affordable housing for homebuyers and a significant reduction on their hydro bills. This budget is a demonstration of our government’s commitment to the well-being and success of Ontario families.”
— Indira Naidoo-Harris, MPP Halton
Over the last three years, Ontario’s real GDP growth has outpaced that of all G7 countries. Exports and business investments are increasing, household incomes are rising and the unemployment rate continues to decline — and has been below the national average for 24 consecutive months.
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