Ontario Releases Financial Aid Response to COVID-19

Finance Minister Rod Phillips unveiled Ontario's COVID-19 relief package. Image Credit: Global News

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips presented his fiscal update.  It’s a  $17 billion plan is the province’s aid package for those affected by COVID-19

The package includes $10 billion in aid for people and businesses.  “The people of Ontario can have confidence that we will do whatever it takes to protect their health and well-being,” Finance Minister Rod Phillips said. An additional $7 billion will be spent on healthcare in direct support for people, and jobs.

These additional resources will enhance hospital capacity, protect our loved ones in long-term care, and support our public health officials’ work to flatten the curve and slow the spread.  “As Finance Minister, my number one priority right now is ensuring that our front-line health care professionals have the resources they need to fight the COVID-19 outbreak,” Phillips said.

The Health spending included:

  • $1 Billion Contingency Fund for emerging needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • $935 Million for the hospital sector including $594 million to accelaterate progress on the government’s commitment to address capacity issues and $341 million for an addition 1,000 acute care, and 500 critical care beds.
  • Investing $75 million to supply personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to front-line staff to tackle COVID-19.

“During this global pandemic, I want the people of Ontario to be focused on their health — not worrying about losing their job or how to make ends meet as they deal with unexpected additional expenses,” said Minister Phillips. Other initiatives for  people, families

“We are helping make life a little more manageable for every person in Ontario, while providing additional support to those who need it the most.”

The Ford Government also introduced new measures to benefit families, workers, and employers.  These include:

People and Jobs

  • One time payment of $200/ child up 12 years (or $250 for children with special needs) for childcare costs.
  • Proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months.
  • Supporting more affordable electricity bills by setting electricity prices for residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day for 45 days to support ratepayers in their increased daytime electricity usage as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, addressing concerns about time-of-use metering.
  • Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption.
  • $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Providing emergency child care options to support parents working on the front lines, such as health care workers, police officers, firefighters and correctional officers.
  • Expanding access to the emergency assistance program administered by Ontario Works to provide financial support to people facing economic hardship and help more people meet basic needs such as food and rent during this public health emergency.
  • $148 million in enhanced funding for charitable and non-profit social services organizations such as food banks, homeless shelters, churches and emergency services to improve their ability to respond to COVID-19, by providing funding directly to Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Social Service Administration Boards who would allocate this funding based on local needs.
  • Providing six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for students, leaving more money in people’s pockets.
  • An additional $26 million for Indigenous peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, and costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations.

The government’s plan also includes measures that will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals breaking down to:

$6 billion for five months of interest/ penalty relief on provincially administered taxes

$1.8 billion allowing for deferral of the June 30 quarterly municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days.  This would allow the municipalities flexibility to provide deferrals to residents and businesses while ensuring schools still receive funding.

$1.9 billion for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments for up to six months.

“We’re taking responsible steps to lessen the burden for businesses and people,” said Minister Phillips.

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