(TORONTO, ON) – The government is moving forward with a 10-year plan for the economy focused on investing in people, building modern infrastructure, and supporting a dynamic and innovative business climate. These actions will build opportunity and security, and put the province’s businesses and people in a position to create new jobs today.
The government will continue to manage growth in spending and will balance the budget by 2017-18, while making strategic investments in key public services and to help grow the economy.
“This Budget looks not only at the days ahead but at the next decade,” said Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance. “We will make strategic investments to grow the economy and create jobs and balance the budget by 2017-18. We are introducing a new jobs fund to attract new investments to Ontario, a new pensions plan to provide Ontarians with a more secure retirement, and building transit and transportation infrastructure for our province to become even more productive and competitive.”
Despite a challenging global economic environment, the economy continues to grow and create jobs, providing Ontarians with opportunities today and to move into new careers and higher-paying jobs. The next steps the government will take include:
- Establishing a new 10-year, $2.5 billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund that will improve Ontario’s ability to attract significant business investments, strengthen Ontario’s strategic sectors and support the province’s future economic growth.
- Investing $295 million over two years for the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy, which gives young people the opportunity to gain a foothold in the job market. Since September 2013, it has already helped over 10,000 young people gain work experience and find jobs.
- Expanding the reach of Ontario’s exports to fast-growing emerging markets to help many small and medium-sized businesses grow and create jobs.
- Providing new and expanded programs to help manage electricity costs for businesses. These include discounts for large, growing businesses and a tailored conservation program that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs ease their energy bills.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Ontario’s investments have helped make the Province one of the best places in the world to live, work and invest. Since 2003, Ontario has invested nearly $100 billion in hospitals, schools and transportation infrastructure, supporting an average of 100,000 jobs each year in construction and related industries.
The Province’s projected population growth will result in significant demand for all types of infrastructure. To meet this challenge, the 10-year plan proposes over $130 billion in infrastructure investments to create jobs now, spur productivity and help the province grow and prosper, including:
- Dedicating funding to make nearly $29 billion available over the next 10 years for transportation infrastructure, public transit and other priority infrastructure projects — $15 billion for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and nearly $14 billion for outside the GTHA.
- Providing more than $11 billion over the next 10 years for elementary and secondary education infrastructure.
- Planning to invest over $11.4 billion in major hospital expansion and redevelopment projects over the next 10 years. This is in addition to almost $700 million over the next 10 years to address deferred maintenance in hospitals.
Securing Ontarians’ Retirement
Studies have shown that Canadians, especially those in the middle class, are not saving enough and need more money for their retirement. To help Ontarians be more secure in their retirement, the government is proposing a new mandatory provincial pension plan — the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan — that would be cost-effective, responsible and help Ontario workers build a more secure retirement future.
The plan would build on the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and expand pension coverage initially to more than three million working Ontarians who currently rely on the CPP, Old Age Security and their own savings for retirement income.
Creating Opportunities and a Fair Ontario
The government is focused on investing in people today to provide fairness and security for all Ontarians. The 2014 Ontario Budget includes the following measures:
- Continuing to reform the social assistance system, which will improve income supports and reduce barriers to entering the workforce.
- Raising the minimum wage to $11.00 per hour and proposing legislation to index it to inflation to help ensure that workers receive a decent wage.
- Proposing to remove the Debt Retirement Charge cost from residential users’ electricity bills after December 31, 2015, to save a typical residential ratepayer about $70 per year.
- Enhancing supports for adults with developmental disabilities and front-line workers in the community services sector.
- Providing support for wage increases for personal support workers in the publicly funded home and community care sector, and front-line child care workers.
- Increasing the Ontario Child Benefit by proposing to index it to inflation, to help all children reach their full potential.
Responsible Fiscal Management
The Province’s deficit for 2013-14 is now estimated to be $11.3 billion — a $0.4 billion improvement compared with the 2013 Budget forecast. This will mark the fifth year in a row that the Province will report a deficit lower than forecast.