Social programs face $1 billion spending cut in Ontario budget


Ford not only hasn't frozen government spending at what he described during the election as unsustainable levels under the previous Liberal government, which the Liberals announced at $158.5 billion last year, he's increasing it to $163.4 billion this year, $165.6 billion in 2020-21, $168.2 billion in 2021-22, $170.7 billion in 2022-23 and $173.2 billion in 2023-24.

The government doesn't plan to balance the books for another five years, that is something we would have expected from the Wynne Liberals.

You'll also be able to start drinking earlier, and possibly later, at licenced establishments.

Licence plates will also bear a new slogan - "A Place to Grow" - which will replace the current "Yours to Discover".

The opposition parties also questioned why Premier Doug Ford's government was "obsessed" with booze.

"The only new spending can be attributed to different accounting methods between the Tories and their predecessors", she said.

Numerous wallet-friendly initiatives contained in the 2019 Ontario budget had been previously revealed, including a 10 per cent cut to post-secondary tuition and a tax credit for low-income individuals of up to $850.

One new goodie is a child-care tax credit, providing up to $6,000 per child under seven and up to $3,750 per child between seven and 16, on a sliding scale for families earning less than $150,000 annually. Ford's PCs want to ratchet that back to just 1.6 per cent.

Horwath joked that having a licence plate that mirrored Ford party colours might cause a lot of rear-end accidents.

Health spending in Ontario has risen at an annual average of 4.2 per cent over the past three years.

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Although the effort comes through the way of a Private Members Bill, the PC's also plan to remove the ability for insurance companies to hike fees based on postal code, which can result in hundreds in savings every year for users in heavily affected areas. "The government is undermining learning conditions for all students with larger class sizes and insufficient funding for students with special needs, mental health issues and high-risk behaviours". It will tie 60 per cent of a school's funding by 2024-2025 to yet-to-be finalized metrics that will include student skills and job outcomes. The government could not specify what criteria will be used to evaluate performance, saying it will work with institutions to develop them. "These reforms will provide wrap-around supports to help social assistance recipients address barriers and access to employment supports".

For example, when National Observer asked for a breakdown of cuts to justice services such as legal aid, a Ford staffer said that the ministry would have answers, but then failed to provide those answers.

These savings would be a welcome change for many Ontario drivers as auto insurance rates in the province have been among the highest in Canada for almost a decade now.

A press release from the provincial government said it has reduced the deficit by $3.3 billion, going from $15 billion to a "projected" $11.7 billion for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Thus their projected deficits and reserve funds are far more credible than those of the Liberals, which were a joke, and Liberal deficits (or the NDP's) would have been higher had they won the election.

The Tories had pledged to cut the corporate tax rate to 10.5 per cent from 11.5 per cent.

Ontario Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Rocco Rossi said if he had to choose between the two measures he prefers the capital allowance.

"They're giving corporations billions in tax cuts, but it seemed like every second word out of the Finance Minister's mouth was debt or deficit", said Almeida.

As part of the budget legislation, the government has proposed a new accountability framework called the Fiscal Sustainability Transparency and Accounting Act.

The legislation would require the budget to be read by March 31 and would involve a fine of equal to 10 per cent from the salaries of the Premier and Minister of Finance for each missed reporting deadline.


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