Ontario tables record spending budget as deficit balloons to $38-billion
It’s a record $187-billion budget in Ontario as the province deals with COVID-19. The budget, released on Thursday afternoon, includes money to support the health-care sector, help seniors remain in their homes or with a family member and subsidizes electricity rates for businesses.
There is more spending for parents with children in school. The continuation of the “Support for Learners” program will see $200 per child that is 12 and over given to parents to help cover added costs of education during the pandemic.
There is nothing in the budget that will compel insurance companies to lower ballooning rates but it does make way for Credit Unions to sell insurance through their branches or online through partnerships.
The budget includes $2.5 billion more for hospitals this fiscal year, including $572 million aimed specifically at offsetting COVID-19 expenses.
It also shows a record deficit of $38.5 billion for 2020, consistent with the government’s summer projections. It says the 2021 spring budget will map out a clear way to balance the province’s books.
There are no tax increases for Ontarians planned in the budget but if you are a homeowner the province will allow municipalities to increase property taxes.
Alcohol sales have increased $8-million over last year and the province is promising to allow bars and restaurants to permanently sell spirits, wine, and beer with take-out orders. Cannabis revenue is expected to grow by $80-million next year.
The NDP says the budget does not include any new actions to make Ontario families safer or healthier. The party is criticizing a nearly $100-million cut to spending for long-term care homes compared to what was promised in the spring fiscal plan. The NDP also says there is also nothing new for education and fails to cap class sizes.