Ontario Taking a Balanced Path to Achieve a Balanced Budget by 2017–18 In Fair, Fiscally Responsible Manner : Finance Minister Charles Sousa
November 17, 2014 1:23 P.M.
Source – Ministry of Finance
Ontario is moving forward with its economic plan to grow the economy and create jobs. The government is committed to balancing the budget by 2017-18, and will do so in a way that is both fiscally responsible and fair.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa presented the 2014 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, which confirms that the Province is working to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18. The government continues to project deficits of $12.5 billion in 2014-15, $8.9 billion in 2015-16 and $5.3 billion in 2016-17, with a return to balance in 2017-18, consistent with the plan outlined in the 2014 Budget. This will improve the fiscal sustainability of the Province and help protect the critical public services that support the well-being of Ontarians.
Although the global economic environment remains challenging, there are signs that Ontario’s economic expansion is gaining some momentum in 2014, following weak growth in 2013. The unemployment rate in Ontario declined to 6.5 per cent in October 2014, the lowest rate since 2008.
Even though the current revenue outlook is lower than projected in the 2014 Budget, the government is working to meet its fiscal targets. As part of its plan to help grow the economy, strengthen revenue integrity and create jobs, the government continues to invest in people’s skills and talents; build modern infrastructure and transportation networks; create a supportive and dynamic business climate; and strengthen retirement income security for all Ontarians. Highlights of the four-point economic plan include:
Investing in Ontarians’ Talent and Skills
One of Ontario’s greatest strengths is its people’s talents and skills. Highlights of the government’s investments in people include:
· Completing the rollout of full-day kindergarten and investing in child care modernization so that every child has the best start in life.
· Awarding more than 2,200 Parents Reaching Out Grants during the 2014-15 school year to help school councils identify local barriers to parent engagement and find solutions to get more parents involved in their children’s education at home and school, particularly in math.
· Launching Experience Ontario, a nine-month paid community work and service program that allows high school graduates to gain valuable work experience before they enroll in postsecondary education or choose their career path. This program will roll out in 2015.
· Providing the 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant, which helped over 230,000 students start college or university last year.
· Extending the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy, giving more young people the chance to gain a foothold in the job market. This strategy is on track to create 30,000 job opportunities, including more than 23,000 placements to date under the Youth Employment Fund.
Building Modern Infrastructure and Transportation Networks
Ontario must build and maintain infrastructure to remain economically strong and competitive. That is why Ontario is planning to invest more than $130 billion in public infrastructure over the next 10 years, including $12.8 billion in 2014-15. These investments will focus on transportation, health care and education, and are expected to support over 110,000 jobs on average each year. This commitment builds on nearly $100 billion in infrastructure investments by the Province since 2003, which have helped make Ontario safer, more competitive and more productive.
Highlights of the plan include:
· Making nearly $29 billion in dedicated funding available over the next 10 years for public transit, highways and other priority infrastructure projects across the province through the government’s Moving Ontario Forward plan. Moving Ontario Forward will allocate up to $15 billion for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area in public transit priorities that address congestion and improve mobility throughout the region, including transforming the GO Transit network to a Regional Express Rail service, and nearly $14 billion for projects elsewhere in Ontario that enhance economic growth and address critical infrastructure needs.
· Building better places to learn, with plans to provide funding of more than $11 billion over the next 10 years for elementary and secondary education infrastructure.
· Increasing access to postsecondary institutions, by continuing to expand the Province’s postsecondary education infrastructure in areas where student demand is strong and where there are gaps in access.
· Investing in modern health facilities, with plans to invest over $11.4 billion in hospital capital grants over the next 10 years to provide adequate infrastructure capacity in the health care sector. Across Ontario, more than 40 major hospital projects are under construction or in various stages of planning.