Ontario's first balanced budget in a decade to be unveiled

Joy Montgomery
April 30, 2017

Under the pharmacare plan, which starts in January 2018, the government would pay for 4,400 medicines now covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit program.

"We are encouraging the federal government to look at it with a wider scope".

Dobbyn said she is delighted to see the new OHIP+ program in the budget.

The budget also includes $73 million to increase publicly funded structured psychotherapy for Ontarians with anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.

With a balanced budget, we're able to fill that gap and give families back that security that's been lost.

The Liberals rolled out many of their big ticket spends in the months before Thursday's budget.

The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) and Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said they will be actively involved in many stakeholder efforts in both Canada and the United States on the issue of autonomous vehicle. We're doing it because many jobs no longer provide this kind of necessary coverage to families. It is also projected to be the fastest-growing spending area, at an average 3.6 per cent a year from 2015 to 2020, compared to an annual 3.3-per-cent increase in health and 2.8 per cent in education. Despite reaching balance, however, the province's debt continues to grow.

Sousa says the budget includes a $600 million contingency in both 2017-18 and 2018-19, and a $900 million cushion in 2019-20.

"Four years ago, our government promised to balance the budget", Minister Sousa said in his Queen's Park address.

What's more, as the provincial government keeps adding more debt, Ontarians will have to pay more and more interest.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the budget is not, in fact, structurally balanced, because of one-time asset sale money - such as the sale of shares of Hydro One - and accounting "tricks", such as counting public pension surpluses as assets, against the advice of the province's Auditor general. With the deficit gone, this is the moment for government to stand up and play an active role in building a fair society - a place as competitive as it is compassionate and as fair as it is prosperous.

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The Liberals are defending their decision to make the drug plan open to everyone in the age group, regardless of family income.

The plan also proposes to expand rent control to all private rental units - including those built after 1991 - and to empower Toronto and potentially other municipalities to introduce a tax on vacant homes to encourage owners to sell or rent them, media reports said.

Ontario's budget will provide free prescription drugs for children across the province.

"Our plan is the smartest plan and the one recommended by experts", Horwath said.

Alberta and New Brunswick have also committed to publicly funding Mifegymiso. The government had previously meant to keep annual health-spending increases low during this time, and the new so-called "booster shot" of funding is $7 billion higher than the previous plan.

When asked if the province has the money for afford a plan of this size, Sousa was steadfast.

Good, say those on the left.

Horwath complained that the increase in healthcare spending is barely above the rate of inflation. The province said it will invest $80 million over five years to create the Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Innovation Network, in partnership with Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Helped by a strong housing market, cheaper oil and a weaker Canadian dollar, the province has rebounded and forecast economic growth of 2.3 percent in 2017 and 2.1 percent in 2018. This new tax credit allows caregivers not living with the dependent to claim the new credit.

Sousa insists the books will remain in the black for three more years, thanks in part to greater land transfer taxes from Toronto's ballooning housing prices.

It is expected to cost the province $10 million a year. That will increase the cost of a carton by $10 over the next three years.

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