Ontario is moving forward with its plan to build opportunity and security for today and tomorrow. The 2014 Ontario Budget, tabled today by Minister of Finance Charles Sousa, takes immediate action to create jobs by investing in a highly skilled workforce, building modern infrastructure and transportation networks, and supporting a dynamic and innovative business climate.
The Budget also takes steps to build the retirement security workers deserve, an initiative that supports long-term economic growth. The government will continue managing spending responsibly and eliminate the deficit by 2017-18. As laid out in Budget 2014, to achieve its fiscal targets while creating more opportunity and more security for people in every region, the government will manage spending carefully while making strategic investments that build on the competitive advantages of Ontario's people and businesses.
Building on People's Talents and Skills
Despite a challenging global economic environment, Ontario continues to attract investments that are creating jobs, growing the economy, and expanding opportunity for workers today and tomorrow. Ontario's talented workforce is its greatest asset in attracting investment and sustaining economic growth. The Budget builds on the strength of Ontario's people by:
- Completing the rollout of Full-Day Kindergarten this fall and investing in child care modernization and stabilization, so that every child in Ontario has the best possible start in life.
- Investing in classroom technology to ensure that young learners are equipped to lead in the 21st century economy.
- Providing the 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant to make sure up to 260,000 young people can afford to get the degree or diploma that will lead to more opportunity.
- Extending the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy to give more young people the chance to gain a foothold in the job market. As part of this strategy, the Youth Employment Fund has already helped more than 16,500 young people gain work experience and find jobs since September 2013.
Building Modern Infrastructure and Transportation Networks
Ontario's public infrastructure -- our roads, bridges, transit systems, hospitals, and schools -- help make the province one of the best places in the world to live, work and invest. To build on Ontario's infrastructure advantage, Budget 2014 invests more than $130 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years. This investment will create jobs right away, improve Ontario's productivity and support the jobs and growth of tomorrow. It includes:
- New dedicated funds that would make nearly $29 billion available over the next 10 years to build a seamless and province-wide transportation network by investing in highways, public transit, roads and bridges. The funds would be fairly and transparently divided by population, so that the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) would receive $15 billion and other regions of Ontario would receive nearly $14 billion.
- A commitment of $1 billion to develop strategic transportation infrastructure in the Ring of Fire and unlock the North's economic growth and jobs potential.
- An investment of more than $11 billion in modernizing elementary and secondary schools over the next 10 years.
- More than $11.4 billion in major hospital expansion and redevelopment projects over the next 10 years.
- New or expanded post-secondary campuses to ensure there are as many college and university spaces in Ontario as there are ambitious and talented young people.
Building a Supportive and Dynamic Business Environment
Ontario's diversified economy is sustained by infrastructure that moves people and goods efficiently, a highly skilled workforce that growing businesses seek, and an internationally competitive and predictable corporate tax rate. To build on the strength of Ontario's dynamic and innovative business climate, Budget 2014 invests in strategic partnerships that produce enduring economic benefits for businesses, communities and people. It includes:
- A focus on local and international partnerships, including global trade missions, to increase exports and attract new investments.
- A heightened focus on strategic and job-creating partnerships with business, supported by the 10-year $2.5 billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund.Through this fund, Ontario's traditional and emerging industries will win what has become an international competition for new investments, and communities in every region will benefit.
Building Retirement Security
The Province will create the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan to help working families build a more secure retirement. When combined with CPP payments, it will help provide the comfortable retirement they deserve. The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan will:
- Provide a predictable stream of income, indexed to inflation, and paid for life in retirement.
- Be mandatory for the more than 3 million Ontarians without a workplace pension plan and will require fair and equal contributions from employees and employers.
- Operate at arms-length from government, with implementation led by former CEO of OMERS Michael Nobrega.
- Return long-term economic benefits to Ontario when payouts help people maintain their standard of living in retirement and continue spending.
- Be developed in consultation with pension experts, provinces, business and labour, in order to ensure that a broad range of perspectives is heard.
Building Opportunities and a Fair Ontario
The government understands that Ontario's success depends on the success of all people. Budget 2014 builds a fairer Ontario that further supports economic growth through measures that include:
- Continuing to reform the social assistance system, which will improve income supports and reduce barriers to entering the workforce.
- Proposing legislation to index the minimum wage to inflation to help ensure that workers receive a decent wage, after having raised it to $11.00 per hour as of June 1, 2014.
- 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 homecare 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 children reach their full potential.
Building Towards Fiscal Balance
The government will eliminate the deficit by 2017-18. Budget 2014 lays out the path by responsibly managing spending and investing strategically in new growth. With the help of the new President of the Treasury Board, who will champion transparency, efficiency and accountability across government, Ontario will meet its target for a balanced budget and move towards pre-recession debt-to-GDP levels. Budget 2014 measures include:
- Extracting more value from the province's assets, with an Advisory Council led by retiring Group President and CEO of TD Bank Group Ed Clark.
- Continuing to lead the leanest program spending government in the country.
- Continuing to manage spending in a way that has resulted in lower-than-forecast program expense in each of the last five years.
- Strategically investing in people, infrastructure and business partnerships to create growth today and tomorrow.
- Proposing to increase personal income tax for the highest two per cent of tax filers in Ontario, with 98 per cent of tax filers seeing no changes.
Building a Stronger Canada
As a net financial contributor to confederation, Ontario expects fair fiscal treatment from the federal government. But major federal transfers to Ontario this year are $641 million less, which independent experts and even Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer have identified as unfair treatment. Ontario will continue to insist on fair fiscal transfers from the federal government and seek federal partnership on matters of national and provincial interest. Ontario's Budget 2014 takes actions that are in both the national and provincial interest, which include:
- Unlocking the resource potential in the Ring of Fire.
- Enhancing and securing the retirement savings of Ontarians.
- Building the roads and public transit systems our economy needs to continue growing.
The 2014 Ontario Budget lays out a comprehensive plan for a strong Ontario, with more jobs, more opportunity and a more secure future. It will build Ontario up with opportunities right now and security for our future.