A Plan to Build Ontario Together - FES 2019
The Ontario Government has released its 2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, A Plan to Build Ontario Together. This is the first economic update tabled by Ontario’s new Minister of Finance, the Honourable Rod Phillips.
Noteworthy is that the Province’s current 2019-2020 deficit outlook is now pegged at $9 billion, a $1.3 billion reduction from the target set out in the 2019 Budget. The Province continues to reiterate its commitment to balancing the budget by 2023. Additionally, the Province highlighted that since June 2018, Ontario’s unemployment rate is near historical lows and more than 272,000 new net jobs have been created. The Province has also earmarked an additional $1.3 billion towards critical services such as health care, education, child care and social programs.
The 2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, aptly named A Plan to Build Ontario Together, is a plan built around 6 key themes:
- A plan to make life more affordable
- A plan to prepare people for jobs
- A plan to create a more competitive business environment
- A plan to connect people to places
- A plan to build healthier and safer communities
- A plan to make government smarter
While there are similarities between the 2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review to the 2019 Budget, the document tabled resembles a traditional fall economic statement much more than the ‘mini-budget’ these updates have tended to be modeled after in recent years. Focusing on the six key themes highlighted above, it’s clear the Ford Government is trying to recalibrate their message from their first year and change in power. Each of these six themes align closely with the respective mandates of the Ford Government’s strongest Cabinet Ministers, perhaps signalling a return to the Premier emphasizing his strong team over self.
Some of the key highlights emphasized throughout the 2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review are as follows.
A plan to make life more affordable
- Ontario plans on helping people and families by tackling Ontario’s housing affordability challenge.
- There is a new focus on making life more affordable in Ontario’s North by cutting the aviation fuel tax rate by 4 cents per litre.
- The government plans to support low‑income workers with employment income, including those earning minimum wage with the Low‐income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit.
- The government will allow free access for Children to attractions, Museums, galleries and historic sites.
A plan to prepare people for jobs
- The government is establishing a new streamlined and modernized ministry-led delivery model to address challenges in how the skilled trades are regulated and the high membership fees that apprentices and journeypersons had to pay.
- The province will focus on preparing students for successful careers by renewing its focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields as well as the skilled trades.
- To increase accountability, the government is introducing an outcomes-based funding model as part of negotiating new Strategic Mandate Agreements with publicly assisted colleges and universities. The government is linking 60 per cent of operating funding to performance outcomes by the 2024–25 academic year.
A plan to create a more competitive business environment
- The government is proposing to reduce the small business Corporate Income Tax rate to 3.2 per cent from 3.5 per cent, starting January 1, 2020 — fulfilling the promise to cut Ontario’s small business tax rate by 8.7 per cent.
- To encourage businesses across the province to make investments, such as machinery upgrades or expansions, the Province is paralleling federal measures that allow businesses to accelerate write-offs of capital investments.
A plan to connect people to places
- Ontario is modernizing GO Transit by moving forward with the next stage of the GO Rail Expansion program to provide two-way, all-day GO transit service every 15 minutes on the network’s core segments.
- The government’s plan includes four new subway projects with a total estimated preliminary project cost of $28.5 billion: the Yonge North Subway Extension, the three-stop Scarborough Subway Extension, the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension and the new Ontario Line.
A plan to build healthier and safer communities
- Ontario is increasing health care spending by $1.9 billion in 2019–20.
- This includes an additional $68 million this year to support small and medium-sized and multi-site hospitals to help maintain critical capacity and respond to increased demand in communities across the province.
- Ontario is supporting children with autism by investing an additional $278.5 million in the province’s autism programs, bringing the total funding to $600 million annually, the most funding per capita of any jurisdiction in Canada.
A plan to make government smarter
- Ontario is building a modern, centralized procurement system projected to generate savings of $1 billion annually and make it easier for companies of all sizes to do business with the Province.
- The government is also exploring new non-tax revenue generating opportunities, such as advertising and naming rights for GO stations.
- The government has established a Value Creation Task Force to identify and review innovative opportunities to generate recurring non-tax revenues.
Between the release of the 2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review and next year's budget, look for the Ford Government to continue to push these six key themes as the building blocks for their plan to rebuild Ontario.
Specifically, watch for these key Ministers to be front and centre in both the media and Question Period championing their respective plans as the Government continues to try and change the tone in their sophomoric year in power:
- Finance Minister Rod Phillips - A plan to make life more affordable
- Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton - A plan to prepare people for jobs
- Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Minister Vic Fedeli and Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria - A plan to create a more competitive business environment
- Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney - A plan to connect people to places
- Health Minister Christine Elliott - A plan to build healthier and safer communities
- Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy - A plan to make government smarter