Everything You Need to Know About Doug Ford's First Budget
After months of speculation about what was going to be cut, with apocalyptic visions of Doug Ford wielding a chainsaw to who knows what, Ontario's self anointed "Government for the People," has delivered the first budget since the Progressive Conservatives were elected last June.
Suffice it to say, the slash and burn was not as extensive as many would have thought, which may leave many deficit hawks and those wanting more fiscal prudence disappointed.
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli delivered the Ford government's first budget at 4:00 pm on Thursday, April 11 in the Legislative Assembly. Surprisingly, the budget contains a litany of spending items as well as familiar lines on previous announcements about 'fighting the (federal) carbon tax' and inheriting a $15 billion deficit from the previous Liberal government.
Here are the highlighted spending items from the 2019 Ontario Budget.
The deficit will be $11.7 billion for fiscal year 2018-19, which Fedeli says is $3.3 billion less from the $15 billion deficit left by the Liberals. The Tories say they will balance the budget by 2023-24, just after the next provincial election.
A new child care tax credit will be created, called the Ontario Child Care Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE), which will provide would provide some 300,000 families up to 75 per cent of their eligible child care expenses.
$1 billion dollars over the next five years to create up to 30,000 child care spaces in schools, including approximately 10,000 spaces in new schools.
An additional $384 million in hospitals and an additional $267 million in home and community care to 'end hallway healthcare'.
$3.8 billion for mental health, addictions and housing supports over 10 years, beginning with the creation of a mental health and addictions system.
A new dental program for low income seniors with annual incomes of $19,300 or less and couples with less than $32,000.
Creating 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years and upgrading 15,000 older long-term care beds to provide more appropriate care to patients with complex health conditions.
Making it easier to buy auto insurance such as giving drivers more choice when deciding which auto insurance coverage suits their needs and gives them more control over their rates. The government is also returning the default benefit limit of $2 million for those who are catastrophically injured in an accident, after it was previously reduced to $1 million in 2016.
As of January 1, 2020, the Estate Administration Tax would be eliminated for taxable estates with assets of $50,000 or less, and would be reduced by $250 for larger taxable estates.
On the surface, more partisan fiscal conservatives would look at this budget and wonder if this was actually written by Liberals. Looking deeper into the numbers, there are some reductions in spending in various ministerial departments:
The budget for Social Services is going down by $367 million.
The Ministry of the Environment's budget will go from $983 million to $631 million.
The Indigenous Affairs budget will go from $146 million to $74.4 million
Spending on OSAP reduced from $2 billion to $1.4 billion.
Then there are the baubles (or shiny objects that get your attention) about that one thing that seemingly unites us all: booze. The following changes are expected to be in place by this summer:
A tailgating permit for eligible sporting events that would allow fans to participate in legal tailgating parties similar to many U.S states.
Allowing municipalities to write bylaws allowing the legal consumption of alcohol in public places such as parks.
Extending hours for restaurants, bars and golf courses to serve alcohol, starting at 9 am seven days a week.
Changing advertising rules so places can advertise "happy hour" in Ontario, similar to British Columbia and Alberta.
Coupling all this with the already made announcement of some $28 billion spending on building new subway lines to Richmond Hill, Scarborough and downtown Toronto, virtually no mention of cuts to health care and education but no new tax increases, it seems that the image of Doug Ford the cutting machine has been somewhat replaced by a more placid Ford doing only a little trimming here and there.
One thing is for sure, the era of Premier Dad is definitely over with the announced changes for alcohol consumption. The previous Liberal government under Dalton McGuinty, then Kathleen Wynne, was notorious for introducing a lot of measures aimed at curbing and regulating social behaviour; it seems that Ford is letting adults be adults again.
To read up on all the Tory government's spending items in its entirety, click here.
What do you think of Doug Ford's first budget as Premier?
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