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Ontario Making Life More Affordable at Every Stage

Archived Backgrounder

Ontario Making Life More Affordable at Every Stage

Office of the Premier

Whether you're filling your first prescription, earning your first paycheque, buying your first home or securing your retirement, Ontario is making life more affordable for people at all stages of life and in all parts of the province.

First Steps and Early Years 

OHIP+

Ontario is the first province to provide free drug coverage to all children and youth under the age of 25, saving families the high cost of life-saving drugs. More than 4,400 drugs are covered, including asthma inhalers, diabetes test strips, birth control and many others. Since the program began on January 1, over one million people have already benefited from having access to free prescription medications.

Improved Access to Fertility Treatments

Established in 2015, the Ontario Fertility Program is helping people start and grow their families by providing funding for fertility procedures such as in vitro fertilization. This program has expanded access to an estimated 4,000 more in vitro fertilization patients each year.

Ontario's Publicly Funded Immunization Program

Ontario's immunization program covers 16 routinely recommended vaccines, saving families as much as $2,700 per person on otherwise costly vaccines.

Safeguarding Against Influenza

Anyone in Ontario over the age of six months can get the flu shot free of charge, keeping families healthy. Each influenza season, people across Ontario are encouraged to protect themselves and their families by getting the flu vaccine.

Nourishing Tummies and Minds

Ontario's Student Nutrition Program helps provide healthy nutritious breakfasts, snacks and lunches to more than 800,000 school-aged kids across the province each school year, saving families time and money.

Healthy Smiles Ontario

Saves low-income families the cost of dental care by giving Ontario children under 17 free preventative, routine and emergency dental services.

Ontario Child Benefit (OCB)

Helps low- to moderate-income families with the cost of raising children. About one million children and youth in over 500,000 families receive the OCB, with a maximum payment of $1,378 per child per year.

Removing Barriers to Adoption

Reduces the financial burden on parents who want to build their families through adoption or legal custody by introducing targeted subsidies. Families meeting the financial eligibility criteria could receive subsidies up to $1,035 (per month and per child), when they adopt or take legal custody of two or more children who are siblings or are age eight or older, who are in the permanent care of a society (i.e. Crown wards).

Making Child Support Fairer

The province is ensuring that families receiving child support now benefit fully from these payments without their social assistance being reduced. This has meant an average of $282 more each month in child support payments to eligible families receiving social assistance.

Learning and Growing

Expanded Access to Licensed Child Care

Ontario is making affordable child care more accessible by committing $1.6 billion in capital funding over five years to create 45,000 new licensed child care spaces -- part of a pledge to give over 100,000 more children in Ontario aged four and under access to quality care. As part of the commitment to increased access to affordable child care, families across Ontario will receive more financial support, and subsidies will be available for approximately 60 per cent of new child care spaces.

Transforming OSAP

Since 2017, Ontario made post-secondary education more accessible and affordable by making tuition free for more than 225,000 university and college students. Students whose families earn up to $175,000 are also benefitting from more generous, non-repayable grants.

Open Textbook

Saving students and families money on the high cost of textbooks with an investment of $1 million in free online textbooks and educational resources for students. The Open Textbooks Initiative was developed in partnership with eCampusOntario, and has saved Ontario students and their families nearly $520,000 since fall 2017.

Making OSAP Loan Repayment More Flexible

Single students will not have to start repaying the Ontario portion of their student loans until they are earning a minimum of $35,000 a year, a $10,000 increase from the previous minimum of $25,000.

Living and Learning Grant

This grant provides $2,000 per semester during the school year to youth between the ages of 21 to 25 who received or were eligible to receive Continued Care and Support for Youth, and adopted Crown Wards between the ages of 18 and 25 who were adopted on or after August 1, 2013. Eligible youth are automatically considered for this grant when they submit an OSAP Application for Full-Time Students.

Continued Care and Support for Youth (CCSY) program

This program provides youth 18-21 years old, who are leaving the care of a Children's Aid Society with $850 a month to help them meet their goals during their transition to adulthood. Through CCSY, youth also have access to non-financial support and guidance through Children's Aid Societies to help them achieve physical and emotional well-being, acquire basic life management skills and develop social networks that include connections to caring adults and the community. Through the CCSY, youth also become eligible for a number of supports once they transition out of care (e.g., the Living and Learning Grant)

Fun Pass

The Fun Pass is an annual program that provides elementary school-aged children with free admission during the summer, with a paying adult or senior, to a number of provincial attractions such as the Royal Ontario Museum, the Ontario Science Centre, Science North and Huronia Historical Parks. In 2017, Ontario expanded the pass to provide free admission to two children with one paying adult or senior.

Getting Around

Hospital Parking Directive

Ontario is reducing a financial burden on patients and their loved ones by requiring hospitals that charge more than $10 per day for parking to offer discounted passes that effectively cut the daily maximum rates for frequent visitors by at least 50 per cent. This program helps hundreds of thousands of people across Ontario save money from parking fees when visiting loved ones in hospital.

More Affordable UP Express Fares

Ontario lowered fares on the UP Express in February 2016, making travel between Union Station and Pearson Airport more affordable. At the same time, fares for people travelling to and from the Bloor and Weston communities match GO fares, making commuting within the city cheaper.

Eliminated the $30 Drive Clean test fee

Eliminated the $30 Drive Clean test fee for light-duty vehicles, such as most cars, vans, SUVs and light trucks to save people money and make it easier for owners to ensure their vehicles are running efficiently with minimum emissions.

Fare Integration

In October 2017, Ontario lowered the cost of commuting for people and families in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area by discounting the TTC fare by 50 percent for millions of PRESTO users who transfer between GO Transit or the Union Pearson Express (UP Express) and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). This could save up to $720 every year for those whose regular commute includes transfers between the GO, UP Express and the TTC.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Incentive Program

Ontario is making electric vehicles more affordable by providing financial incentives to applicants when they purchase or lease an eligible new EV. Up to $160 million is available through this program.

Putting Down Roots

Fair Housing Plan

Ontario's Fair Housing Plan, introduced in 2017, is a comprehensive set of measures to make finding a place to call home more affordable, while bringing stability to the marketplace. This includes a 15 per cent Non-Resident Speculation Tax, an expansion of rent control, and more protections for renters and landlords, while also encouraging the development of more affordable housing in Ontario.

Land Transfer Tax

As part of Ontario's Fair Housing Plan, the province is making it easier for more people to purchase their first home by doubling the maximum Land Transfer Tax refund for eligible first-time homebuyers to $4,000. This means eligible homebuyers in Ontario pay no Land Transfer Tax on the first $368,000 of the cost of their first home.

Fair Hydro Plan

Ontario's Fair Hydro Plan, launched in summer 2017, saves Ontario families money by lowering electricity bills for households by 25 per cent on average. This single largest rate reduction in Ontario's history builds on previously announced initiatives to deliver broad-based savings on all electricity bills.

Helping People SaveONenergy

Established by the government to operate Ontario's electricity system, the Independent Electricity System Operator offers a range of energy conservation savings initiatives for consumers under the SaveONenergy banner. This includes rebates and deal days that provide discounts on a wide range of energy-efficient products.

Making Energy Efficient Upgrades Cheaper

Ontario is making it more affordable for people to upgrade their homes to reduce pollution, lower emissions, and save money on energy costs. The GreenON rebates could mean savings of up to $7,200 off new insulation, up to $5,000 off window replacements, or up to $20,000 to install a certified ground source heat pump.

Helping Families with the Ontario Property and Energy Tax Credit

Ontario is lowering the cost of living for many low- to moderate-income families through the Property and Energy Tax Credit. This credit helps families with payment of property taxes and the sales tax on energy, which for many could mean a credit of up to $1,042 in 2018, and up to $1,187 for seniors. For those living on a reserve or in a public long-term care facility, the credit could be as much as $232, helping to offset living costs.

Home Energy Audits and Retrofits

The government is enhancing existing home energy audit and retrofit programs to help homeowners reduce energy costs. Around 37,000 eligible homeowners could receive rebates between $500 and $2,000.

The Ontario Northern Energy Credit

Ontario is helping families in the north save by lowering the higher energy costs that they face. The Ontario Northern Energy Credit delivers up to $232 to families each year, or as much as $151 to single residents in the north.

Remote Communities Allowance

Ontario increased the Remote Communities Allowance by $50 for the first individual and $25 for each additional family member. This provides extra support to people living in remote and northern communities to help address the unique challenges they face.

The Northern Health Travel Grant

Ontario increased the Northern Health Travel Grant by $10 million to help people travelling long distances access specialized medical care. Additional funding provides an enhanced accommodation allowance to cover more than one night's stay away from home so that the cost of travel doesn't impede access to high quality health care.

A Hand Up

Basic Income

The government launched a three-year Basic Income Pilot in 2017 to test how to better support workers in a rapidly changing economy, improve health and education outcomes for people, and ensure that everyone shares in Ontario's economic growth. Four thousand people from Hamilton, Brantford, Brant County, Lindsay, and Thunder Bay and surrounding area will benefit from participating in the pilot.

The Ontario Sales Tax Credit

As part of the Trillium Benefit, the Ontario Sales Tax Credit makes life more affordable for low- to moderate-income people in Ontario -- in some cases, even if they do not owe income tax. Eligible people and their children can receive up to $301 in the 2018 benefit year.

Assistive Devices Program

The government helps hundreds of thousands of people in Ontario save money every year by providing financial assistance for 8,000 assistive devices or supplies, including home oxygen, respiratory equipment, insulin pumps, orthotic devices, limb prostheses and ostomy supplies, hearing aids, wheelchairs and walkers. In 2016-2017 the program provided funding to 354,235 Ontario residents.

Reloadable ODSP Payment Card

Ontario introduced a reloadable payment card that makes it unnecessary for individuals receiving ODSP to rely on expensive cheque-cashing services or carry cash.

Trillium Drug Program

Relieves the financial burden for people across the province who spend approximately three to four per cent of their after-tax household income on prescription drugs, by cutting their cost substantially after a deductible, and helping those who need long-term supplies of drugs to treat chronic conditions.

Aging With Dignity

Enhanced Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

Ontario played a leading role in achieving an enhancement to the CPP so that it better meets the retirement savings needs of today's workers. The CPP enhancement will significantly improve the retirement security and future quality of life of many of today's workers, particularly those without workplace pension plans, by providing them with a meaningful, lifelong increase in their retirement income.

Expanded Health Services

Through the Ontario Drug Benefit program, Ontario helps seniors save money every day on over 4,400 prescription drugs. The Ontario Drug Benefit program makes life more affordable by lowering the price seniors pay for prescription drugs to as little as a few dollars.

Free Shingles Vaccine

Starting January 1, 2017 Ontario  made life easier and healthier for seniors between the ages of 65 and 70, by providing a free shingles vaccine, a savings of approximately $170 per person. Approximately 850,000 seniors between the ages of 65 and 70 are eligible to receive the publicly funded shingles vaccine.

Making Homeownership Affordable for Ontario Seniors

Ontario is making life more affordable for low-to moderate-income seniors across the province who own homes, through a Homeowner Property Tax Grant worth up to $500 for eligible applicants.

Seniors Travel Assistance

Starting July 1, 2017, Ontario cut transit costs for seniors with a refundable tax credit that could save seniors up to $450 every year, allowing them to get around more affordably on conventional and specialized public transit services.

Seniors Community Grant Program

Ontario is investing $2 million as part of a program to support not-for-profit community projects that increase volunteerism, social inclusion and community engagement for seniors.

Caring For Loved Ones

Ontario is making it easier for people who care for loved ones with a new, streamlined Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit. This new non-refundable tax credit streamlines and extends support for people caring for unwell relatives. This credit means savings of up to $242 every year and joins a range of other measures the government has taken to make life more affordable for caregivers.

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