Ontario Newsroom

Helping People in their Everyday Lives

Archived Backgrounder

Helping People in their Everyday Lives

Office of the Premier

The government's mandate to build Ontario up is about building a province that best supports its people. Jobs and growth is priority number one because a good job is the best way for people and their families to achieve their dreams in life.

It's also the government's top priority because good jobs and a growing economy mean government can invest in the priorities that help people in their everyday lives -- new roads and transit, a great education for young people, health care that people and their loved ones can rely on, easier access to government services and measures that help with the cost of everyday living.

For modern government to be a force for good, it must help people in their everyday lives.

This includes helping with people's daily costs and monthly bills, improving convenience and choice, protecting consumers from fraud, and reassuring people that their child or aging parents will receive the best possible care.

Over the past two years, the government has implemented or begun work on a number of measures to help people in their lives every day, including:

Reducing the cost of living

Relief on electricity bills

  • The government will introduce legislation that would rebate -- directly on consumers' residential electricity bills -- an amount equal to the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax, an eight per cent saving. The rebate would go into effect on January 1, 2017
  • Additionally, in recognition of the unique and special circumstances associated with the electricity cost-of-service for rural ratepayers, the existing rural support program would be significantly enhanced to provide even more on-bill savings for Ontario's eligible rural customers. Eligible rural customers would receive these additional savings, which would result in an on-bill monthly saving of about 20 per cent -- approximately $45 a month
  • As of January 1, 2016, the government removed the Debt Retirement Charge for residential electricity bills, saving a typical residential electricity user about $70 each year
  • The Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) is helping make electricity more affordable for low-income families. Monthly on-bill credits range from $30 to $50 a month. Consumers with unique electricity requirements could be eligible for a higher level of assistance

Lower hospital parking fees

  • The government is making hospital parking more affordable for approximately 900,000 patients and visitors, including 135,000 seniors
  • Frequent users now save 50 per cent on multiple-use passes at hospitals that charge more than $10 a day, and transferable passes valid for a year with in-and-out privileges will also be offered. All hospital parking rates remain frozen until January 2019 

Eliminating the Drive Clean test fee

  • Beginning April 1, 2017, the government will eliminate the $30 fee that drivers pay for their Drive Clean emissions tests

Full-day kindergarten

  • Full-day kindergarten has been available to every four- and five- year-old in Ontario since 2014, saving families up to $6,500 per child per year in child care costs while giving every child in Ontario the best possible start

Free shingles vaccine for seniors

  • The government is making the shingles vaccine free for eligible Ontario seniors between the ages of 65 and 70 -- saving tens of thousands of seniors about $170 each and significantly reducing their risk of developing shingles

Making UP Express more affordable

  • The fares for the Union Pearson Express (UP Express) have been lowered, making it a more attractive option for passengers travelling between Union Station and Pearson Airport. PRESTO card users now pay up to $9 and those not using PRESTO now pay up to $12

Reducing auto insurance rates

  • Over the last three years, the government has lowered auto insurance rates by an average of 10 per cent for Ontario's almost 10 million drivers

Increasing the Ontario Child Benefit

  • Ontario has increased and indexed the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB), which now helps one million children by providing income assistance to over 500,000 low- and middle-income families. In 2015, the OCB was indexed to inflation so families can keep up with the rising cost of living. Since the OCB took effect in 2008, the benefit has more than doubled, to a maximum annual payment of $1,336 per child

Ontario Student Grant

  • Ontario is transforming student aid to help families afford the cost of a postsecondary education. The new Ontario Student Grant will make average college and university tuition free for students from low-income families and for many students from middle-income families, eliminate provincial student debt for students with financial need from families with incomes of less than $50,000, and reduce the debt load of hundreds of thousands of graduates

Child care

  • The province has supported the increase in licensed child care spaces by 87 per cent, to a total of 351,000 spaces since 2003. Ontario is continuing to support access to child care by creating, starting in 2017, 100,000 new spaces for 0-4 year olds within five years, doubling overall capacity for this age group
  • In September 2016, the province eliminated wait list fees for child care spaces
  • Ontario is continuing to increase wages of early childhood educators (ECEs) and other child care program staff in the licensed child care sector, helping to close the wage gap in the sector and to help operators attract and keep the best ECEs

Raising minimum wage

  • The government has helped low-income workers and families by raising the minimum wage by 64 per cent since 2003. Most recently, in October 2015, it was raised to $11.25 per hour, one of the highest minimum wages in Canada. And because the government has now pegged minimum wage to inflation, minimum wage workers in Ontario will now receive annual raises that help keep up with the cost of living

Ontario Drug Benefit Plan

  • In 2016, increases to the income threshold for low-income seniors allowed 170,000 more seniors to qualify for reduced fees and pay less for their medications. Going forward, 30,000 more seniors will qualify every year for reduced prescription drugs costs under this plan

Low-income dental program

  • On January 6, 2016, the province integrated six existing oral health programs for children and youth from low-income families into a single program under Healthy Smiles Ontario 
  • As of July 31, 2016, more than 350,000 children and youth were enrolled in the integrated Healthy Smiles Ontario program

Student Nutrition Program

  • Not every family has the time or money to ensure their children are going to school properly nourished for a full day of learning. By enhancing the Student Nutrition Program, an additional 91,000 students in 190 more schools received healthy meals during the 2014-15 school year, in addition to 120 schools and other education settings in First Nation communities

Helping families afford fertility treatments

  • As of 2015, Ontario has made fertility treatments more accessible by contributing to the cost of one in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle per eligible patient per lifetime. More than 50 clinics across the province are now offering government-funded fertility treatments, helping start or expand 5,000 families every year

Introducing consumer protection and choice

The biggest alcohol retail shake-up since the end of prohibition

  • The government increased consumer convenience and choice by introducing wine, beer and cider in up to 450 grocery stores across the province and making a number of other changes to make it easier to purchase made-in-Ontario beverages

Protecting condo owners

  • New protections for condominium owners streamline the dispute resolution process and introduce safeguards to protect condo buyers and help them make more informed decisions

Licencing home inspectors

  • Regulating the province's home inspection industry better protects consumers from surprise costs and helps make them aware of safety issues before buying a home. This will also create a level playing field for the home inspection industry, preventing inspectors with little or no training from competing with qualified professionals by offering lower rates.

Serious Fraud Office

  • Setting up a new Serious Fraud Office that will specialize in detecting and tackling auto insurance fraud and fraud targeting seniors

Auto insurance dispute resolution

  • The government developed a new auto insurance dispute resolution system that will help Ontario drivers get faster access to the benefits they need
  • Measures to protect consumers include a prohibition on rate increases for minor at-fault accidents and a lower maximum interest rate for monthly auto insurance premium payments

Complete information about used vehicles

  • The government amended the Insurance Act to allow for regulations to be made to require insurers to provide claims and repair history information to motor vehicle dealers for disclosure to prospective used vehicle purchasers

Strengthening protections and expanding services offered by Credit Unions

  • The province has announced proposals that would create a more efficient and effective regulatory framework to better protect consumers and help credit unions better serve their members, while improving the competitiveness and choices within Ontario's financial services sector

Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians

  • With climate change increasing the incidence of weather-related disasters, the province launched a new Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program (DRAO) in 2015 to better help disaster victims repair or replace essential property and cover other eligible emergency costs. DRAO provides financial recovery assistance for essential items to affected homeowners, tenants, small owner-operated businesses and farms, and not-for-profit organizations

Increasing convenience, choice and online access to government services

LCBO e-commerce

  • Customers now have a new and convenient online experience to shop the world from their computer or smartphone using LCBO's new e-commerce website

Online filing service for small claims court

  • Individuals and businesses from across Ontario can now file small claims court forms and pay court filing fees online, 24 hours a day. Claims under $25,000 are eligible for e-filing, such as unpaid accounts for goods and services, loans, credit card debt and overdue rent

Expanding access to courses through eCampus Ontario

  • The first phase of eCampusOntario.ca provides students across the province with one-window access to more than 13,000 online courses and over 600 programs offered by Ontario colleges and universities

Improving online offerings at ServiceOntario

  • The government has moved a number of services online for greater convenience, including licence plate sticker renewal, driver's licence renewal, and newborn registration
  • Ontario is moving towards online health card renewals by 2018, which will also align the way Ontarians change their address for their health cards and driver's licences, simplifying the transaction and improving the integrity of customer information

Moving people faster, safer and in greater comfort

More transit

  • In March 2013, there were 1,119 GO train trips every week. As of September 2016, there are 1,677 GO train trips per week, a service expansion of 50 per cent over three years
  • Over the next 10 years, as new stations are built and tracks are electrified to deliver GO Regional Express Rail, weekly trips across the entire GO rail network will grow to nearly 6,000. This represents more than a doubling of peak service and a quadrupling of off-peak service compared to today and will reduce journey times for some cross-region transit trips by as much as 50 per cent

More convenient payment options

  • The government is making travel more convenient and seamless by continuing to roll out the PRESTO fare card system across local and regional transit agencies

New transit

  • 50 kilometres of new and dedicated rapid transit corridors are being built, including the new Eglinton Crosstown LRT in Toronto, Waterloo Region LRT, Ottawa's Confederation line LRT, Mississauga LRT, and Hamilton LRT

Better roads and bridges

  • Over the next five years, about 5,000 kilometres of highways will be built or repaved -- and more than 750 bridges will be built, repaired or rebuilt