Ontario Liberals Present Pre-Election Budget

Ontario Finance Minister Presents 2018 budget. Image Credit: Macleans Magazine/ CP

By: Laura Steiner

The Wynne government released their 2018 provincial budget Wednesday March 28.  Dubbed a “Plan for Care and Opportunity,” the budget included new investments in healthcare,  as well as detailing investments in post-secondary education.

Highlights include:

  • Introduction of a Seniors’ Healthy Home Program
  • A new Ontario Drug and dental program that would reimburse up to 80% of expenses to a maximum of: $400/ single person, $600/ couple, and $700 for a family of four
  • Creating 30,000 new long-term beds in the next 10 years, including 5,000 by the year 2022

“We  are using are strengthened fiscal position to make life more affordable for families and create new opportunity for businesses across the province,” Finance Minister Charles Sousa said.  The provincial Liberals have balanced the budget this year, but are projected to go back into deficit for 2018-2019.

Other initiatives planned include $3 billion in capital grants for post-secondary education.  This includes the establishment of post-secondary campuses in Brampton, and Milton   Improvements to Milton Go Station are coming as well.  The process is expected to take six months.

A second increase in the minimum wage from $14-$15 is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2019.  The Liberals have also announced funding for an additional 609 pupil spaces including a new child care centre. The Liberals have previously pledged to lower hydro bills by 25% as of July, 2017.

Opposition Leaders React to Wynne Budget

Progressive Conservative (PC) Party  House Leader Vic Fedeli questioned the budget’s timing.  “The Liberals have had 15 years to take health care, education, and child care seriously, and it’s only now in an election year that they’re throwing money at problems they helped create,” he said.  The PC’s have yet to unveil their platform.  Leader Doug Ford has not said if a PC government would run a deficit.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath attacked the budget as superficial.  “It’s clear that Kathleen Wynne believes it’s more important for her to look good than for people to feel good,”   Horwath has unveiled a public dental plan for $1.2 billion.  The provincial election takes place June 7, 2018.