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____ Friday February 26, 2016 ____


Ontario Budget

Ontario’s Investments Creating Jobs for Today and Tomorrow

Government Continues with its Plan to Grow the Economy, Create Jobs and Balance the Budget in 2017–18

Queens Park - With the release of the 2016 Ontario Budget: Jobs for Today and Tomorrow, which outlines the next phase of the government’s plan to create jobs, and economic growth. More than 600,000 jobs have been created since the recessionary low in June 2009, with 3,382 jobs produced in Waterloo Region in 2015. Ontario is projected to create more than 300,000 additional jobs by the end of 2019.“The 2016 Ontario Budget recognizes the importance of Waterloo Region as an innovative hub, driving job creation in our knowledge economy. Support for our local institutions and significant investments in transit infrastructure will help to foster our continued success," said Daiene Vernile, MPP Kitchener Centre.

The government’s plan is creating good jobs today in communities across Ontario by investing in infrastructure and in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The 2016 Budget will help more Ontarians by investing in peoples’ talents and skills, fostering a more dynamic and innovative business environment, strengthening retirement security, building a fair society and making every day life easier for Ontarians.

The government’s plan is on track to balance the budget in 2017–18.

Waterloo Region Highlights

The province recognizes Ontario’s SuperCorridor, with Waterloo Region at the heart of Canada’s most innovative region, featuring dense pockets of startups, research institutions, and world-class talent. To drive continued success and job creation, Ontario is supporting a number of initiatives in Waterloo Region, including:

Advanced Manufacturing Consortium – The University of Waterloo, McMaster and Western will focus on long-term industrial innovation projects to make Ontario a leader in fields such as additive manufacturing and digital components, and devices. ($35 million over 5 years).

Renewed funding for Perimeter Institute, a world-leading research centre for theoretical physics. This will help to foster the next generation of information technology advancements in areas such as quantum computing. ($50 million over 5 years).

On Track with Transit – the province is engaged in high level, formal discussions with our rail partners, along with our federal partners to secure the corridor on the Kitchener line for increased and speedier Go Train service. Expect a significant update before the summer. The province is also supporting investments in the ION, the Hwy 7 4-lane extension, and widening Hwy 401 between Kitchener and Cambridge.

Investing in People’s Talents and Skills

Ontario’s highly educated workforce is one of its greatest strengths. To help all Ontarians reach their full potential and succeed in an evolving economy, the government is transforming Ontario’s student aid for postsecondary education to make it transparent, timely, and targeted to those students with the greatest financial need.

The government will create a simple, integrated, upfront grant — the Ontario Student Grant (OSG) — starting in the 2017–18 school year.

More than 50 per cent of students from families with incomes of $83,000 or less will receive non-repayable grants in excess of average tuition, and no Ontario student will receive less through the OSG than they are currently eligible for through the Ontario Tuition Grant.

Students in families with annual incomes of less than $50,000 will have free tuition at Ontario universities and college. The government will also expand financial support for mature and married students, and access to interest-free and low-cost loans for middle- and upper-income families will be increased by reducing their expected parental contributions.

Most students will have less debt than they would under the current system, and the maximum Ontario Student Assistance Program debt level will be capped at $10,000 annually for higher-income families. Ontario will continue to offer financial assistance for students who have difficulty repaying their student loans.

Building on the Largest Investment in Infrastructure in Ontario’s History

Building and revitalizing public infrastructure are critical to strengthening Ontario’s economy and creating jobs for today and tomorrow. In this Budget, the government is investing more than $137 billion over the next 10 years in roads, bridges, public transit, hospitals and schools. That would result in $160 billion over 12 years, starting in 2014–15, which is the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history.

These planned investments would support more than 110,000 jobs each year.

Fostering a More Dynamic and Innovative Business Environment

To grow the economy and create jobs, the Ontario government’s plan continues to reduce business costs, leverage investment through strategic partnerships, help businesses go global and strengthen the financial services sector. The government is also developing a sharing economy strategy and renewing the Province’s social enterprise strategy.

The global economy is moving towards pricing carbon. The 2016 Budget sets the stage for Ontario to auction carbon allowances in 2017. For that reason, the government is proposing a cap-and-trade program to help Ontario meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, reward innovative companies and ensure that households and businesses thrive within the transition to a low-carbon economy. All proceeds from the cap-and-trade program, projected to be $1.9 billion in 2017, would be used to invest in green projects.

Strengthening Retirement Security

To reduce the retirement savings gap, the government is implementing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), which will help working Ontarians save for their retirement. At the same time, Ontario remains committed to finding a solution that will allow the needs of Ontario employees to be met under a national framework. The Ontario government will work collaboratively with the federal government, provinces and territories to make progress on a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) enhancement that addresses the needs of future retirees. The main objective is to look at ways to meet the goals of the ORPP in an enhanced CPP framework, while preserving the ability to implement the ORPP, should that not be possible.

Building a Fair Society

The Province is giving people the opportunities and supports they need to realize their full potential. Ontario is committed to transforming services so that people with developmental disabilities can be more independent. The government is also updating the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy to continue the transformation of the province’s housing and homelessness system, focusing on flexible and portable benefits that respond to individuals’ changing housing needs.

The provincial government continues to move ahead with its Special Needs Strategy to help children and youth with special and complex needs receive timely and effective services at home, at school, in the community and as they transition to adulthood. Ontario is also investing $333 million over five years to redesign and improve autism services.

In 2016, the government will build on its previous investments in social assistance by increasing rates by 1.5 per cent for adults receiving Ontario Works and people with disabilities relying on the Ontario Disability Support Program. The Province will also provide a further top-up to those with the lowest social assistance rates — singles without children receiving Ontario Works — bringing their total increase to $25 per month, which is $100 more per month than they received in 2012.

The government is also continuing to transform Ontario’s universal health care system to give Ontarians faster access to the right care, now and in the future. Highlights include:

· Increasing base funding to hospitals by $345 million;
· Proposing to make the shingles vaccine available free for eligible seniors aged 65 to 70 — saving them about $170 in out-of-pocket expenses; and,
· Investing an additional $75 million in community-based residential hospices and palliative care, for a total investment of about $155 million over three years.

Making Everyday Life Easier

The government is introducing many initiatives to improve everyday life for Ontarians. These include:

· Lowering hospital parking fees for frequent users;
· Eliminating the $30 Drive Clean emissions test fee;
· Helping with electricity and energy costs with the Ontario Electricity Support Program and removing the Debt Retirement Charge;
· Reducing auto insurance rates; and,
· In the fall of 2016, authorizing the sale of wine, beer and cider together in grocery stores across Ontario, with wine to be made available in up to 300 grocery stores.

Strong Fiscal Management

The government is continuing to invest in the economy, people and a healthy, clean and prosperous low-carbon future, while beating its fiscal targets. These investments will help enhance the public services on which Ontarians rely, as well as stimulate growth. Good jobs and a growing economy are the best ways to support Ontario’s families and generate revenues on the path to balance and long-term prosperity.

With the economy expected to continue to grow and the government’s ongoing commitment to transform government programs and services, Ontario is forecasting to remain balanced in 2018–19.


· Ontario’s real GDP increased by 2.5 per cent in 2015, outpacing the national average.
· The Province plans to provide $12 billion over 10 years in capital grants to hospitals to continue building essential infrastructure. Across the province, approximately 35 major hospital projects are under construction or in various stages of planning.
· The Province is providing $3 billion in capital grants over 10 years to postsecondary institutions to give students access to high-quality programs closer to home and contribute to building a stronger economy.
· Ontario’s highly educated workforce is one of its greatest strengths. In 2014, 66 per cent of adults in Ontario had a postsecondary credential, up from 56 per cent in 2002 — higher than the rates for any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
· To receive public input for the 2016 Ontario Budget, the government conducted pre-budget consultations across the province. This included 20 in-person pre-budget sessions in 13 cities with more than 700 people, two telephone town halls reaching more than 52,000 Ontarians, nearly 500 written submissions received and online consultations with more than 6,500 users through the Budget Talks website.

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