Ontario to lay out next phase of COVID-19 response in Thursday's budget

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TORONTO - The Ontario government is expected to lay out the next phase of its COVID-19 response as it presents its first budget since the start of the pandemic on Thursday.

The Progressive Conservative government postponed delivering a full fiscal plan earlier this year, citing the economic uncertainty caused by the global health crisis.

The fiscal update it gave instead in March included $17 billion in COVID-19 relief, a projection that was later revised to $30 billion by the end of 2020-2021.

The province also initially predicted a deficit of $20.5 billion, which was later raised to $38.5 billion in light of the additional spending.

The province has already said Thursday's budget will include details of the new standard for long-term care announced earlier this week, which would see nursing home residents receive an average of four hours of daily direct care.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips has said the fiscal blueprint will provide a multi-year outlook that will build on the measures presented in the spring.