Province Introduces a Balanced Budget and Free Prescription Drugs for Children and Youth

L-R: MPPs Yvan Baker, Dipika Damerla, Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Laura Albanese, Amrit Mangat and Cristina Martins present Ontario 2017 Budget to members of ethnic media on April 28

office of Yvan Baker, MPP for Etobicoke Centre.

On April 13, Finance Minister Charles Sousa released the 2017 Ontario Budget: A Stronger, Healthier Ontario. The 2017 Budget is Ontario’s first balanced budget since the global recession.

The 2017 Ontario Budget contains initiatives that will create jobs, strengthen health care, invest in education, build infrastructure and make housing more affordable for the residents of Etobicoke Centre and all Ontarians.

Yvan is proud to have played a leading role in balancing Ontario’s budget. He reviewed all programs across the government to find efficiencies and deliver better value for money, while ensuring that we continue to support the services that Ontarians rely on like health care and education. He worked with the Treasury Board to save the province $500 million per year by going line-by-line, through every ministry’s budget, looking at every program and service the government delivers and assessing whether they are still relevant, effective, efficient and sustainable. Yvan also worked with Finance Minister Charles Sousa to return the budget to balance this year and for the next three years.

As MPP for Etobicoke Centre, Yvan met one-on-one with Minister Sousa to advocate for initiatives that would benefit our community, some of which are outlined below.

As Parliamentary Assistant to Minister Sousa, Yvan led pre-budget consultations across the province to hear directly from Ontarians what they wanted to see in the budget.

Ontario is focusing on creating jobs by:

  • Supporting job creation in communities across Ontario through investments in infrastructure and sectors of our economy driven by innovative, high growth, and export-oriented businesses
  • Launching Career Kick-Start, a $190 million initiative to create 40,000 work related learning opportunities for students and recent graduates with employers

Ontario is expanding our health care system by:

  • Investing $11.5 billion over three years in health care, a $7 billion increase from last year’s budget
  • Launching universal drug coverage for everyone aged 24 and under, starting Jan. 1, 2018
  • Spending an additional $1.3 billion to reduce wait times for specialized care providers and key services like foot, knee, hip and cataract surgeries
  • Increasing operating funding for public hospitals by $518 million
  • Providing $250 million more to improve home and community care, including a new Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit
  • Launching a $100 million, three year Dementia Strategy for Ontario
  • Increasing supports for seniors by spending an additional $58 million for long term care, $20 million for respite care and introducing a new public transit tax credit for 65,000 seniors

Ontario is improving our education system by:

  • Investing $6.4 billion in education over three years to help students succeed today and in the years to come
  • Reducing class sizes to enhance the learning experience for all students by providing funding to help ensure that all school boards move to an average class size of 25 students for Grades 4-8
  • Starting Sept. 2017, making average tuition free for 210,000 students and providing more grants and loans for post-secondary programs to all students—including mature learners
  • Easing rules for student debt repayment by increasing the minimum salary requirement from $25,000 to $35,000 for recent graduates before they must begin to repay the provincial portion of OSAP loans

Ontario is building infrastructure by:

  • Investing more than $190 billion in public infrastructure over 13 years, the largest infrastructure plan in Ontario’s history, building schools, hospitals, roads and transit, creating 120,000 jobs per year. These investments include:
  1. $56 billion for public transit, which will fund rapid transit projects in Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Hamilton, Waterloo and Ottawa and transform the GO rail system through the GO Regional Express Rail (GO RER) initiative
  2. $26 billion for highways, building or repairing about 5,000 kilometers of highways and more than 750 bridges across the province
  3. $9 billion to build new hospitals across Ontario to deal with high population growth and address the needs of an aging province
  4. $16 billion to build new schools in areas of high growth and improve the condition of existing schools, including $1.2 billion for school renewal and repairs

Ontario is making housing more affordable for homebuyers and renters by:

  • Introducing a new non-resident speculation tax of 15 per cent on the price of homes in the Greater Golden Horseshoe purchased by non-Canadian citizens, non-permanent residents and non-Canadian corporations
  • Expanding rent control to all private rental units, including those occupied on or after November 1, 1991
  • Giving all municipalities, including Toronto, the ability to levy a vacant home property tax

I am so proud to have worked with Minister Sousa to balance the budget. I am also proud that we have balanced the budget—and not just because I believe it is our responsibility to spend your tax dollars wisely. A balanced budget lays the foundation for us to invest in what matters to our community: Jobs, health care, education, infrastructure and housing.

Yvan Baker, MPP for Etobicoke Centre and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance

A balanced budget is more than just the bottom line number. It’s about finding new ways to help you and your family. It’s about creating opportunities and providing the supports people need to succeed. This balanced budget is dedicated to providing young people with free prescription medications, providing free tuition and helping businesses grow. We are delivering on our commitment to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities for success.

Hon. Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance