Yesterday, the Ontario Government introduced the 2017 Ontario Budget: A Stronger, Healthier Ontario, which is highlighted by significant investments in health care.
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 health care, helps students and makes life more affordable for Ontario families.
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, so that Burlington families and residents can get ahead, today and tomorrow.
Ontario is increasing health care investments by $11.5 billion over the next three years. The 2017 balanced budget plan features a new $7-billion booster shot to health care, building on the commitment made in the 2016 budget. This investment will improve access to care, expand mental health and addiction services, and enhance the experience and recovery of patients. It includes $1.3 billion to reduce wait times further.
A major component of the province’s healthcare investment is the launch of OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare, a new drug benefit program that covers the full cost of prescription medications for everyone aged 24 and under, regardless of family income.
“The strength of Ontario’s economy has helped our government to make transformative investments in our health services that will benefit Burlington families and residents,” said Eleanor McMahon, MPP for Burlington. “By launching Canada’s first universal drug program for youth 24 and under, we’re ensuring that healthcare remains affordable for young people and young families.”
A number of the province’s healthcare commitments will deliver improved services and patient outcomes for Halton residents including:
With an additional investment of $6.4 billion over three years, the 2017 budget reflects the government’s commitment to help young learners from full-day kindergarten to postsecondary education and beyond. The Province is providing almost $16 billion over 10 years to help build and improve schools. This investment will improve student achievement and help our young learners reach their potential in school and as they enter the workforce.
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. And budget enhancements will reduce the amount of debt our students have to pay by increasing the maximum salary before an individual is required to repay the provincial portion of their OSAP loans to $35,000.
Ontario’s new Career Kick-Start Strategy will provide nearly $190 million over three years to create 40,000 new work-related opportunities for students and recent graduates to give them the experience they need to help land a good job.
This Strategy will complement the government’s ongoing efforts to support job growth, ensuring that the province remains at the forefront of research and development in transformative technologies. Ontario’s investments in artificial intelligence, fifth-generation wireless technology, advanced computing, autonomous vehicles and quantum technologies will make the province’s economy more innovative and create more well-paying job opportunities for our young people.
Strategic investments in the agri-food sector have helped generate jobs locally, with a $1.7 million Jobs and Prosperity Fund investment supporting the Burlington expansion of Ippolito’s fresh produce operations. Ippolito is Canada’s largest fresh spinach packer, and this investment will help the company grow its business, creating and retaining 332 jobs.
“Our 2017 Budget is a reflection of Ontario’s strong economic performance, including a GDP that has risen by 19.1 per cent since the recession and 700,000 new jobs, the majority of which are full-time,” said Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon. “While we’re encouraged by this progress, we’re not resting on it. That’s why we’re taking ambitious steps to ensure our young people have opportunities right here in Burlington. Ontario’s new Career Kick-start will support a wealth of work-related opportunities for students and recent graduates so they have the tools they need to succeed professionally.”
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 investing over $200 million to generate 100,000 more affordable, quality licensed child care spaces. In 2017–18, Ontario will support child care for 24,000 more children up to four years old through new fee subsidy spaces and support for new licensed child care spaces in schools. The government will continue to work with schools and municipalities to fund the expansion of school, community and home-based licensed care that is convenient, flexible and in line with 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.
This plan is accompanied by actions under way that will help young Ontarians to enter the housing market. For example, the government doubled the refund of the Land Transfer Tax to a max of $4,000 for first-time homebuyers.
And we committed to lowering household electricity bills by 25 per cent, on average, beginning this summer, and to holding rate increases to inflation for the next four years.
These measures, made possible by Ontario’s strong economic outlook, will help ensure everyone benefits from the province’s growth in their everyday lives.
“Budget 2017 is a strong reflection that the priorities of everyday Ontarians are our government’s priorities. Thanks to a balanced budget, we are helping families with every day costs, such as free prescription medications for children and youth, lower electricity bills and more affordable childcare so that they can plan their lives, educations and careers with confidence and stability for years to come.”
— Eleanor McMahon, MPP for Burlington
“This is a watershed moment for healthcare in Ontario. As the first Canadian province or territory to introduce universal pharmacare for children and youth, we are making sure that every young person across the province has access to the medications they need to stay healthy, feel better and live full lives. We are easing parents’ worries, while making life more affordable for them.”
–– Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
“With a growing economy and a balanced budget, we have the flexibility to make investments in key services that matter most to people. Providing universal pharmacare to Ontario children and youth is an important investment in our future and it’s the right thing to do.”
— Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance
For more information on the 2017 Ontario Budget, visit ontario.ca/budget
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