Ontario Government Officially Passes 2016 Budget

Today the Ontario government passed the Jobs for Today and Tomorrow (Budget Measures) Act, 2016, which outlines the next phase of the government’s plan to create jobs and economic growth.

The act will strengthen Ontario’s economy to help people reach their full potential and succeed in an evolving economy. The government is making college and university more accessible and affordable for low- and middle-income students and their families through the single-largest modernization ever of student financial assistance. The government will be creating a single, targeted, non-repayable Ontario Student Grant starting in 2017-18 to make average tuition free for more than 150,000 eligible low- and middle-income students, and tuition will be more affordable for middle-income families as well.  “The passage of the 2016 Budget supports our top priority of creating jobs and promoting economic growth, Premier Kathleen Wynne said.  Details on the new grant will be released later this year.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Finance Minister Charles Sousa
Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Finance Minister Charles Sousa

Highlights of the new legislation also include:

  • Making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history – about $160 billion over 12 years for projects such as roads, bridges, transit systems, schools and hospitals – supporting 110,000 jobs every year across the province
  • Continuing to roll out the Business Growth Initiative, a five-year, $400 million strategy to grow the economy and create jobs by promoting an innovation-based economy, helping small companies scale-up and modernizing regulations for businesses
  • Reducing the retirement savings gap by implementing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), which will help working Ontarians save for their retirement. By 2020, all eligible Ontario workers will be covered by a comparable workplace plan or the ORPP; with employer and employee contribution collection beginning in 2018
  • Raising the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan’s annual premium from $100 to $170/year
  • Increasing choice and convenience for people by responsibly expanding beer and wine sales in grocery stores. By fall 2016, up to 70 grocery stores will be authorized to sell beer, wine, and cider together across Ontario. Wine will eventually be available in up to 300 grocery stores.
  • Elimination of the $30 DriveClean fee with emissions testing

The Ontario Government has also introduced a carbon-pricing strategy which, will see the price of gas at the pumps go up by 4.3 cents/litre, and raise the price on heating oil $5/year.  ““It’s clear the Wynne government does not have a credible plan for the province, now or for the future,” Progressive Conservative Finance Critic Vic Fedeli said.