Ontario's Sousa presents 2016 provincial budget

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa presented his 2016 budget on February 25, 2016.  2016 Ontario Budget: Jobs for Today and Tomorrow outlines the next phase of the government’s plan to create jobs and economic growth.  “The plan invests in people’s talent and skills, and their ability to get and create the jobs of the future,” Sousa said.

Highlights include:

  • Post-secondary Tuition: The Ontario government proposes to create the Ontario Student Grant.  Students who come from households with less than $50,000 will be eligible for free average college, and university tuition.  Students from households with less than $83,000 in income will be eligible for grants they won’t have to pay back.
  • Infrastructure: The Ontario government has plans to implement over $137 billion worth in hospitals, roads, bridges, public transit over the next decade.  They estimate this could create 110,000 jobs.
  • Healthcare: Funding is to increase by $345 million to be dedicated to lowering wait times, more homecare, and making the shingles vaccine available to seniors age 65-70.
  • Ontario Drug Benefit: The Ontario government proposes to raise the income level to qualify to $19,300 for single seniors and $32,000 for senior couples.  The annual deductible benefit will increase from $100 to $170.

This budget also dealt with the implementation of a new Cap & Trade system in order to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.  The policy will increase the price of gas of 4.3 cents per litre at the pumps, and $5/month on natural gas.  The Ontario government also proposes to eliminate the $30 cost associated with the DriveClean emissions testing program.  They hope to balance the budget by 2017-2018. To read more on the budget click here

Opposition Reacts to Provincial Budget

The Progressive Conservatives (P.C’s) reacted negatively to the provincial budget.  Leader Patrick Brown pointed out that it makes the province a more expensive place to live.  “Tax revenue is expected to rise by more than $3 billion to pay for Liberal scandal, waste, and mismanagement. Ontarians will see $1.9 billion more in personal income tax, $700 million more in corporate taxes, and $500 million in carbon taxes,” Brown said.  Brown was shown in a recent video clip pressing Premier Wynne on her government’s plan to balance the budget.

New Democratic Party (N.D.P.) Leader Andrea Horwath is disappointed in the budget.  “Unfortunately this budget puts stretch goals ahead of the basics,” Horwath said.  Horwath has recently condemned the Wynne government’s plan to sell off 60% of Hydro One saying they didn’t have the mandate do it.