One Ontario: Investing in People
The Ontario government is introducing a new three-part plan to grow the economy and create jobs. This plan invests in people, builds modern infrastructure and supports a dynamic and innovative business climate.
Forces outside Ontario continue to affect the economy, leading many Ontarians to worry about their job security and their future. The recovery from the global recession remains uncertain. What is certain is the government's determination to help Ontario families and businesses succeed.
New investments in the people of Ontario are the government's foremost priority. Ontario is stronger when the government and the people all work together as One Ontario -- spurring economic growth, creating new jobs, strengthening public services and helping families.
Leading the Way to Secure Retirement
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is the foundation of Canada's retirement income system. The Province is working to secure agreement among provinces and the federal government on enhancing the CPP. If the federal government cannot be brought on board, the Province will move forward with a "made in Ontario" solution for those Ontarians who will require more support than is currently provided by the CPP.
In addition, the government will:
- Advance an Ontario framework for pooled registered pension plans to provide employees, particularly those working in small and medium-sized businesses, with a simplified, portable, low-cost retirement savings vehicle
- Work to reduce the cost of investing in self-directed retirement savings, such as RRSPs, and provide individuals with the tools to make informed decisions about financial savings
- Review recommendations by the Ontario Securities Commission, which is examining the structure of mutual fund fees, and consider more tailored regulation of financial advisers and planners
- Continue implementing new and revised rules to ensure Ontario's private-sector defined benefit (DB) plans remain financially sound and public-sector DB plans remain affordable and sustainable.
Education is the cornerstone of the government's economic plan. Investments in education will continue to build on student achievement, support innovative, technology-enabled teaching and learning practices, and integrate the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st-century global labour market.
Supporting Creative and Innovative Learning
Ontario remains committed to preparing its youngest students for a productive future. Full-day kindergarten gives children a better start in school and prepares them for success in Grade 1 and beyond.
- This school year, full-day kindergarten is available to about 184,000 four- and five-year-olds in approximately 2,600 schools
- When the program is fully implemented in September 2014, all four- and five-year-olds will have access, benefiting approximately 265,000 children and saving families up to $6,500 per child per year on child care costs.
To ensure Ontario is preparing its students to succeed in the global economy, the government continues to consult with the public on moving Ontario's education system from "great to excellent." This vision will guide the next phase of Ontario's education system.
Transforming Postsecondary Education and Training
Ontario colleges and universities prepare the next generation for good jobs. Recognizing these benefits, Ontario has introduced a number of initiatives resulting in significant achievements to boost higher education.
The 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant, introduced in 2011-12, has helped students from low- and middle-income families access higher education. The government is proposing to further improve access to postsecondary education by better aligning tuition fee deadlines with Ontario Student Assistance Program payments, so that students would not face penalties for late payment while they are waiting for their student assistance to arrive.
A sustainable postsecondary education system supports job creation, enhanced productivity and better collaboration with regional communities. The Province is working with colleges, universities, students and other stakeholders to build a sustainable education system through priorities such as:
- Improved collaboration with industry on program development and applied research
- Collaboration between postsecondary institutions and support for institutions to build on their distinctive strengths
- Improved credit transfers between institutions to improve options for students.
Expanding French Postsecondary Education
Ontario is providing $16.5 million to help universities and colleges expand their French-language programs and services, including expansions underway at York University's Glendon College, Collège Boréal and La Cité collégiale in the Greater Toronto Area. The government has increased funding to French-language postsecondary education by more than 62 per cent since 2003-04.
Supporting Northern Ontario Students
Ontario is committed to making smart investments that will help northern Ontario's economy grow and create more jobs. The Ontario government has invested in Lakehead's new Faculty of Law and Laurentian's new School of Architecture, northern Ontario's first law and architecture schools, both of which opened their doors in September 2013.
Connecting People to Tomorrow's Jobs
To ensure all Ontarians can participate in the economy to their full potential, the government is continuing to take action by helping youth and workers needing additional training and support, and by providing support for those in greatest need.
Implementing the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy
The Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy was created to help 30,000 young people find jobs, start their own businesses and gain valuable skills. A key element of the strategy, the Youth Employment Fund, was launched in September 2013. To help cover wage and training costs, the fund gives employers incentives to offer four- to six-month job and training placements for young people, with 2,000 jobs already created. It also helps young people pay for job-related costs, like tools and transportation to work.
Connecting Companies to Workers
The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities' Rapid Re-employment and Training Service currently provides immediate response to announced layoffs, by connecting individuals with Employment Ontario services that will help them find new jobs. The capacity will be expanded to better match skilled workers with either existing employers expanding or new companies investing in Ontario, contributing to Ontario's renewed focus on engaging employers across all regions.
Helping Provide Fresh Food to Those in Need
The government is working with other Members of Provincial Parliament on a non-refundable tax credit to encourage farmers to donate surplus fresh food to those in need.
Stronger Rights for Wireless Consumers
Cell phones are the new utilities. They are not luxuries; they are necessities of modern life. Wireless costs are too high in Ontario. The Province is committed to providing consumers with clear information and fewer surprises when they enter into cell phone and wireless services contracts.
The new Wireless Services Agreements Act, 2013, will benefit wireless consumers by:
- Limiting the cost associated with cancelling a contract
- Requiring contracts to be written in plain, easy-to-understand language
- Ensuring contracts clearly spell out which services come with the basic fee, and which would result in a higher bill
- Showing all-inclusive prices in wireless services pricing and advertisements.
These reforms would protect the rights of consumers while furthering the Ontario government's commitment to building a strong economy and a fair, safe and informed marketplace.
Reducing Auto Insurance Rates
The government is taking strong action to make auto insurance more affordable for the more than nine million drivers in Ontario. In August 2013, the government announced a multi-faceted plan to reduce auto insurance rates for Ontario drivers by 15 per cent on average within the next two years -- with an average eight per cent reduction target by August 2014.
Transforming the auto insurance dispute resolution system is another key element of the Ontario government's Cost and Rate Reduction Strategy. The Honourable J. Douglas Cunningham, former Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice, has delivered an interim report on ways to reform the dispute resolution system. Mr. Cunningham outlined preliminary recommendations toward a new quicker and more efficient model for resolving disputes. The government will work with stakeholders in preparation of legislation after receiving the final report early in the new year.
The Ontario government is also continuing to crack down on auto insurance fraud to further benefit consumers. The government has already taken a number of actions to address key recommendations made by the Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force, such as a framework for licensing health clinics in the auto insurance system, and expanding the regulator's investigation and enforcement authority.
Renewing the Drive Clean Program
The government will be reducing Drive Clean fees paid by consumers. The program protects public health by reducing smog-causing emissions by more than a third every year, removing 335,000 tonnes of smog-causing pollutants from the air since 1999.
Stronger Rights and More Protection for Consumers
Educating and protecting Ontario consumers are part of the government's plan to ensure a fair marketplace and help people in their everyday lives. If passed, the government's proposed Bill 55, Stronger Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2013, would:
- Curb aggressive door-to-door sales tactics on the sale of water heaters
- Protect vulnerable, indebted consumers against the abusive practices of some companies offering debt-settlement services
- Help protect home buyers and sellers in real estate bidding
- Give home sellers and buyers more power to negotiate both fees and commissions when working with a real estate professional.
Protecting Ontario's Investors
Ontario's capital markets are well regulated and provide safe, stable and attractive investment opportunities. The government remains committed to modernizing securities laws and regulations to ensure sound and efficient markets that help investors and savers work toward their financial goals.
Financial literacy helps Ontarians make informed investment decisions. The government encourages investors to access available financial literacy resources, including the Investor Education Fund's website. The government will continue to work with its partners in promoting financial literacy.
The government is looking to the advice of the Ontario Securities Commission as it reviews the structure of mutual fund fees (including trailer fees) in Canada to determine whether there are investor protection or fairness issues, and to recommend any next steps.
In addition, the government will investigate the merits of tailored regulation of financial planners.
Common Securities Regulator
Ontario has long been a leader in advocating for the creation of a common securities regulator. It sees a cooperative securities regulator as key to the country's ability to sustain and grow its financial services industry.
Moving to a cooperative securities regulator would foster more efficient and globally competitive capital markets in Canada through streamlined, less burdensome regulation for market participants. It would strengthen Canada's capacity to identify and manage risks to its financial system on a national basis. It would provide better protection for investors through more integrated compliance and enforcement activities to allow households to save and invest with confidence.
Improving Fairness for Investors
To improve fairness for investors, the government proposes to change the calculation of the Ontario surtax with respect to Ontario's dividend tax credits and also to change the credit rates. With these proposed changes, Ontario's dividend tax credits would have the same value for all taxpayers, regardless of their incomes.
About 925,000 people, including 375,000 seniors, with generally low to moderate incomes would pay on average $145 less Ontario Personal Income Tax, and 110,000 higher-income people would pay on average $1,180 more.
The government will continue to review the tax system to see what other changes need to be made to enhance fairness.
Keeping Seniors Active
The government is announcing Ontario's first-ever grant program solely dedicated to seniors. This $500,000 program will help seniors participate in more community activities, continue their learning in areas like technology and financial literacy, and develop a strong sense of social inclusion and community participation.
This grant program builds on previously announced support for seniors, including Ontario's Action Plan for Seniors, and is another step towards making Ontario the best place to age, to live longer and to live well.