2019 Provincial Budget Notes

CREDIT: I have condensed these “highlights” from an information item sent to councillors by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Neither they or I can warrant that these items are complete or will transpire as stated. I have put some items of local interest in bold type.

Balancing the budget by 2023-24. To 2023-24, total revenue is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 3%. Program expense over the same period is expected to grow at an average rate of 1%.

Deficits are projected as follows:
$11.7 billion in 2018-19, $10.3 billion in 2019-20, $6.8 billion in 2020-21, and $5.6 billion in 2021-22

Reform of social assistance is expected to save over $1 billion by “simplifying the rates, cutting administration and unnecessary rules, and more employment opportunities.”

No increase to the municipal share of the provincial gas tax program as was expected. “Currently it is $364 million to 107 municipal governments. The government will consult with municipalities to review the program parameters and identify opportunities for improvement.”

Municipalities will be allowed to designate public areas, such as parks for the consumption of alcohol. There are other alcohol reforms contained in the budget such as the creation of a tailgating permit for eligible sporting events and extending hours of service in licensed establishments to a 9 am start, seven days a week.

$3.8 billion for mental health, addictions and housing supports over 10 years, beginning with the creation of a mental health and addictions system.

In 2019–20, $174 million for community mental health and addictions services, mental health and justice services, supportive housing and acute mental health inpatient beds.

(Jan’s Note: to put this into perspective, at their last meeting on April 10, 2019, Lanark County’s Social Services Committee received a report about either renovating or rebuilding Lanark Lodge, with the cost of either estimated at $73-$75 million).

A review of property assessment to:

  • “Enhance the accuracy and stability of property assessments;
  • Support a competitive business environment;
  • Provide relief to residents”; and
  • Changes to the composition of the Board of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) to increase the representation of property taxpayers, diluting the proportion of current municipal government representatives, according to AMO.

Public health in 2019-20:

  • “adjusting provincial-municipal cost sharing of public health funding;”
  • By 2020-21, establish 10 regional public health entities and 10 new regional boards of health with one common governance model; saving $200 million annually by 2022.
  • Integrating Ontario’s 59 emergency health services operators (e.g. 52 EMS, Ornge) and 22 provincial dispatch communication centres.

Increasing the supply of housing through a “Housing Supply Action Plan;” details not provided, but to follow

Municipalities will be required to provide real-time reporting of sewage outflows and the government will update policies related to municipal wastewater and stormwater.

Create 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years and upgrade 15,000 older long-term care beds to provide more appropriate care to patients with complex health conditions. In addition to the over 6,000 new beds previously allocated, 1,157 new long-term care beds will immediately be allocated to 16 projects across the province.

“Exploring revenue sharing, including Northern communities, in the mining, forestry, and aggregates sectors.”

The Ontario Provincial Police
“Encourage workforce optimization, including vacancy management, overtime and scheduling” to save $30 million annually starting in 2019-20 without impacting front-line policing and community safety.

$16.4 million over two years to create a province-wide strategy to help combat gun and gang related crime.

The government will invest $315 million over five years as part of its Broadband and Cellular Strategy which will be released later this year.

A new CARE (Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses) tax credit would provide about 300,000 families with up to 75 per cent of their eligible child care expenses and allow families to access a broad range of child care options, including care in centres, homes and camps.

Individual seniors with annual incomes of $19,300 or less, or senior couples with combined annual incomes of less than $32,300, will be able to receive dental services in public health units, community health centres and Aboriginal Health Access Centres across the province.

Reviewing the forestry sector to develop a strategy that includes: challenges the industry currently faces; initiatives to encourage innovation and reduce red tape; and methods to promote made-in-Ontario wood products.

Consultations on the repeal of the Far North Act, removing red tape on economic development projects like the Ring of Fire. Environmental assessment studies have been initiated for all-season access roads to the Ring of Fire.

Development of an immigration pilot initiative across Ontario. The budget also proposes changes to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program aimed at modernizing the program to better address labour market shortages.

Energy conservation and efficiency programs will be phased out, saving up to $442 million.

A return to the default benefit limit of $2 million for those who are catastrophically injured in an accident, after it was previously reduced to $1 million in 2016.