Ontario Passes Budget Focused on Care and Opportunity
Province Investing in Health Care, Child Care, Home Care, Growing the Economy and Creating Jobs
Today the Ontario government passed the Plan for Care and Opportunity Act (Budget Measures), 2018, which supports the government's plan to invest in health care, child care, home care and mental health, and focuses on initiatives that make life more affordable and provide more financial security during a time of rapid economic change.
Ontario's economy is getting stronger, with the unemployment rate at its lowest in almost two decades. Yet between the rising cost of living and stable, long-term jobs becoming harder to find, many people are struggling to take care of themselves and their families. As the changing economy widens the gaps within our society, the government has a plan to build a fairer, better Ontario by supporting everyone in the province with the care and opportunity they need to get ahead.
As part of the 2018 Budget, the government is:
- Making historic investments in mental health and addictions services — an additional $2.1 billion in new funding over the next four years to provide better and faster access for hundreds of thousands more children, young people and adults across Ontario. This brings the total investment in mental health and addictions services in the province to more than $17 billion over four years.
- 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.
- Making preschool child care free for children aged two-and-a-half until they are eligible to start kindergarten, saving families up to $17,000 per child and helping parents return to work when they choose.
- Introducing the 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 seniors 75 and over up to $750 annually to help with the costs of maintaining their homes through the new Seniors' Healthy Home Program. This recognizes the costs associated with older seniors living at home, where they want to be.
- 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 $19 billion over the next 10 years in approximately 40 major hospital projects to provide more and faster health care for people.
- Increasing access to home and community health care with a $650 million investment over three years to provide an estimated 2.8 million more hours of personal support, 284,000 more nursing visits and 58,000 more therapy visits in 2018-19.
- Creating 30,000 new long-term care beds over the next 10 years — adding 5,000 new beds by 2022 — to help people who can no longer live independently and provide peace of mind for people who care for them. These new beds are in addition to the 30,000 existing beds being redeveloped.
- Making college and university tuition more affordable through changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). This year over 235,000 college and university students are receiving free tuition. The 2018 Budget commits to providing more support for low- and middle-income families, ensuring that tuition is free for those earning up to $90,000. Students from families who earn up to $175,000 are also eligible for financial aid.
- Growing the economy and creating good jobs by providing $935 million in new funding over three years through the Good Jobs and Growth Plan to support businesses, students and graduates.
- Strengthening services for adults with developmental disabilities by investing $1.8 billion to ease the transition from youth to adulthood, help ensure people are appropriately housed, and expand the Passport Program to provide eligible people with at least $5,000 a year in direct funding.
Ontario's plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free licensed preschool child care from 2 ½ to kindergarten.
- Since the recession, Ontario’s economy has gained over 800,000 net new jobs. The unemployment rate was at a 17year low in March 2018, and has remained below the national average for 35 consecutive months.
- For the past three years Ontario’s economic growth has outpaced other G7 countries.
“Ontario leads most G7 countries on average economic growth. Our unemployment is the lowest in almost two decades as a result of our government’s progressive measures. Ontario’s budget continues to support young children and aging parents by choosing to make more investments in health care, child care, home care and mental health, while creating new opportunities to grow our economy and make life more affordable for people across the province.”