Today, the government released the 2021-22 Third Quarter Finances, which provide an update on Ontario’s 2021-22 economic and fiscal outlook since the release of the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario (also referred to as the Fall Economic Statement). The report shows $2.3 billion of new investments in response to the Omicron variant, including additional funding to support hospitals, workers and business supports such as the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program and the Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant.
Primarily as a result of higher than forecast revenues reflecting improved economic performance, Ontario is now projecting a deficit of $13.1 billion in 2021-22 – an improvement of $8.4 billion from the deficit forecast in the Fall Economic Statement. Despite ongoing uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, the government’s swift actions and critical investments to protect the economy have been successful and Ontario’s economy remains resilient.
“We have made important progress in our fight against COVID-19 through record investments to protect people’s health and support our economy, and while today’s report demonstrates that Ontario’s economy is getting stronger, there is still work ahead,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “Our government’s plan for recovery will build Ontario with investments in new highways and hospitals, supports for workers and employers, and measures to put more money into the pockets of families and seniors.”
As of the 2021-22 Third Quarter Finances, the Province is investing an additional $2.3 billion, primarily in health care and supports to business and workers, offset from existing contingencies, relative to the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review. Highlights include:
- $1.3 billion in additional funding to support hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, including expenses such as personal protective equipment, additional staff and Infection Prevention and Control measures, as well as funding to support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
- $300 million for the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program to provide property tax and energy cost rebates to eligible businesses that were required to close or reduce indoor capacity as part of the additional public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.
- $293 million for the Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant to support small businesses that were subject to closures as part of the additional public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.
- $164 million to help long-term care homes prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19, including increased staffing supports and purchasing additional protective equipment supplies.
- $108 million to train up to 8,200 new personal support workers (PSWs) for high-demand jobs in Ontario’s health and long-term care sectors to address the personal support workforce shortage.
- $75 million in additional funding to support further electricity cost relief for eligible residential, farm and small business customers for the period January 18, 2022 to February 7, 2022.
With a balance of $500 million remaining in the Time-Limited COVID-19 Fund for the remainder of the fiscal year, the Province continues to maintain the prudence and flexibility necessary to respond to future needs in the fight against the pandemic.
The government’s actions throughout the pandemic have ensured that Ontario’s economy remains poised to keep growing over the medium-to-long-term. The government’s plan to build Ontario will leverage this strength to make key investments that will make life more affordable for the people of Ontario, while supporting job-creation, productivity and economic growth.
From the very beginning, the government has been accountable to Ontario taxpayers by providing regular updates on the Province’s finances. This is the government’s eighth financial update since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The government remains committed to defeating the COVID-19 virus and will provide its next financial update as part of the 2022 Budget.
- With the release of the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario, the Time-Limited COVID-19 Fund had a $2.7 billion allocation to respond to the ongoing uncertainty related to the pandemic and the future pace of economic recovery.
- The Fiscal Sustainability, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2019 requires Ontario’s fiscal plan to incorporate prudence in the form of a reserve to protect the fiscal outlook against unforeseen changes in the Province’s outlook, including those resulting from changes in Ontario’s economic performance.