It’s a record-setting provincial budget in Ontario.
Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy has tabled a record $204.7 billion budget, which includes a deficit of approximately $2.2 billion for this fiscal year.
That’s down around $17.7 billion from last year with Bethlenfalvy saying the books will be balanced by 2025.
Support for industries, tax relief for manufacturers and small businesses, as well as millions to expand surgeries at private clinics, are all included in the 186-page document.
There’s no new money for COVID-19 relief and paid sick days are off the table as well, ceasing to exist for employees without them at the end of this month.
Ontarians dealing with the impacts of rising inflation won’t find any support in the budget and there’s no funding set aside for building new hospitals or roads.
An additional $25 million over three years has been earmarked for enhancing the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program in an effort to attract more skilled workers, including in-demand professionals in the skilled trades, to the province.
It also proposes changes to expand the Guaranteed Annual Income System program, starting in July 2024, that would allow 100,000 additional seniors to be eligible for the program and the benefit adjusted annually to inflation.
Official Opposition NDP Leader, Marit Stiles calls the budget a failure of leadership and accuses the Ford government of shortchanging municipalities through massive cuts, funneling public money into private healthcare facilities run by their insider friends, and more.
Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner says this “head-in-the-sand budget” is not only a failure, it’s bad fiscal policy that shows the Ford government is in denial of the need to invest in Ontarians and instead is funneling billions of dollars into super-sprawl that makes life less affordable.
***With files from Mo Fahim