Building Ontario Up for Everyone in 2016
Over the past year, the government has continued its work to help people in their everyday lives. It has made substantial progress on its plan to create jobs and more inclusive economic growth. And it remains on track to eliminate the deficit in 2017-18 while protecting the public services people across Ontario count on.
Some highlights of this year's progress include:
Repairing and Upgrading Community Agency Buildings
January 12, 2016
Ontario is helping more than 350 community agencies fix or replace crucial infrastructure in their buildings. The province is supporting maintenance and improvements at Indigenous wellness centres, violence against women community agencies and developmental services providers. The funding will also go towards helping children's treatment centres, children's aid societies and youth centres to provide safe and comfortable environments for the children and families who rely on their services.
Projects to keep facilities in good working order include upgrading accessible washrooms, installing carbon monoxide and fire alarms, and repairing or replacing roofs, windows and furnaces.
Expanding Trade and Strengthening International Partnerships
January 31-February 5, May 13-20, June 15-17, August 29-September 2 and November 28-December 2, 2016
Premier Wynne led successful international missions to India, Israel and the Middle East, the U.S., Mexico, Japan and South Korea. These trips showcased Ontario's role as a leading innovation centre in sectors such as cleantech, life sciences, and information and communications technology. They strengthened relationships that are crucial to doing business and research together. And they yielded hundreds of agreements that will help drive exports, build Ontario as a hub of the knowledge economy and create good jobs across the province.
February 16, 2016
Ontario established the Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) to work across government to combat systemic racism and apply an anti-racism perspective to policies and programs. This year the ARD held 10 community meetings across the province to engage with the public on addressing systemic racism and eliminating barriers for Indigenous and racialized communities. This is part of the government's efforts to address racism in all its forms and ensure that everyone in Ontario has the opportunity to fulfill their potential and participate equally in society.
Recognizing Black History Month
February 16, 2016
Ontario passed legislation to formally recognize February as Black History Month on an annual basis. Ontario first proclaimed February as Black History Month in 1993, and since then it has continued to be celebrated, but has not had official status. The uniqueness, vitality and continuing contributions of the Black community in Ontario will be celebrated for generations to come.
Investing to Reduce Emissions and Support Innovation
February 17, 2016
Ontario put its new Climate Change Strategy into action by committing nearly $100 million for projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency and support cleantech innovation and jobs. The government will help entrepreneurs find ways to reduce emissions and encourage large industrial facilities to adopt cutting-edge clean technologies. Ontario will also invest in a Green SMART energy efficiency program for small and medium-sized businesses.
Giving Young Children the Best Start in Life
February 19, 2016
The province is launching modernized Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres to improve access to services for young children. The centres will combine four separate programs and offer parents and their children a suite of high-quality early years services, as well as local services tailored to their communities.
Apologizing for the Ban on French in Schools
February 22, 2016
Ontario took another important step in protecting and promoting the French language and identity in the province when Premier Wynne apologized in the Legislative Assembly for a 1912 regulation that effectively outlawed public French-language education in primary schools for more than a decade. She praised the Franco-Ontarian community for its tremendous courage and tenacity to ensure that Francophone culture is integral to Ontario, and for helping to transform the province into a place that fully embraces different cultures and languages.
Helping Communities Renew Roads, Bridges and Water Systems
February 22, 2016
The government is helping small, rural and northern communities by providing them with predictable, stable funding to build and repair roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure. The Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund will triple from $100 million to $300 million per year by 2019.
Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women
February 23, 2016
The government is working to end violence against Indigenous women through Walking Together: Ontario's Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, which it developed in collaboration with Indigenous partners. The province has committed $100 million over three years in new funding to take action in six areas: support for children, youth and families; community safety and healing; policing and justice; prevention and awareness; leadership, collaboration, alignment and accountability; and improved data and research.
Helping Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Embrace Next-Gen Technologies
February 24, 2016
Ontario is partnering with IBM and Ontario Centres of Excellence to help 500 small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) create jobs, embrace next-generation technologies and compete in the global marketplace. The IBM Innovation Incubator Project will help SMEs fast-track the launch of new technologies and products to international clients, reinforcing Ontario's position as an ideal place to develop and launch innovative technologies and concepts.
Investing in Better Patient Care
February 29, March 21 and November 14, 2016
Ontario made a series of investments in the hospital sector in 2016-17 totalling $485 million. These investments will enable hospitals to meet the growing needs of patients and families in Ontario by addressing key challenges, including improving access for priority services, mitigating pressures on hospitals in high-growth communities, reducing wait times, and providing funding for small, northern and rural hospitals.
Making Tuition Free for More Than 150,000 Students
March 1, 2016
Ontario is making college and university more accessible and affordable for low- and middle-income students and their families by replacing a number of existing provincial assistance programs with a new single, targeted, non-repayable OSAP grant. The changes will start in the 2017-18 academic year. The modernization of the Ontario Student Assistance Program will make average tuition free for more than 150,000 eligible students from low- and middle-income families, and will reduce the cost for many more.
Helping Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment
March 8 and June 28, 2016
As part of It's Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment, Ontario passed legislation to improve support for survivors who come forward about abuse, and to make workplaces and campuses safer and more responsive to complaints about sexual violence and harassment. The law's provisions include requiring publicly assisted postsecondary institutions and private career colleges to have a stand-alone sexual violence policy and creating specific employer responsibilities, such as a duty to ensure that incidents and complaints are appropriately investigated. Ontario is also piloting a program that provides free independent legal advice to survivors of sexual assault.
Achieving Key Milestones on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT
March 10, June 30 and August 17, 2016
Ontario is making significant progress on building the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit, including breaking ground on stations on the line. The Crosstown -- one of the largest transit construction projects in Canada -- will reduce travel times, create thousands of construction jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Offering Care to Help People Die with Dignity
March 11, 2016
The government will help patients spend their final days in a home-like setting by investing in community-based residential hospice and palliative care. Ontario will fund 20 more hospices, almost doubling the number of people who will be able to access this care, and provide more support to caregivers.
Helping People Find Affordable Housing
March 14 and December 7, 2016
The government is increasing the supply of affordable housing and making sure that more people have access to adequate housing. Ontario is making it harder to evict people unnecessarily from social housing and increasing funding to prevent and reduce homelessness. Through an updated Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy, it is giving people who receive housing assistance the flexibility to choose where they want to live and municipalities the power to require that new developments must include affordable housing units.
Increasing Funding for Schools
March 24, 2016
Ontario increased its investment for publicly funded education, including more funding per pupil. The $22.9 billion in funding in 2016-17 through the Grants for Student Needs -- about $300 million more than in the previous year -- will allow school boards to support funding for classrooms, school leadership and operations, as well as specific student-related priorities and local school board management. It also includes increased support for First Nation, Métis and Inuit education to help implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Cutting Red Tape
March 29, 2016
Ontario is asking businesses and the public to help identify and improve regulations that are unclear, outdated, redundant or unnecessarily costly by participating in the Red Tape Challenge. The challenge focuses on seven business sectors: auto parts manufacturing, food processing, financial services, mining, chemical manufacturing, forestry and tourism.
Modernizing Long-Term Care
April 4, 2016
Ontario is investing in long-term care homes to support residents who require assistance with daily living, access to 24-hour nursing care and supervision in a protected setting. The province is committed to supporting the redevelopment of more than 30,000 long-term care beds in more than 300 long-term care homes to current design standards by 2025.
Supporting First Responders With PTSD
April 5, 2016
Ontario passed legislation that recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosed in first responders is work-related. This will give police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other eligible workers who have been diagnosed with PTSD faster access to WSIB benefits, resources and proper treatment.
Repairing Local Roads and Bridges
April 8, 2016
Ontario will repair critical roads and bridges in 23 municipalities across the province. Increased funding to the Connecting Links program will make roads and bridges safer, foster economic growth, and create or sustain jobs in communities.
April 13, 2016
Ontario passed budget measures legislation outlining the next phase of the government's plan to create jobs and economic growth. This includes a record investment to build and repair public transit, roads, schools, hospitals and other crucial infrastructure across the province. This investment will support an average of 110,000 jobs per year.
Revitalizing Highways and Bridges
April 15, 2016
Ontario is working to reduce commute times and improve the flow of goods in the province by widening highways and repairing bridges. The government is investing more than $2.1 billion in more than 230 highway and bridge construction projects this year, creating or sustaining more than 21,000 jobs.
Providing Free Dental Care for More Children
April 26, 2016
Ontario is providing free access to preventive, routine, and emergency and essential dental care to eligible children and youth from low-income families through the new Healthy Smiles Ontario program. To date, more than 320,000 children and youth have enrolled in the program, which integrates six previously separate dental programs and benefits.
Expanding GO Bus Service to Brantford
April 27, 2016
Ontario has extended GO Transit's bus service to Brantford to connect the city to the GO network, give commuters more transit options and reduce congestion.
Setting a Record Graduation Rate for High School
May 3, 2016
Ontario's high school graduation rate passed the provincial target of 85 per cent to reach the highest in the province's history. The 2015 rate of 85.5 per cent is up by more than 17 percentage points since 2004. The government has introduced a number of innovative programs that have helped to sharply boost the graduation rate. These include specialist high skills majors, dual credits and expanded cooperative education.
Growing the Greenbelt
May 10, 2016
Ontario is preventing urban sprawl and safeguarding the environment by growing the Greenbelt, a permanently protected area of green space, farmland, forests, wetlands and watersheds in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Changes to four provincial plans that shape how land is used across this region will help protect water, increase density, preserve farmland, protect natural heritage systems and fight climate change.
Investing Cap and Trade Proceeds in Green Projects
May 18, 2016
Ontario passed legislation so it can link its cap and trade program with the ones in Québec and California. Joining North America's largest carbon market will create jobs and new opportunities for Ontario businesses. The law will ensure that every dollar raised from cap and trade is invested in a transparent and accountable way in green projects that will help households and businesses reduce greenhouse gas pollution and save on their energy costs.
Improving Health Care for Indigenous People
May 25, 2016
Ontario is investing nearly $222 million over three years to ensure Indigenous people have access to more culturally appropriate care and improved outcomes, focusing on the North where there are significant gaps in health services. This investment will be followed by sustained funding of $104.5 million annually to address health inequities and improve access to culturally appropriate health services over the long term. The First Nations Health Action Plan, which will be implemented and evaluated in close partnership with Indigenous communities, focuses on primary care, public health and health promotion, seniors care, hospital services, and life promotion and crisis support.
Ontario will use revenues from cap and trade initiatives to help make apartment buildings -- both social housing and privately owned -- more energy efficient and comfortable for tenants. It will provide funding to improve social housing such as energy-efficient windows and thermal insulation on piping. It will offer rebates or grants so owners of private apartment buildings can retrofit lighting and install energy-efficient systems such as new boilers. And it will make it illegal to pass along these costs to tenants.
Premier Kathleen Wynne apologized on behalf of the Government of Ontario for the brutalities committed for generations at residential schools and the continued harm this abuse has caused to Indigenous cultures, communities, families and individuals. The province also released an action plan -- developed working closely with Indigenous partners -- that will help Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples move forward in a spirit of reconciliation. The plan invests more than $250 million over three years in new initiatives in five areas: understanding the legacy of residential schools, closing gaps and removing barriers, creating a culturally relevant and responsive justice system, supporting Indigenous culture and reconciling relationships with Indigenous Peoples.
Ontario passed legislation that will divert more waste from landfills by requiring producers to take full responsibility for recovering resources and reducing waste associated with their products and packaging. The legislation also encourages producers to turn more of their waste into new products. It will reduce greenhouse gas pollution by reusing, recycling or composting materials that would otherwise go to landfill sites.
Extending Subway Service to York Region
June 1 and 6, 2016
Track work on the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, which will extend the subway into York Region, was completed. The subway will provide a convenient new travel option by extending service beyond regional boundaries in the province for the first time. Ontario also provided support for planning and design work on a proposed Relief Line to manage congestion on the Yonge subway line in Toronto.
Expanding Light Rail Transit in Ottawa
June 3, 2016
Ontario is committing more than $1 billion toward Ottawa's Light Rail Transit (LRT) expansion project, which will help grow the economy, reduce travel times and connect people to jobs. The funding represents the largest provincial transit investment in Ottawa's history. New, modern light rail vehicles on tracks separated from regular traffic will offer fast, efficient service and improve travel for people across the region. The expanded LRT will also lower greenhouse gas pollution, improving air quality and fighting climate change.
Ontario has set a target to ensure that more women have the opportunity to reach top leadership positions at provincial agencies and other government organizations. The target calls for women to make up at least 40 per cent of all appointments to every provincial board and agency by 2019. Ontario is also encouraging businesses to, by the end of 2017, set a target of appointing 30 per cent women to their boards of directors within three to five years.
Growing a Low-Carbon Economy
June 8, 2016
Ontario is providing people and businesses with tools and incentives to accelerate the use of clean technology through its Climate Change Action Plan. The plan includes creating a green bank to finance technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings; expanding transit and increasing the availability of zero-emissions vehicles; making new buildings increasingly energy efficient; and making Ontario one of the easiest and most affordable places in North America to install or retrofit clean-energy systems like solar power, battery storage, advanced insulation and heat pumps.
Building Modern Hospital Infrastructure
June 10, 2016
Ontario will invest $12 billion over 10 years to continue building modern hospitals. Across the province, about 35 major hospital projects are under construction or in various stages of planning. In June, Women's College Hospital re-opened in Toronto. The hospital replaced existing, outdated buildings and consolidated most services in a single location, providing better coordinated care for patients.
Moving Toward Gender Parity in a Strong New Cabinet Team
June 13, 2016
The government took another step toward gender parity with women now making up 40 per cent of the provincial cabinet. Halfway through her mandate, the Premier chose a strong team to implement her government's ambitious agenda to create jobs and economic growth. The new team balanced continuity, with ministers remaining in several key portfolios, and change, with 10 ministers taking on new roles and seven new members.
Expanding GO Rail Service
June 14, 2016
The province is expanding GO Rail to serve more commuters, improve travel times, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, create jobs and grow the economy. GO Rail will expand its service in Waterloo and Durham regions, and extend it to Niagara Region -- strengthening connections among communities and businesses across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Accelerating the Growth of Social Enterprises
June 21, 2016
The government launched a five-year strategy to help social enterprises expand, enter new markets and create jobs. Ontario has 10,000 social enterprises, which tackle complex social and environmental challenges by using revenue-generating business strategies and measuring their results. The province will help equip social enterprises with solid business fundamentals, connect them to markets and capital so they can scale up and demonstrate their value to investors, government and communities.
Ontario is developing an integrated strategy to help the province adapt to the technology-driven knowledge economy. The strategy will incorporate 28 recommendations delivered by an expert panel on building tomorrow's workforce. It will include more opportunities for high school and postsecondary students to learn through experience. To ensure a place for everyone in the new economy, the strategy will also help make sure adult education, basic skills and training programs are reaching and assisting the right people. The government will create a planning and partnership table with a mix of leaders from business, labour, education and government to help steer this work.
Testing a Basic Income Pilot
June 24 and November 3, 2016
Ontario is exploring innovative ways to deliver supports and services, including through a Basic Income Pilot. The government is seeking input from across the province, including from people with lived experience, municipalities, experts, Indigenous partners and academics. The province is consulting on key questions, including who should be eligible, where the pilot project should take place, what the basic income level should be and how best to evaluate it.
Restoring Aging Schools to a State of Good Repair
June 27, 2016
Ontario is massively expanding its program to repair and renew schools -- half of which are at least 40 years old -- so they can continue to be safe and modern places for students to learn. The province is investing $2.7 billion over two years, almost 70 per cent more than originally allocated. School boards will use this funding to help fix or replace crucial structural elements such as roofs, flooring and furnaces at more than 2,100 schools.
Expanding Support for Children with Autism
June 28, 2016
Ontario is providing more support for children and youth with autism. This includes accelerating the implementation of the new Ontario Autism Program, which will provide children with more flexible services at a level of intensity that meets each child's individual needs. It will significantly reduce wait times for service, and increase the number of treatment spaces available to serve more children. Ontario is investing half a billion dollars over the next five years to create new services for children and youth with autism.
Strengthening Retirement Security
June 29, 2016
Ontario played a central role in achieving a historic agreement among federal, provincial and territorial governments to enhance the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) in an effort to improve the retirement income of future generations of Canadians. Since 2013, Ontario has been advocating for a national solution to improve retirement security. Ontario stepped up to address the retirement savings challenge by developing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. However, enhancing the CPP was always the government's priority and preferred approach, and in June a national agreement-in-principle to enhance the CPP was reached. The province is now working with its partners to implement the CPP enhancement agreement.
Making Ontario More Inclusive of Gender Diversity
June 29, 2016
Ontario is strengthening the fair treatment of people with trans and non-binary gender identities by changing the way gender information is displayed on health cards and driver's licences. The province is also consulting with stakeholders and the public on how it collects, uses, retains and displays gender and sex information on public government forms and products.
The province will significantly boost the incomes of families who receive both social assistance and child support payments. Child support payments are currently treated as income, so they are deducted dollar for dollar from social assistance benefits. Starting in early 2017, they will be fully exempt. This will increase the incomes of almost 19,000 families -- most of them single-parent households -- by an average of $3,380 per year. Ontario has also committed to ensuring that families receiving social assistance will fully benefit from the new federal Canada Child Benefit without any provincial clawback. As a result, almost 260,000 children in families who receive social assistance will benefit from the full amount of their Canada Child Benefit payment.
Taking Steps to End Human Trafficking
June 30, 2016
Ontario is investing up to $72 million in an anti-human-trafficking strategy aimed at increasing awareness and coordination, enhancing justice-sector initiatives and improving survivors' access to services. Ontario is a major centre for human trafficking in Canada, accounting for about 65 percent of police-reported cases nationally in 2014. The new strategy focuses on four areas: prevention and community supports, enhanced justice sector initiatives, Indigenous-led approaches, and provincial coordination and leadership. The Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Coordination Office was also established to oversee and coordinate the implementation of strategy initiatives across participating ministries. Jennifer Richardson was hired to lead the office in November. She has more than 22 years of experience in combatting human trafficking and most recently managed Tracia's Trust, Manitoba's sexual exploitation strategy.
Strengthening the Voice of Patients in the Health Care System
July 4, 2016
The government has made the health care system more responsive to patients by creating Ontario's first Patient Ombudsman. This office receives and responds to complaints from patients about public hospitals, long-term care homes and Community Care Access Centres in order to help meet the needs of patients who have not had their concerns resolved through existing complaint mechanisms. Christine Elliott, Ontario's first Patient Ombudsman, has the authority to respond to, facilitate the resolution of, and investigate complaints, as well as investigate health sector organizations on her own initiative and make recommendations. Ontario also announced it will establish a Patient and Family Advisory Council to advise government on health policy priorities that have an impact on patient care and patient experiences.
Leading Economic Growth at Home and Abroad
July 18, 2016
Ontario posted higher growth in real GDP (excluding inflation) in the first quarter of 2016 than Canada, the U.S. and all other G7 countries. The province's strong rate of growth -- 3.0 per cent at an annualized rate -- increased its real GDP to 11.8 per cent above the pre-recession level despite a challenging global economy. Ontario's economy is expected to remain one of the fastest growing in Canada over the next two years.
Expanding Access to Home Care for People with High Needs
July 19, 2016
Ontario is investing $100 million this year to enhance support for home care clients with high needs and their caregivers. This investment, which will help clients and caregivers most in need, consists of $80 million for enhanced home care and $20 million for caregiver respite. Home care patients and those who care for them will benefit from additional hours of nursing care, personal support, respite services and rehabilitation.
Strengthening Arts and Culture
July 20, 2016
Ontario launched its first culture strategy, which is promoting participation in arts and culture, building on the sector's economic impact in communities across the province and helping Ontarians tell their stories and express themselves. Key actions include supporting the use of more content by Canadian authors in schools, developing a new Indigenous Culture Fund, conserving heritage buildings through energy-efficient improvements, and enhancing technical and business skills training for workers in the culture sector.
Helping Keep Hospital Facilities in Good Shape
August 4, 2016
Ontario is providing $175 million in 2016-17 to hospitals across the province -- $50 million more than last year -- to help keep them in a state of good repair so patients can continue to receive high-quality care in a safe and healthy environment. The investment will help 135 hospitals extend the useful life or improve the quality of their facilities through projects such as fixing or replacing roofs, windows, HVAC systems and fire alarms.
Strengthening Health Care in the North
August 7, 2016
Ontario is strengthening health care in Northern communities by finding innovative ways to deliver care to patients through a new pilot project for rural health hubs. The government will provide $2.5 million in funding to enhance service integration at five health care locations so they can better meet the unique needs of rural communities and provide high-quality care for patients. They will connect modern services and coordinate transitions between caregivers and doctors -- and make it easier for patients and their families to understand and access health services.
Upgrading the Polar Bear Express
August 12, 2016
Ontario is refurbishing passenger coaches on the Polar Bear Express to modernize a rail service that provides an essential link for people and businesses in the North. The refurbished rail cars will improve the travel experience by offering passengers new seats with electrical and USB charging, accessible washrooms, modern flooring, enhanced luggage space, comfortable dining cars and a family car.
Improving ER Care
August 19, 2016
The province is helping ensure that patients receive the right care at the right time by funding 300,000 dedicated emergency room nursing hours in hospitals across Ontario. These nurses will work exclusively on receiving patients from ambulances, freeing up paramedics to respond to more 911 calls. To support improvements to emergency department wait times in 2016-17, Ontario provided $90 million in one-time funding to 73 high-volume emergency departments through the Pay for Results program. This funding is targeted at hospitals and Local Health Integration Networks to reduce emergency department length of stays, increase patient access to quality health services and improve the overall patient experience.
Working to Close the Gender Wage Gap
August 25, 2016
Ontario is working on a plan to close the gender wage gap in order to create equal opportunities for prosperity and strengthen the economy by eliminating barriers that prevent women's full participation in the workforce. The government will require gender-based analysis in the government policy process; make Ontario Public Service salary data publicly available by gender; appoint an associate minister to build affordable, accessible and high-quality early years and child care programs; and provide employers with resources including training materials and other education products.
Attracting Major Investments From Global Companies
August 26, 2016
GE chose Welland as the site to build one of its most advanced factories in the world, which will create 220 jobs and strengthen Ontario as an advanced-manufacturing hub. GE is one of several global companies making major investments in the province, including IBM, Fiat Chrysler, Huawei and General Motors. They are attracted by strengths such as a competitive tax system, stable financial markets, modern infrastructure, and a highly skilled and trained workforce.
Investing in Infrastructure and Creating Jobs
August 30, 2016
Ontario is directing all of the net revenue gains from the sale of Hydro One shares in the 2015 initial public offering to the Trillium Trust to be reinvested in transit, transportation and other priority infrastructure across the province. Ontario remains the largest single shareholder of Hydro One, allowing the province to continue benefiting from income and dividends from its ownership in the company.
The province continued to deliver on its commitment to help people in their everyday lives by announcing in the Speech from the Throne that it would introduce legislation -- which passed later in the sitting -- to help families, farms and small businesses with their electricity bills. The government will also help create 100,000 new licensed child care spaces over five years.
Ensuring Clean Water and Efficient Wastewater Systems
September 14, 2016
Ontario reached an agreement with the federal government to ensure that communities across the province have access to clean and reliable drinking water, efficient wastewater systems, and healthy rivers and lakes. Their investments through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund will support projects by municipalities, First Nations and local services boards that will include stabilizing flood-prone shorelines, replacing aging water mains, and building new water and wastewater treatment plants.
Testing Canada's First High Occupancy Toll Lanes
September 14, 2016
Ontario launched the country's first High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes to help improve traffic flow and manage congestion. Vehicles with at least two occupants can continue to drive for free in the HOT lane on a 16.5-kilometre stretch of the QEW in Oakville and Burlington, while drivers of single-occupant vehicles can apply to purchase a three-month permit for $180.
Making the Shingles Vaccine Free for Seniors
September 15, 2016
Ontario became the first jurisdiction in Canada to make the shingles vaccine available free of charge -- saving eligible seniors about $170 and helping them stay healthy. The government is making the vaccine available across the province for about 850,000 seniors aged 65 to 70 years. Studies show that the vaccine is highly effective when people from 65 to 70 are vaccinated against the painful infection. Shingles, which affects more than 42,000 people per year in Ontario, can cause complications such as loss of vision and debilitating nerve pain.
Building Lasting Legacies from Ontario's 150th Anniversary
September 16, 2016
The government is ensuring that Ontario's 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017 will have a lasting impact by supporting hundreds of community-based projects that will foster social, cultural and economic vitality. The funding will help renovate, repair and retrofit existing community infrastructure, assist communities in celebrating the historic occasion and foster tomorrow's leaders.
Improving Care for People with Dementia
September 21, 2016
The province is developing a comprehensive dementia strategy to address the needs of people with dementia and their care partners. Ontario engaged in community conversations with local organizations; town hall meetings across the province; working groups focused on the stages of dementia and brain health; an advisory group comprising experts, as well as people living with dementia and their care partners. This strategy is part of the government's work to address the needs of an aging population. It will cover key issues such as how best to provide support to help people with dementia live well, ensure access to the right information and services at the right time and co-ordinate care between health care and other service providers.
Creating 100,000 New Licensed Child Care Spaces
September 22, 2016
Ontario will help double the number of child care spaces for children up to the age of four. Adding 100,000 new spaces over five years -- starting with funding for 3,400 in 2016-17 -- will improve access across the province to high-quality, licensed child care. Ontario has also banned fees for child care wait lists.
Releasing Ministers' Priorities for Building Ontario Up for Everyone
September 23, 2016
Premier Wynne released 34 mandate letters directing her new cabinet and their ministries to work together to deliver more inclusive growth, with measures that will help people in their everyday lives. Releasing these to the public increases openness and accountability, and supports the government's plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs.
Making Hospital Parking More Affordable
October 3, 2016
Ontario is reducing a financial burden on patients and their loved ones by cutting hospital parking rates for frequent visitors to hospitals. Hospitals that charge more than $10 per day for parking must now offer discounted passes that effectively cut the daily maximum rates by at least 50 per cent for frequent visitors. Furthermore, all hospitals are currently capping their daily maximum rates until March 2019, providing additional financial relief to all who access hospital parking.
Staying on Track to a Balanced Budget
October 3 and November 14, 2016
The province's annual financial statements showed that Ontario beat its deficit target in 2015-16 for the seventh year in a row. The deficit of $5 billion was $3.5 billion less than what had been projected in the 2015 Budget. And in November the government confirmed in the Fall Economic Statement that it remains committed to balancing the budget in 2017-18 -- and to keep it balanced in 2018-19.
Helping People at Risk of Homelessness Stay in their Homes
October 4, 2016
Ontario is working with municipalities to help families and individuals at risk of homelessness stay in their homes or get the housing they need. The province is increasing funding for local communities to address and prevent homelessness -- and support the province's goal of ending chronic homelessness in Ontario by 2025. This includes programs to provide emergency financial assistance to prevent eviction, access to long-term and transitional housing, and help for people with specific needs finding suitable housing.
Making the Ontario Municipal Board More Efficient and Accessible
October 5, 2016
The government is conducting a comprehensive review of the role of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in the province's land-use planning system. Ontario is considering changes that would allow for more meaningful and affordable public participation; give more weight to local and provincial decisions; support alternative ways to settle disputes; bring fewer municipal and provincial decisions to the OMB; and support clearer and more predictable decision making.
Securing Investments That Create Tech Jobs
October 7, 2016
Ontario's highly skilled workforce, culture of innovation and competitive business climate helped secure a landmark investment from Thomson Reuters. At its new Toronto Technology Centre, the company will create 400 high-quality technology jobs over the next two years -- growing to about 1,500 over time. Thomson Reuters is one of several international companies making major investments in Ontario, including Google; Slack, a technology company based in San Francisco; and Paytm Labs, India's leading mobile Internet company.
Fighting the Opioid Abuse Crisis
October 12, 2016
The government launched a comprehensive strategy to fight opioid misuse -- the third leading cause of accidental death in Ontario. It has brought in stricter controls on prescribing and dispensing fentanyl patches. And it will delist high-strength, long-acting opioids from the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary on January 1, 2017 and introduce new prescribing standards to help prevent the unnecessary dispensing and over-prescribing of pain killers. The province is also making the overdose medication naloxone available for free to patients and their families; and is launching an improved surveillance and reporting system to better respond to opioid overdoses in a timely manner and inform how best to direct care.
Reducing Electricity Costs
October 19, 2016
The legislature passed a bill that will rebate an amount equal to the provincial portion of the HST from electricity bills, an eight per cent savings before tax, as of January 1, 2017. Eligible rural electricity ratepayers will receive additional relief. And over 1,000 additional large energy consumers will be eligible to reduce their electricity costs by up to one-third through the expanded Industrial Conservation Initiative.
Making Voting Easier
October 19, 2016
Ontario passed legislation to make it easier to vote and engage more people in the democratic process. The legislation encourages more young people to vote by allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to join a new provisional register so they will be registered to vote once they turn 18. It moves the scheduled election date from October to June, when warmer weather and longer daylight hours make it easier to get to a polling station. And it allows electronic tabulation so votes can be counted more quickly and accurately.
Working with Québec to Drive Economic Growth
October 21, 2016
At a joint meeting of cabinet ministers in Toronto, Québec and Ontario signed seven agreements to help consumers and create the conditions for businesses to thrive. These included finalizing an agreement for trading electricity, energy capacity and energy storage; working with leading global companies to build a next-generation 5G digital network; creating an electric vehicle charging corridor linking Ontario and Québec; and collaborating to improve the business environment for the forestry sector in both provinces.
Building New Schools
October 24, 2016
Ontario is building 28 new schools in 2016, and expanding and renovating another 23, to support more than 21,000 students across the province as they learn and grow. These high-quality and modern learning environments will better support students' growth and success.
Introducing Wine in Grocery Stores
October 28, 2016
The province is increasing choice and convenience for consumers and supporting wine producers by making wine available on the shelves of up to 70 independent and large grocery stores. Following the introduction of beer in grocery stores last December, up to 130 grocery stores across Ontario can now sell beer and cider, including those that can now sell wine. Ontario is expanding access responsibly, including standard hours of sale and rigorous training for staff. It is also developing a comprehensive alcohol policy to support the safe and responsible consumption of alcohol.
Helping Homeowners Cut Their Energy Bills
October 31, 2016
Ontario is helping to make about 37,000 additional single-family homes more energy efficient by providing rebates for home energy audits and retrofits. Homeowners will be eligible for rebates -- typically in the range of $500 to $2,000 -- toward the cost of energy audits and renovations such as new, energy-efficient furnaces, windows and insulation. The retrofits will help homeowners save on their energy bills year after year and fight climate change.
Protecting Consumers from Predatory Practices
November 3, 2016
Ontario introduced legislation that, if passed, would make it possible to ban unsolicited, door-to-door sales of certain household appliances, including water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners and water filters. The legislation also proposes a licensing system for home inspectors. And it would establish new rules for alternative financial services, such as payday loans, including longer repayment periods, more time between loans and expanded rules against unfair debt-collection practices.
Making Community and School Zones Safer
November 8, 2016
Ontario is working with municipalities to protect schoolchildren, seniors, other pedestrians and cyclists by fighting speeding in community zones and school zones. The government introduced legislation that would, if passed, give municipalities more tools to set speed limits and use automated speed enforcement systems and red light cameras in these types of zones.
Helping Manufacturers Become More Energy Efficient
November 8, 2016
The province is helping small- and medium-sized manufacturers become more energy efficient, reduce their costs and improve their competitiveness. The SMART Green program will enable businesses to invest in equipment and process upgrades such as high-efficiency ovens, dryers, kilns and furnaces.
Assisting First-time Homebuyers -- Fall Economic Statement
November 14, 2016
The government highlighted in the Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review (Fall Economic Statement) its investments in programs, services and supports that help people in their everyday lives. Ontario announced a proposal to help more people buy their first home by doubling the maximum first-time homebuyers refund on the Land Transfer Tax to $4,000, as of January 1, 2017. It also announced $140 million more in funding for hospitals -- beyond the $345-million increase announced in the Budget -- so they can support better care for patients and reduce wait times. And it will introduce legislation to create an independent regulator of financial services and pensions that would improve protections for consumers, investors and pension plan beneficiaries.
Reducing Wait Times for Patients
November 15 and 23, 2016
Ontario's investments in health care are showing measurable results in wait times. Using the median as the indicator, the Fraser Institute reported that in 2016 Ontario recorded the shortest wait time of any province from referral by a GP to treatment -- 15.6 weeks, versus a national median of 20 weeks. Furthermore, Health Quality Ontario found that wait times in emergency rooms are declining in the province. In 2016, nine out of 10 patients waited a maximum of 3 hours in an ER to see a doctor -- a 16 per cent decrease over the past seven years.
Supporting Business Growth and Innovation
November 16, 2016
Ontario is helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow and compete globally through two new programs. The Small Business Innovation Challenge will offer companies an opportunity to develop and test innovative tech solutions to public-sector challenges. And the Scale-up Venture program will help high-growth SMEs reach the next level with funding to help them develop and recruit specialized talent, access new markets and protect their intellectual property.
Making Local Government More Open, Accountable and Flexible
November 16, 2016
Ontario is proposing changes to a number of laws to benefit municipal governments and residents. Ontario recently made changes to require the heads of most regional councils be elected to help ensure they are accountable to the voters, and to allow ranked ballots in municipal elections. The government is also proposing changes to allow people elected to municipal governments time off for pregnancy or parental leave and broadening the investment powers of municipalities to help them finance repairs and replacement of local infrastructure.
Strengthening Ties with Francophone Countries
November 26, 2016
The province is building a stronger presence in the international Francophonie through its new observer status at the Organisation internationale de La Francophonie (OIF). This status reflects the Franco-Ontarian community's integral role in the province's past, present and future, and the government's commitment to protecting and promoting French language and identity. It will lead to new opportunities for collaboration with the OIF's 80 states and governments around the world in areas including culture, education and economic development.
Testing Automated Vehicles
November 28, 2016
Ontario is launching the first automated vehicle (AV) pilot program in Canada. The pilot -- led by the University of Waterloo's Centre for Automotive Research, RV maker Erwin Hymer Group and software developer BlackBerry QNX -- will help position Ontario as a leader in this emerging industry. And it will support groundbreaking technologies that could substantially reduce traffic, improve safety and fuel efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
Transforming Political Fundraising
December 1, 2016
The government passed legislation to make Ontario's election financing system among the strongest and most transparent in Canada. The law bans MPPs, candidates, party leaders, nomination contestants, leadership contestants and many political staff from attending political fundraising events; bans corporations, unions and other groups not affiliated with political parties from making political donations; and reduces the cap on individual donations by almost 90 per cent.
Protecting Children and Students
December 5, 2016
Ontario passed legislation that makes the disciplinary process for the province's educators more clear and transparent. This will improve the Ontario College of Teachers' investigation and disciplinary processes by ensuring a teacher's certificate is automatically revoked if he or she has been found guilty of sexual abuse or acts relating to child pornography. It also requires employers, including school boards, to inform the college when they have restricted a teacher's duties or dismissed the teacher for professional misconduct; allows the college to share information with the employer if the subject of a complaint poses an immediate risk to a student or child; requires the college to publish all decisions from its disciplinary committee; and improves timelines for investigating and considering complaints.
Helping Refugees Get Off to a Good Start
December 6, 2016
Ontario is continuing to welcome and support refugees from around the world as they settle and build new lives here. The province is collaborating with federal and municipal governments, as well as community partners, on refugee settlement and integration. Since December 2015, more than 14,000 Syrian refugees have found safety and a new start in Ontario. Provincial funding of more than $10 million includes support for language training and employment training. More than 5,500 adults have received language assessments and are currently participating in free language training.
Improving the Patient Experience
December 7, 2016
The government is increasing access for patients and their families to health care that is better coordinated, and culturally and linguistically appropriate. The Patients First Act, 2016, will help ensure patients are at the centre of the health care system. The legislation will improve access to primary care, improve local connections and communication between health care providers, strengthen the voices of patients and families, and give the 14 Local Health Integration Networks an expanded role, including in primary care, and home and community care.
Helping People Facing Employment Barriers to Get Construction Jobs
December 7, 2016
The government finalized an agreement to help people from disadvantaged communities along the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit corridor get construction jobs on one of the largest transit construction projects in Canada. Ontario and its partners in this agreement set a goal that 10 per cent of all trade and crafting hours needed for the project will be performed by apprentices and journey persons who live along the transit corridor and have had trouble finding jobs. This will be a model for several other transit projects.
Clarifying the Rules on Medical Assistance in Dying
December 7, 2016
The government introduced legislation to provide more protection and greater clarity on how medical assistance in dying (MAID) will be implemented in Ontario. The federal MAID law, which guides how medical assistance in dying is provided in Canada, came into effect in June. Ontario's legislation, if passed, would ensure benefits such as insurance payouts and workplace safety benefits are not denied only because of a medically assisted death; health care professionals and those who assist them are protected from civil liability when lawfully providing MAID; and health care providers and facilities that provide MAID have their privacy protected.
Preventing Sexual Abuse of Patients
December 8, 2016
Ontario introduced legislation to make a number of improvements to the health care system to protect patients and keep them healthy. If passed, this would include reinforcing the zero-tolerance policy on patient sexual abuse by any regulated health professional. The legislation would expand the acts of sexual abuse that would result in the mandatory revocation of a professional's certificate of registration; stop the use of gender-based restrictions altogether; and increase timely access to therapy and counselling for patients making a complaint of sexual abuse by a regulated health professional.
Reforming the Child Welfare System
December 8, 2016
Ontario is proposing major changes to the child welfare system that would put children at the centre of decision-making. If passed, the legislation would raise the age of protection from 16 to 18 to increase protection services for youth in unsafe living conditions, support their education, and reduce homelessness and human trafficking. It would also strengthen the focus on early intervention to help prevent children and families from reaching crisis situations at home; make child welfare services more culturally appropriate, including for Indigenous and Black children and youth; and improve oversight of service providers such as children's aid societies so children and youth receive consistent, high-quality services across Ontario.
Setting Stricter Rules on Bottled Water Companies
December 16, 2016