Ontario Budget – Delivering a Plan for Care and Opportunity in Niagara Region

Ontario Continuing to Invest in Health Care, Child Care and Transit

“Whether it’s providing free child care, making prescription drugs free for everyone 65 and over through OHIP+, or expanding GO rail transit to Niagara, our government understands the needs of our community and is willing to make investments that will help more families get ahead.” Jim Bradley, MPP, St. Catharines

St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley

A News Release from the Constituency Office of St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley

Posted March 29th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – This past Wednesday, March 28th, the government released the 2018 Budget, which includes significant new investments in health care, child care, home care, and transit, along with new measures to create more job opportunities for people across the Niagara Region.

If passed, the 2018 Budget would expand OHIP+ with free prescription drugs for everyone 65 and over, improve mental health care and addictions services, and introduce free preschool child care for children aged two-and-a-half until eligible for kindergarten.

Ontario is also planning to bring new weekday GO rail service between the future Confederation GO Station in Hamilton and the Niagara Region starting in 2021, with service to Niagara Falls by 2023, as well as upgraded VIA rail stations in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls. This extension will support economic development and increase travel options for people in Niagara Region.

Investing in Care

Ontario is helping ease the mounting pressure that individuals and families in Niagara are facing and giving them every opportunity to care for their loved ones by:

  •  Introducing the new Seniors’ Healthy Home Program. This recognizes the costs associated with older seniors living at home, where they want to be. It provides a benefit of up to $750 annually for eligible households led by seniors 75 and over to help them live independently and offset the costs of maintaining their homes.
  •  Introducing a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program, reimbursing 80 per cent, up to a maximum of $400 per single person, $600 per couple and $700 for a family of four with two children, of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses each year, for those without workplace health benefits or not covered by OHIP+ or other government programs.
  •  Providing more affordable quality child care by making preschool child care free for children aged two-and-a-half until they are eligible for kindergarten. This saves a family with one child $17,000, on average, and builds on the savings families get from full-day kindergarten. Early learning has been demonstrated to improve children’s academic performance throughout their lives.
  •  Providing better and faster access to mental health and addictions services for hundreds of thousands more children, young people and adults across Ontario — bringing the total funding to more than $17 billion over four years.
  •  Improving hospitals by providing better access to care, reducing wait times, addressing capacity issues and better meeting the needs of Ontario’s growing and aging population through an additional $822-million investment in 2018–19 — the largest single government investment in hospitals in almost a decade. The province is also investing approximately $19 billion over 10 years to build and renovate hospitals to provide more and faster health care for people, including $8.18 million in additional funding to NHS St. Catharines in 2018-2019.
  •  Moving forward on the commitment to invest up to $10 million to create a Centre of Excellence in Health Care Artificial Intelligence through partnerships with St. Joseph’s Health System Hamilton, Niagara Health System, McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences and the Vector Institute on this initiative.
  •  Building a fair society and enhancing choice and independence by investing $1.8 billion to strengthen services for 47,000 adults with developmental disabilities and reforming the social assistance system to focus on people rather than on rules and regulations.

Making Life More Affordable

Families in Niagara are facing mounting pressures — whether at work or in their pocketbook — and it’s having a real impact on people’s lives and our ability to care for our loved ones. Ontario is taking steps to make life more affordable and provide more financial security for residents during a time of rapid economic change:

  •  Making prescriptions completely free for everyone 65 and over through OHIP+, ensuring that no senior citizen ever needs to go without necessary drugs. By eliminating the Ontario Drug Benefit annual deductible and co-pay, this saves the average Ontario senior $240 per year. This expansion of OHIP+ follows the introduction of free prescriptions for everyone under the age of 25 in the 2017 Ontario Budget.
  •  Cutting residential electricity bills as of July 1, 2017, by 25 per cent on average and up to 40 or 50 per cent for low-income families.  
  • Creating Opportunity for People
  • Ontario is helping people adapt to, and thrive in, a changing economy to make sure the Niagara Region remains the best place to live, work and do business. Actions include:
  •  Making college and university tuition free for more than 225,000 students of all ages. Free or low tuition is available for students from low- and middle-income families; tuition is free for those earning up to $90,000 and students from families who earn up to $175,000 are also eligible for financial aid.
  •  Preparing students for good job by providing $132 million over three years to develop postsecondary education programs that respond to the changing needs of students and employers.
  •  Planning to create and retain over 70,000 jobs by renewing and extending the Jobs and Prosperity Fund with an increase of $900 million over the next 10 years.
  •  Providing $935 million in new funding over three years through the Good Jobs and Growth Plan to support Ontario businesses, students and graduates, and help attract good, well-paying jobs.
  •  Creating a new Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Fund, a $10 million commitment over the next 10 years that will fill a critical gap in regional development by investing in and supporting small and medium-sized businesses in the area.
  •  Providing a long-awaited raise for 1.2 million people across Ontario by increasing the minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018 and $15 per hour on January 1, 2019.

The province has beaten its fiscal targets every year since the recession, and is forecasting a budget surplus in 2017–18. Beginning in 2018–19, Ontario is choosing to make more investments in the care and services that the people of this province rely on. As a result, the province will run modest deficits of less than one per cent of GDP. The Budget outlines a path back to balance by 2024–25, building on the province’s long track record of responsible fiscal management.

Quote

“Ontario’s economy is getting stronger, businesses are creating record numbers of jobs, and unemployment is at the lowest rate in almost two decades. Our budget is balanced. We have a $600 million surplus. Now, we are using our strengthened fiscal position to make life more affordable for families and create new opportunity for businesses across the province. The 2018 Budget will include new investments in health care, child care and seniors care to help even more people get ahead.” Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance

 “This year’s budget will make everyday life easier and more affordable for people in the Niagara Region. Whether it’s providing free child care, making prescription drugs free for everyone 65 and over through OHIP+, or expanding GO rail transit to Niagara, our government understands the needs of our community and is willing to make investments that will help more families get ahead.” Jim Bradley, MPP, St. Catharines

Quick Facts

  •  Since the recession, Ontario’s economy has gained over 800,000 net new jobs. The unemployment rate has steadily declined to a 17-year low in February 2018, and has remained below the national average for 34 consecutive months.
  •  Since 2014 Ontario’s economy has grown more than Canada’s and all other G7 countries.

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A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

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