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Province’s 2021 Budget Announces Additional Funding for Municipalities, Rural Broadband, Business Supports & Transit

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On March 24, the Province of Ontario released its 2021 budget that brought its COVID-19 Response funding to $51 billion. Please head down below for some highlights and click this link for the Provincial Government’s News Release.

MAYOR MEED WARD’S TAKE:

I’m really pleased that the Province heard our call for additional funding related to municipalities through the Safe Restart Agreement, Rural Broadband Internet, support for local businesses, and local transit. This will go a long way in assisting municipalities in our economic recoveries.

Additional Resources & Related Links:

 

Highlights from today’s Provincial Budget:

  • On March 24, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy released Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. The 2021 Budget is the next phase of Ontario’s response to COVID-19 and is the second Budget the government has delivered during the pandemic. – News Release
  • The budget is $186.1 billion budget, with a $33.1 billion deficit.
  • Protecting People’s Health is the first pillar of the 2021 Budget. It includes measures for defeating COVID-19, fixing long-term care and caring for people.
    • To vaccinate every person in the province who wants to be vaccinated, Ontario has made more than $1 billion available for a provincewide vaccination plan. Ontario is also making it safer to re-engage with workplaces, businesses and communities with $2.3 billion for testing and contact tracing.
    • To protect the frontline heroes and vulnerable people, Ontario has made available $1.4 billion for personal protective equipment, including more than 315 million masks and more than 1.2 billion gloves.
    • The government is investing an additional $5.1 billion to support hospitals since the pandemic began, creating more than 3,100 additional hospital beds. This includes $1.8 billion in 2021–22 to continue providing care for COVID-19 patients, address surgical backlogs and keep pace with patient needs.
  • Highlights of Ontario’s plan to fix long-term care:
    • Ontario is investing an additional $933 million over four years, for a total of $2.6 billion, to support building 30,000 new long-term care beds. Ontario is also investing $246 million over the next four years to improve living conditions in existing homes, including ensuring that homes have air conditioning for residents, so loved ones can live in comfort and with safety, dignity and respect.
    • Ontario is investing an additional $650 million in 2021–22, bringing the total resources invested since the beginning of the pandemic to protect the most vulnerable to over $2 billion.
    • Ontario is investing$4.9 billion over four years to increase the average direct daily care to four hours a day in long-term care and hiring more than 27,000 new positions, including personal support workers (PSWs) and nurses.
  • Protecting Our Economy is the second pillar of the 2021 Budget. It outlines Ontario’s plan to support families, workers and employers.
  • Highlights of Ontario’s plan to support workers and families:
    • To help workers with their training expenses, the government is proposing a new Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit for 2021. It would provide up to $2,000 per recipient for 50 per cent of eligible expenses, for a total of an estimated $260 million in support to about 230,000 people in 2021.
    • To help families the government is providing a third round of payments to support parents through the Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit, totalling $1.8 billion since last March. The payment will be doubled to $400 per child for this round and $500 for each child with special needs.
    • To support parents with the cost of child care and help them get back to the workforce, the government is proposing a 20 per cent enhancement of the CARE tax credit for 2021. This would increase support from $1,250 to $1,500, on average, providing about  $75 million in additional support for the child care expenses of over 300,000 families.
  • Highlights of Ontario’s plan to support jobs:
    • To help small businesses that have been most affected by the necessary restrictions to protect people from COVID-19, Ontario is providing a second round of Ontario Small Business Support Grant payments to eligible recipients. Approximately 120,000 small businesses will automatically benefit from an additional $1.7 billion in relief through this second round of support in the form of grants of a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 — bringing the estimated total support provided through this grant to $3.4 billion.
    • To support Ontario’s tourism, hospitality and culture industries that have been among the most heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario is investing an additional $400 million over the next three years in new initiatives to support these sectors. This builds on previously announced investments of $225 million, bringing the total to more than $625 million since the pandemic began.
    • To connect homes, businesses and communities to broadband — which COVID-19 has demonstrated is a necessity, not a luxury — Ontario is investing $2.8 billion, bringing the Province’s total investment to nearly $4 billion over six years beginning 2019–20.
  • Highlights of Ontario’s plan to support communities:
    • To support faith-based and cultural organizations that are struggling due to the additional costs caused by COVID-19, Ontario will be making up to $50 million available for grants to eligible organizations.
    • To support Ontario’s 444 municipalities, the Province’s key partners in the fight against COVID-19, the government is providing almost $1 billion in additional financial relief in 2021 to help preserve vital public services and support economic recovery. This builds on the $4 billion in federal–provincial support provided to communities across the province under the Safe Restart Agreement. Ontario joins municipalities in our continued call for the federal funding to these important provincial investments.
    • $150 million in additional provincial funding to support municipal transit systems in 2021 ,including expanded eligibility for municipal–provincial priorities such as fare and service integration and on‐demand microtransit.
    • To provide continued stability, Ontario is implementing a further postponement of the property tax reassessment.
    • Through the Property Assessment and Taxation Review, the government will be seeking input from municipalities, taxpayers and interested stakeholders regarding the timing and valuation date for the next reassessment. The outcomes of the consultation will be communicated in fall 2021.

ADDITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS:

General

  • Today (March, 24, 2021) Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board, released Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy.
  • The 2021 Budget builds on investments in response to the pandemic, bringing total investments to $16.3 billion to protect people’s health and $23.3 billion to protect our economy. Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan support now totals $51 billion.
  • The 2021 Budget is built on two pillars:
    • Protecting People’s Health is the first pillar of the 2021 Budget. It includes measures for defeating COVID-19, fixing long-term care and caring for people.
    • Protecting Our Economy is the second pillar of the 2021 Budget. It outlines Ontario’s plan to support families, workers and employers.
  • The Provincial Government’s real gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have declined by 5.7 per cent in 2020. As the economy recovers, Ontario’s real GDP and employment are both forecast to surpass their pre-pandemic levels in early 2022.
  • Ontario is projecting a $38.5 billion deficit in 2020–21. Over the medium term, the Provincial Government projects steadily declining deficits of $33.1 billion in 2021–22, $27.7 billion in 2022–23 and $20.2 billion in 2023–24.

Protecting People’s Health

Accessibility

  • The Provincial Government is investing $3.7 million in 2021–22 to help remove barriers and provide safe, accessible transportation for persons with disabilities and older adults with limited mobility to travel to their COVID‐19 vaccination appointments.

Child Care

  • The Provincial Government is providing a third round of payments to support parents through the Ontario COVID‐19 Child Benefit, totalling $1.8 billion since last March. The payment will be doubled to $400 per child for this round and $500 for each child with special needs, which means a family with three young children, one of whom has special needs, will receive $2,600 in total after the third round of payments.
  • To support children and youth with special needs to live happier and healthier lives, Ontario is investing $240 million over four years, beginning in 2021–22. This investment will ensure that more children and families have access to critical services when they need them and build additional service capacity in early intervention rehabilitation and Preschool Speech and Language Program services.

COVID-19 Testing

  • Ontario is building on its testing strategy by investing $2.3 billion in 2021–22 and is expanding the use of rapid testing in high priority areas, such as schools, congregate settings, workplaces and high priority communities.
  • The province plans to provide up to 118,000 tests per week for asymptomatic staff and essential visitors such as personal support workers or other care providers entering retirement homes.
  • The province will continue to deploy rapid testing in workplaces, including up to 300,000 COVID‐19 tests per week for asymptomatic staff in key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain, mining, construction and food processing.
  • Ontario is also working with a broad range of congregate care settings to onboard interested organizations to deploy rapid antigen tests in the coming weeks, including to residential mental health centres, adult and children’s residences, supportive housing and other congregate living settings. Going forward, the province will be able to deploy up to approximately one million tests per week across targeted sectors.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

  • Ontario is making additional investments in key communities. This includes investments of $1.6 million over two years to support the Anti‐Racism and Anti‐Hate Grant program, which will support community based anti‐racism initiatives focusing on anti‐Black racism, anti‐Indigenous racism, anti‐Semitism and Islamophobia. This builds on a $60 million investment in the Black Youth Action Plan.

Health Care

  • Ontario will invest an additional $1.8 billion in the hospital sector in 2021–22 bringing the total additional investment in hospitals since the start of the pandemic to over $5.1 billion. Building on the $3.4 billion provided in 2020–21, this additional $1.8 billion investment in 2021–22 includes:
    • $760 million to support more than 3,100 hospital beds to help the sector continue to provide care for COVID‐19 patients as well as other patients;
    • $300 million to reduce surgical backlogs from delayed or cancelled surgeries and procedures due to the COVID‐19 pandemic; and
    • $778 million to support hospitals to keep pace with patient needs and to increase access to high‐quality care.
  • Ontario is investing $50 million in 2021–22 to ensure IPAC resources and expertise are available across the health system including hospitals and public health units as well as other congregate settings.

Indigenous

  • Beginning in 2020–21, Ontario is investing more than $1 billion as part of Ontario’s vaccination plan, including $50 million to support vaccinations in First Nations and urban Indigenous communities.
  • Ontario is investing an additional $4 million in 2021–22 to support First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations. This includes funding for contact tracing, self‐isolation and resources to combat food insecurity and housing shortages.

Long-Term Care

  • Ontario is investing up to $650 million in additional funding in 2021–22 to protect loved ones in long‐term care from the virus and to stabilize homes, in addition to providing $30 million annually to recruit, retain and train infection prevention and control staff in long‐term care homes across the province.
  • Ontario is investing another $933 million over the next four years to build more long‐term care beds.
  • To expedite long‐term care development, the Provincial Government is moving forward with the approval of 9,478 new beds and the upgrade of an additional 5,212 existing beds.
    • In selecting projects, Ontario is implementing lessons learned on improved infection prevention and control measures, particularly the elimination of three‐ and four‐bed ward rooms. Long‐term care development projects will also add capacity for high need areas, Francophone and Indigenous communities and promote the development of campuses of care.
  • The Provincial Government is making up to $246 million available over the next four years to prioritize upgrades that will enhance resident safety and comfort, such as air conditioning.
  • More than 1.8 million rapid antigen tests have been deployed to 567 long‐term care homes. Going forward, the province will provide approximately 385,000 tests per week for asymptomatic staff, support workers, essential caregivers, students and volunteers.
  • Ontario began a Community Paramedicine for Long‐Term Care pilot program in five communities in 2020 and is investing approximately $160 million over three years to support the program in 33 communities.

Mental Health

  • To help the thousands of people struggling with mental health and addictions issues, Ontario is providing additional funding of $175 million in 2021–22 as part of the historic investment of $3.8 billion over 10 years, to provide more and better care for everyone who needs it.
  • Ontario is investing $8.4 million over three years in a crisis call diversion This program will offer immediate support for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis, ultimately providing the right supports, which may include diversion to appropriate mental health services.

Policing

  • Building on this support, Ontario is investing an additional $2.1 million over three years to expand victim and sexual assault services in underserved communities, expand free legal support services for survivors of sexual violence across the province, and improve collaboration across the sector to provide seamless supports to victims and survivors. 

Seniors

  • To help seniors stay in the homes they love, longer, Ontario has introduced the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit for 2021. This new credit will provide an estimated $30 million in support for about 27,000 seniors and people who live with senior relatives.

Vaccines

  • The Provincial Government is investing more than $1 billion as part of Ontario’s vaccination plan, beginning in 2020–21 to support the administration, distribution and rollout of Ontario’s COVID‐19 vaccination campaign, including $50 million to support vaccinations in First Nations and Urban Indigenous communities.
  • Ontario’s vaccination rollout will culminate with Phase Three when vaccines are available for everyone who wishes to be immunized.

Protecting Our Economy

Agriculture

  • The Provincial Government is investing $10 million in 2021–22 for a one‐year extension to the Enhanced Agri‐food Workplace Protection Program announced in June 2020. This will support the implementation of measures to prevent and control COVID‐19 and to address unforeseen worker health and safety issues.
  • Ontario is investing up to $5 million in 2021–22 for a one‐year extension for AgriRecovery initiatives, including those related to livestock processing capacity, such as beef and pork set aside programs.

Broadband

  • The Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021 would help accelerate timely deployment of reliable, high‐speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas throughout Ontario. If passed, this legislation would remove barriers to help build better infrastructure faster, strengthen communities and boost the economy.
  • The 2021 Budget commits a historic new investment of $2.8 billion in broadband infrastructure to ensure that every region in the province has access to reliable broadband services by 2025.
  • The new funding announced in the 2021 Budget increases Ontario’s overall investment in broadband to nearly $4 billion over six years beginning 2019–20.

Child Care

  • The Provincial Government has committed to creating up to 30,000 new child care spaces, including up to 10,000 spaces in new schools.
  • To support parents with the cost of child care and help them get back into the workforce, the Provincial Government is proposing a 20 per cent enhancement of the CARE tax credit for 2021. This would increase support from $1,250 to $1,500, on average, providing about $75 million in additional support for the child care expenses of over 300,000 families.

Economic Development

  • In the 2021 Budget, Ontario is investing an additional $10 million in the Digital Main Street program in 2021–22 to help more small businesses achieve a digital transformation and serve customers effectively online. The program will continue to provide digital transformation grants, an online learning platform, training programs, and Digital Service Squads offering technical support to small business owners.
  • The Provincial Government is introducing the new Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant, which will provide an estimated $100 million in one‐time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses.

Education

  • The Provincial Government is investing about $14 billion in capital grants over 10 years to build more schools, upgrade existing facilities across Ontario and support education‐related projects. This includes $1.4 billion in school renewal for the 2021–22 school year, which will ensure excellent learning environments.
    • As part of the Provincial Government’s ongoing efforts to improve and modernize infrastructure, Ontario is investing $550 million in the 2020–21 school year to build 20 new schools and eight permanent additions to existing schools.
  • The Provincial Government is providing an additional $381 million, through the federal Safe Return to Class Fund, including investments of $50 million for HEPA filters and other immediate measures to optimize air quality and ventilation.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

  • Dedicating $117.3 million in targeted employment and training supports to assist women, racialized individuals, Indigenous peoples, youth and people with disabilities who are facing the highest rates of unemployment during the pandemic.
  • To advise the Provincial Government on this vital work, Ontario’s Minister of Finance and the Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues will establish a task force to ensure inclusive economic growth is achieved. The mandate of this group will seek to address the unique and disproportionate economic barriers women face, particularly in an economy that will look different after COVID‐19.

Environment

  • Ontario is investing $56.4 million over the next four years to create the new Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network. This will help accelerate the development of the next generation electric, connected and autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies that contribute to a lower environmental and carbon footprint.

Housing

  • $255 million in new provincial funding through the Social Services Relief Fund to support municipal service managers and Indigenous program administrators in immediately responding to rising COVID‐19 caseloads in shelter settings.
  • Ontario is committed to working with the Federal Government to accelerate the Canada‐Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) and will continue to seek additional federal funding to assist a greater number of vulnerable individuals access more affordable.

Infrastructure

  • On January 25, 2021 the Province announced a $200 million investment in municipalities through the 2021 Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) to help 424 communities build and repair roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure.
    • Ontario is building upon this investment by continuing to provide up to $200 million annually for OCIF to help eligible communities attract jobs and investment, as well as build local capacity to grow and thrive. This annual municipal investment provided through OCIF for local infrastructure in communities across Ontario will contribute to the province’s economic recovery and growth this year and in the years to come.
  • Ontario is investing around $200 million to provide infrastructure funding to larger, strategic projects and to sports facilities through the newly established Strategic Priorities and Infrastructure Fund.

Jobs

  • Ontario is providing a second round of Ontario Small Business Support Grant payments to eligible recipients. Approximately 120,000 small businesses will automatically benefit from an additional $1.7 billion in relief through this second round of support in the form of grants of a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 — bringing the estimated total support provided through this grant to $3.4 billion.
  • To support Ontario’s tourism, hospitality and culture industries that have been among the most heavily impacted by the COVID‐19 pandemic, Ontario is investing an additional $400 million over the next three years in new initiatives to support these sectors.
  • Ontario continues to support workers hardest hit by the COVID‐19 pandemic by investing an additional $614.3 million during 2020–21 and 2021–22 to provide targeted employment and training supports.

Municipal-Provincial Partnership

  • The Provincial Government is reviewing the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund in consultation with municipalities, to ensure the program meets the needs of local communities, particularly small, Northern and rural municipalities. Discussions with municipal partners will continue, understanding that stability remains an important priority for municipalities.
  • The Provincial Government is providing almost $1 billion in additional financial relief in 2021 to help preserve vital public services and support economic recovery. This builds on the $4 billion in federal–provincial support provided to communities across the province under the historic Safe Restart Agreement.
  • $500 million in additional provincial funding to support municipal operating pressures and recovery in 2021.

Post Secondary Education

  • In 2021–22, the Provincial Government will be providing base operating grant funding of $3.6 billion to Ontario’s 21 publicly funded universities and $1.4 billion to Ontario’s 24 publicly funded colleges. These funds will be used for general operating expenses, including program delivery, student services and staffing.
  • To help address the financial challenges related to COVID‐19 and support Ontario students, the Provincial Government is providing an additional $106.4 million in 2020–21 to postsecondary institutions. This funding will support postsecondary institutions with the greatest financial need and could be used in key areas experiencing pressures related to COVID‐19, including program delivery and student financial aid.
  • Ontario will continue to support postsecondary institutions by investing $90 million over three years to help colleges and universities renew and purchase modern, state‐of‐the‐art equipment. In addition, Ontario is also establishing a new training equipment renewal fund for universities. This funding will help students to obtain the skills they need for the in‐demand jobs of today and tomorrow.
  • Ontario is also investing $493 million in capital funding over three years, starting in 2021–22 to help colleges and universities across Ontario address the ongoing need for the maintenance, renovation and modernization of their facilities.
  • To help expand access to high‐quality, in demand, globally competitive virtual education, the Provincial Government announced the investment of $50 million in a new Virtual Learning Strategy in December 2020. To support its implementation, Ontario will be providing an additional $21.4 million over two years, beginning in 2021–22.

Reducing Red Tape

  • Ontario will improve businesses’ interactions with government by providing opportunities for immediate feedback, automating and digitizing government operations for 24/7 responsiveness, and delivering customer‐focused services by expediting self‐registration and self‐reporting.

Taxes

  • Ontario is implementing a further postponement of the property tax reassessment. This will provide certainty for businesses and residents, and it will enable municipalities to focus their attention on responding to the challenges posed by COVID‐19.
    • This delay will not have a financial impact on municipalities, as MPAC will continue to maintain the assessment roll and ensure that it is updated to reflect changes such as new construction.
    • Through the Property Assessment and Taxation Review, the Provincial Government will be seeking input from municipalities, taxpayers and interested stakeholders regarding the timing and valuation date for the next reassessment. The outcomes from this consultation will be communicated in fall 2021.
  • The government is introducing the proposed Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit. This would be a temporary, refundable Personal Income Tax credit that would deliver support for 2021. The credit would provide up to $2,000 in relief for 50 per cent of eligible expenses.
  • To encourage business investment in certain regions of the province (outside of the GTA) that have lagged in employment growth in the past, Ontario is proposing to temporarily enhance the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit by investing an additional $61 million, resulting in total tax credit support of about $155 million by 2022–23.

Transportation

  • Ontario has allocated more than $21 billion in funding over the next 10 years, including about $2.6 billion in 2021–22, to expand and repair highways and bridges.
    • The GO Rail Expansion program to provide two‐way, all‐day service every 15 minutes over core segments of the network, and nearly double annual ridership by 2055.
  • Ontario is investing in infrastructure works to enable service expansion along the corridor from Georgetown to Kitchener, including additional tracks and new platforms. Procurement work for phase one is underway and construction is estimated to begin in fall 2021. Procurement of subsequent phases is expected to take place between 2021 and 2023.
  • $150 million in additional provincial funding to support municipal transit systems in 2021, including expanded eligibility for municipal–provincial priorities such as fare and service integration and on‐demand microtransit.

Other

  • To help implement Protecting People and Property: Ontario’s Flooding Strategy, the government is moving forward with a range of activities, such as improving floodplain mapping guidance and establishing a flood‐mapping technical team to better identify hazard areas.
  • Ontario joins other provinces in calling for additional improvements to the federal government’s Fiscal Stabilization program that are needed to address significant annual declines in provincial revenues due to extraordinary economic circumstances brought about as a result of the COVID‐19 pandemic.

*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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Email:  mayor@burlington.ca

Media Specialist: John Bkila
john.bkila@burlington.ca
905-335-7600