Ontario Deficit Elimination Over Four Years Away

The Doug Ford Provincial Government is saying it won't balance the budget in its mandate.

Released today, the budget estimates the current deficit at $11.7-billion, and the Tories don't expect to clear the red ink until 2023-2024.

Over the next three years the overall budget for government programs will rise by 0.8%, compared to the 3.3% in growth that the previous Liberals had planned.

HEALTHCARE
The Ford government points to increased spending on new hospitals and hospital upgrades, along with a dental plan for low-income seniors as successes on the healthcare file.

The Ministry's overall budget is going up by $1.4 billion. It includes an extra $384 million to be spent on hospitals to add more capacity to treat patients and make it easier to access specialized treatment. The government says its a step toward "ending hallway healthcare.'"

The budget also includes $267-million for improving nursing and home care services, along with therapy and in-home personal support.

There will also be a focus on expanding community support services, like meal delivery and transportation.

The goal is to bolster the affordable care available in the home so that patients don't have to be admitted to the hospital.

 

MORE FREEDOM ON ALCOHOL
The Ford government plans to double down on its deregulation of alcohol sales and consumption.

Policies that will allow tailgating and sales of beer and wine in corner and big-box stores have already been revealed but the budget lays out a plan that will give cities the power to set rules on drinking alcohol in public.

Municipalities will also be allowed to give restaurants and bars permission to serve alcohol as early as 9am.

 

LEGALIZING ONLINE GAMBLING
The provincial government wants to lift a ban on betting on a single sporting event. The Finance Ministry believes people in Ontario spend $500-million each year on online gambling and that most of that most  goes to illegal websites.

The province has asked the Federal government to change the criminal code to allow single-game betting.

 

CHILD CARE TAX CREDIT
Families with incomes of up to $150,000 will receive child-care support in the form of a new tax credit.

The program outlined by the Ford government provides about 300,000 families with up to 75% of their eligible child care expenses. That includes enrolling kids in camps, daycare centres, and homes.

The province will spend up to $1-billion over the next five years to create up to 30,000 child care spaces, including 10,000 in new schools.

The Finance Minister say it'll help make it easier for families to find more affordable care.

 

TAX CUTS FOR BUSINESSES
There's a promise in the budget to provide businesses in Ontario with $3.8-billion worth of corporate income tax relief over the next six years by allowing companies to more quickly write off the purchase of new machines.

 

NEW LICENSE PLATES & DRIVERS LICENSES
The Transportation Ministry will start printing license plates that are white-on-blue, instead of blue-on-white.

As has already been reported, the slogan appearing below the tag number will change from 'Yours To Discover' to 'A Place To Grow.'  The crown remains on the plate, but it now appears in the bottom right corner, rather than in the centre. It has been replaced by the new Ontario trillium logo.

The typeface used to print the alpha-numeric registration marker will be changed to a more modern and streamlined font. The letters and numbers are no longer 'stamped' but are instead printed onto the plate.

A  government official says this change should prevent the new plates from delaminating like they did through the old design.

 

AUTO INSURANCE
Motorists may soon be able to show proof of insurance electronically.

The government says it will introduce legislation to make auto insurance simpler, including electronic means of communication.

It says insurance forms, policies and other documents will also be simplified so drivers can make informed decisions more easily.

The province is also reverting back to the default benefit of $2-million for those who are catastrophically injured in a collision, after it dropped to $1-million three years ago.

— With files from Newstalk 1010's James Moore & The Canadian Press