What to expect from Ontario’s 2020 budget

Ontario budget The Ford government will drop the new Ontario budget Thursday

Updated: Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 2:20 p.m.

The Ontario government will be releasing its 2020 Budget Thursday, providing a three-year plan that will focus on health care, support during the pandemic, and economic recovery.

“The next phase of Ontario’s Action Plan will make available every necessary resource to continue to protect people’s health during the second wave of COVID-19 and beyond,” promised Finance Minister Rod Phillips last week. “It will also expand the support our government has provided to those still facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, including families, workers, vulnerable people, seniors, and employers.”

Rod Phillips said the plan will have three pillars – protect, support, and recover. The first of those, he said, is to protect the health, safety, and well-being of Ontarians “making good on Premier Ford’s commitment to do whatever it takes to get through the pandemic.”

Yesterday, the government previewed one of the actions to increase direct care for long-term residents to four hours per person from the current 2.5 hours. See related story.

He elaborated further that the budget plan will build on the province’s initial response to COVID-19, including the $7.7 billion invested into healthcare already to improve testing, build hospital beds, protect long-term care residents, and purchase PPE.

The second pillar for the budget plan is support, beginning with the government making $300 million available to support businesses impacted by Stage Two restrictions and in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown under the new COVID-19 response framework, going forward.

Beginning on Nov. 16, eligible businesses, including restaurants, bars, gyms and cinemas, will be able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates for the period of time in which these businesses are temporarily required to close or reduce services due to public health restrictions.

Businesses can apply for these rebates through an online application portal and will receive payments within a few weeks after submitting the application process. More information about the rebate program and application process can be found here.

“We know COVID-19 has brought severe challenges and economic difficulties to families and employers. Supporting businesses affected by necessary public health restrictions in regions experiencing a greater risk from COVID-19 is one way we are helping employers manage during these difficult times,” said Minister Phillips.

The third pillar for the budget plan is recover and includes Ontario’s investment of close to $1 billion over six years to improve and expand internet and cellular access and fund broadband-related projects across the province, particularly in rural, remote and northern communities.

“Though initiatives like this our government is laying the foundation for a strong economic recovery and a successful future,” said Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips.

The multi-year budget was scheduled to be released in March, but the province chose to delay the release due to uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. Instead, the government released a one-year economic and fiscal update, Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, which made $30 billion available to support Ontarians during the pandemic. The new budget will build on the initiatives already put in place through the action plan.

More information about the 2020 Budget will be released in upcoming days.