Marit Stiles MPP, Davenport

Government of Ontario

Provincial Budget Tabled

Published on March 24, 2021

The provincial budget was tabled on Wednesday. Below is the constituent update that I sent out with the details.

Hello Davenport, 

I’m just coming from the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly, where Doug Ford’s Finance Minister has just tabled his budget. 

This has been such a difficult year for our province, and for people in our community - and it’s not over yet. With more people getting sick every day, we are still in a pandemic. And we are still facing impacts of that pandemic on our health, employment and well-being. This budget could have offered people hope and help; a pathway to a just and green recovery that includes everyone. 

It failed to do that.

The budget shows a government already reaching for cuts when people need help the most - 4.8 Billion worth.

The budget does not add any new supports for long-term care residents, sticking with a timeline that doesn’t add PSWs or achieve four hours of hands-on care for another four years or more. It slashes $790 million from schools, compared to spending during the last year — taking Ontario back to 2019 spending levels, when Ford was trying to cut 10,000 teachers and education workers while hiking class sizes, at a time when our children need more support than ever. Knowing that well over $700 million is necessary to tackle the still-growing surgical backlog, the budget allocates only $300 million.

Missing from the budget are paid sick days, and paid time off for people to get vaccines. Instead of meaningful action to address the childcare crisis we face here in Toronto, the budget provides just a one-time top up to their child care tax credit. And at a time when so many of our neighbours are being pushed into homelessness, the budget makes no mention of poverty. When we should be combating climate change, the government is continuing to override Conservation Authorities to build warehouses on wetlands.

The Opposition has been calling for mobile teams to vaccinate people in their homes who are otherwise unlikely to get their shot – including home care recipients, housebound elderly people, and folks with disabilities. I am pleased to see some increase in funding to support this -  a 3.7 million dollar investment has been committed to help seniors and people with disabilities get their COVID-19 vaccinations, where transportation is a barrier.

Below please find a few highlights from the document, and know that I will be watching very closely to see how this will impact our community and city. I welcome your feedback on what’s in the budget, good and bad, as we will be debating its implementation very soon.

Thanks and take care, 

Marit

--

Budget 2021 Highlights

Here are a few of the announcements included in today’s budget (read the full budget here). Note that the budget is a political document, and more details will be coming in the implementation bill.

Education, Childcare and Post-Secondary

  • The COVID-19 child benefits will be doubled to $400 per child and $500 per child with special needs.

  • One‐time top‐up for CARE tax credit recipients equal to 20 percent of their 2021 credit entitlements.

  • No replenishment of school board reserves, or commitment to extend COVID-19 funding for smaller class sizes, hiring more staff - we expect teacher and other education worker layoffs as a result.

  • School repair funding will remain at 1.4 billion this year, the bare minimum to keep schools operational, while the 16.3 Billion dollar backlog accrued over the last 16 years remains untouched.

  • Tuition freeze in the university sector is continued, with access to OSAP expanded for some students at Indigenous Institutions and those in micro-credit programs.

Small Business

  • Doubling of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant payments to eligible recipients.
    The government says that 120,000 small businesses will receive one additional payment between $10,000-$20,000 and will be automatically entitled to the second payment. Note this does not change the eligibility requirements which have kept a number of businesses from accessing these funds in the first place.

  • No extended tax deferral periods for businesses that were significantly impacted by the second shutdown or small business tax forgiveness

  • No insurance relief for businesses struggling to access P&C insurance due to lack of availability and/or skyrocketing rates

Municipalities & Transit

  • The government’s five priority transit projects in the GTHA remain unfunded. The government said it would cover the federal government’s deemed share, but it has been nearly two years since the priority projects were announced in the 2019-20 budget, and the government has not closed this major funding gap.

  • No new housing announcements were included in the budget, while our city and community face an affordable housing and homelessness crisis. Investments in social housing will continue to decline as federal-provincial agreements expire.

  • The Government is once again postponing the property tax reassessment process. Government will consult with municipalities about when to resume this reassessment process.

Environment and Climate Change

  • After significant cuts in the first year of the Ford government, Environment Ministry funding is flatlined compared to previous years.

  • $3.9 million over three years to enhance the provincial park experience by using technology and free day-use entry to parks Monday to Thursday,  May 1 to September 2 this year.

  • $56.4m over four years for ”Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network” (OVIN) - with details of what the looks like to come.

  • No mention of combating climate change and no line item included for climate-change initiatives.

  • No restoration of Conservation Authorities or walkback of Ministerial Zoning Orders.

Health & Long Term Care

  • There is no commitment to wage increases for underpaid, overworked Personal Support Workers beyond June 30 2021.
  • Despite the many deaths and failure to keep Long Term Care residents safe during the pandemic, the government continues to refuse to reinstate comprehensive Resident Quality Inspections in long-term care.

  •  No commitment to phase out “for profit” LTC homes.

  • As announced previously, there will be an additional $933 million over four years, for a total of $2.6 billion, to support building 30,000 new long‐term care beds.

  • Investing up to $246 million over the next four years to improve living conditions in existing homes, including ensuring homes have air conditioning.

  • $4.9 billion over four years ($500 million in 2021-22) to increase average daily direct care to 4 hours per day,  and hire 27,000 positions including PSWs and Nurses.

  • Some support to accelerate the training of PSWs and nurses for Long Term Care including a training program that is publicly funded, tuition‐free. There are also some new grants coming to attract more PSWs and nurses to Ontario.

  • Accelerated Build Pilot Program - building 4 new LTC homes on hospital owned land in the GTA, through a fast tracked process for procurement and construction. Partnering with Trillium Health Partners, Lakeridge Health and Humber River Hospital for completion by 2022.

Women

  • Creating a task force to advise the government on ways to “address the unique and disproportionate barriers women face, particularly in an economy that will look different after COVID”

  •  $18.2M over three year to address violence against First Nation, Inuit and Metis women and girls.

  • Other than some funding for job training and the increase in the CARE credit, there appears to be no strategy to deal with the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and women in the workforce.

  • Funding to assist survivors of domestic violence is being increased by $2.1M but that funding is over three years, and includes funding for other victims of violent crimes. This doesn’t include the funding Ford cut for victims of crime and support for survivors in his first budgets 

Arts and Culture, Tourism

  • New Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant, which will provide an estimated $100 million in one‐time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses.

  • Just $10 million in additional funding for Ontario’s arts organizations “with support from the Ontario Arts Council, at a time when our local arts orgs are barely getting by and facing an uncertain year ahead.

  • There is nothing in the budget for individual artists or folks working in the gig economy.