Minister Gravelle Proud of Ontario Budget 2016

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Minister Gravelle
Minister Gravelle

QUEENS PARK – “I am proud of our government’s plan that focuses on creating jobs and increasing economic growth in Northern Ontario and across the province. Through this budget we are investing in people’s skills and talent, making everyday life easier, fostering a dynamic business climate, ensuring retirement security and building on our infrastructure investments to create jobs and increase fairness in Ontario,” stated Michael Gravelle, MPP Thunder Bay Superior North.

In a statement issued on the Ontario Budget the Minister states:

Our government is securing Jobs for Today and Tomorrow in Ontario with a plan for the economy focused on building prosperity, creating more jobs, moving towards a fair society, transforming health care, making everyday life easier, and continuing on a balanced path to a balanced budget.

Our plan is creating good jobs today in communities across the province by investing in infrastructure and in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth,

export-oriented businesses. The 2016 budget is investing in people’s talents and skills, and will help create the jobs of the future as a result of expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan also helps Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

We remain on track to balance the budget in 2017–18. The 2016 Ontario Budget includes:

Investing in People’s Skills and Talents 

Ontario’s highly educated workforce is one of its greatest strengths and crucial toward building our economy up. To achieve this;

  • We are realigning Ontario’s student assistance to help all Ontarians reach their full potential. Through the Ontario Student Grant Program, tuition will be more affordable for middle-income families, and free for students with financial need from families with incomes of $50,000 or
  • We are committed to developing a student-centred and sustainable post-secondary sector where students have access to high-quality programs closer to home. That is why we have dedicated $3 billion for capital grants to post-secondary institutions over 10 years across the province including funding of $7 million for Confederation College’s new technology education and collaboration hub.
  • Ontario is supporting the creation of a new Centre for Workforce Innovation to provide leadership and support research and innovation in Ontario’s employment and training system. Thunder Bay and Lakehead University will serve as a regional hub and will provide a unique Northern perspective into Ontario’s dynamic labour market.
  • Ontario is launching a pilot project into Local Employment Planning Councils in 8 communities, including Thunder Bay, that will bring together employers, government, employment service providers, trainers and other stakeholders to improve training services and meet local labour market

Building on the Largest Investment in Infrastructure in Ontario’s History

Building and revitalizing public infrastructure are critical to strengthening Ontario’s economy and creating jobs for today and tomorrow.

  • In this Budget, our government is investing $160 billion over 12 years in roads, bridges, public transit, hospitals and schools across the province, which is the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history. These planned investments would support more than 110,000 jobs each year, on
  • As part of the $160 billion investment our government remains committed to Moving Ontario Forward with our commitment to provide $31.5 billion into priority infrastructure across the province including $15 billion for projects outside the GTHA.

o This includes increasing our current investment in the Ontario Community Investment Fund (OCIF) from $100 million to $300 million annually to build and repair critical infrastructure and create jobs in small, rural and Northern Ontario municipalities.

  • Ontario is investing $550 million into the Northern Highways Program including funding the construction of new passing lanes, road rehabilitation, bridge replacement and four-laning of highways 11/17 east of Thunder
  • Partnering with the Government of Canada, Ontario is investing $272 million through the Small Communities Fund (SCF) to support infrastructure projects in communities with populations less than 100,000 people. Investments from the SCF will help fund the ongoing four-laning of Highway 11/17 between Thunder Bay and
  • Negotiations between First Nations, the mining sector and government in the Ring of Fire are ongoing. We remain committed to developing a transportation corridor in the region and have reaffirmed our $1 billion commitment to that

Fostering a Dynamic and Innovative Business Environment

Ontario is creating a business climate that promotes innovation and increased competitiveness.

  • Ontario is taking steps to help businesses reduce their energy costs including introducing legislation to end the Debt Retirement Charge in April Through this, users of the permanent Northern Industrial Electricity Rate program could save an additional 8% from their energy costs.
  • Ontario is renewing our Social Enterprise Strategy to help the social enterprise industry grow and develop. Recently the Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund has invested in Thunder Bay’s PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise to support the development of early-stage, high-growth social enterprises in Northern Ontario by offering entrepreneurs access to capital, educational and support

Strengthening Retirement Security

To reduce the retirement savings gap, our government is implementing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), which will help working Ontarians save for their retirement.

  • Enrolment will occur through 2017, with contributions beginning in
  • At the same time, Ontario remains committed to finding a solution that will allow the needs of employees to be met under a national framework. The Ontario government will work collaboratively with the federal government, provinces and territories to make progress on a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) enhancement that addresses the needs of future
  • In the absence of a national framework, Ontario is prepared to implement the ORPP

Building a Fair Society

The Province is giving people the opportunities and supports they need to realize their full potential.

  • Through initiatives such as Walking Together: A Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women and acting on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, our government is improving social conditions and economic opportunities for Indigenous
  • Through an enhanced Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy our government will develop a housing strategy specific to indigenous people with dedicated funding for off-reserve
  • Ontario is increasing social assistance rates by 1.5% for adults receiving Ontario Works and people with disabilities who rely on the Ontario Disability Support Program.
  • Our government is also continuing to transform Ontario’s universal health care system to give Ontarians faster access to the right care, now and in the

This include increasing funding to hospitals by $345 million; lowering wait times for key services; creating more integrated, team-based primary care; making more care available at home and in the community; proposing to make the shingles vaccine available at free for eligible seniors aged 65 to 70; and investing an additional $75 million in community-based residential hospices and palliative care, for a total investment of about $155 million over three years.

Making Everyday Life Easier

Our government is introducing many initiatives to improve everyday life for Ontarians.

  • Our government has increased choice and convenience for Ontarians by responsibly expanding beer sales to grocery stores, and is now expanding wine sales as well. In fall 2016, up to 70 grocery stores will be authorized to sell wine, beer and cider together across Ontario. Wine will eventually be available in up to 300 grocery
  • We are removing the $30 fee for the province’s Drive Clean Emissions
  • We are modernizing government services and will release a Digital Government Action Plan to conveniently deliver these

Strong Fiscal Management

Our government is continuing to invest in the economy, people and a healthy, clean and prosperous low-carbon future, while beating its fiscal targets.

  • We are on track to beat the deficit target for the seventh consecutive year. Our government is projecting a deficit of $5.7 billion in 2015–16, and $4.3 billion in 2016–17.
  • Our government is also projecting it will meet its commitment to return to a balanced budget in 2017–18 and remain balanced in 2018-19