Ontario budget report by Steve Clark

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Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark welcomed the provincial budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, calling it a comprehensive $45-billion investment to keep our communities safe and economy strong as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our health-care heroes, essential workers, businesses and everyday citizens have stepped up to meet the unprecedented challenges we’ve faced over the past eight months. We’re honouring our commitment to spare no expense in providing critical investments to support everyone from children to seniors and small businesses, including those in our local tourism sector,” he said after the budget was released at Queen’s Park by Finance Minister Rod Phillips.

“Today’s budget delivers the necessary health resources to continue protecting people along with vital programs and tax measures to support individuals, families and job creators impacted by the virus, while laying the foundation for Ontario’s strong economic recovery,” he added.

Spending under the budget’s three pillars include: $15.2 billion to protect Ontarians through urgent COVID-19 response measures, $13.5 billion to support people and jobs and $4.8 billion to recover by creating the conditions for economic growth. In addition to that $33.4 billion, the budget contains $11.3 billion in measures to improve cash flow for individuals, families and businesses.

“The virus remains a threat. Not only to our health and well-being, but to those families struggling to make ends meet and small busi- nesses that have been hardest hit. We’re investing $45 billion over three years to keep us safe and to help Ontario get back on its feet – and we’re doing it now because we can’t afford to wait,” said MPP Clark.

Highlights of today’s budget include:

Increasing the average daily direct care from a nurse or personal support worker per long-term care resident to four hours per day over a four-year period – making Ontario a leader among Canadian provinces in caring for our seniors.

Helping seniors stay in their homes longer by proposing the new Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit for 2021, which will provide a 25 per cent credit on eligible renovations up to $10,000.

Providing parents with $200 per child under 12 and $250 for children and youth under 21 with special needs through the Support for Learners initiative.

Attracting investment by lowering electricity rates to save medium-sized and larger industrial and commercial employers approximately 14% and 16% respectively.

Saving job creators $450 million annually in property taxes by lowering high Business Education Tax rates for over 200,000 employers, or about 94% of all business properties in Ontario. Empowering local municipalities to cut property taxes for small businesses, with a provincial commitment to consider matching the reductions, which would provide up to $385 million in property tax savings by 2022-23.

Proposing to make permanent the Employer Health Tax exemption increase from $490,000 to $1 million to ensure 90% of employers would not pay the tax – a savings of $360 million next year.

Making 2021 the Year of the Ontario Staycation by providing Ontarians with support of up to 20% for eligible tourism expenses.

Providing $100 million over two years for the Community Building Fund to support community tourism, and cultural and sport organizations facing financial pressures.

A one-time investment of $25 million for Ontario’s arts institutions to help cover operating losses.

Providing $500 million over four years to make government services more reliable, convenient and accessible through the Ontario Onwards Acceleration Fund.

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