Today, Ontario passed the Building Ontario Up Act (Budget Measures), supporting the largest infrastructure investment in Ontario’s history, which will create jobs, grow the economy and attract investments in communities across the province. The 2015 Budget bill passed after extensive consultation with stakeholders, organizations and individuals, including three times the average number of committee hearing days for budget bills over the last 25 years.
The 2015 Budget includes the government’s plan to invest more than $130 billion over 10 years to build key long-term transportation and other infrastructure projects. This historic infrastructure investment will help grow regional economies throughout Ontario and is expected to support more than 110,000 jobs per year, on average, in construction and related industries.
The unprecedented infrastructure investment is supported by unlocking the value of provincial assets, including broadening the ownership of Hydro One, reforming Ontario’s beverage alcohol system and selling real estate holdings such as the LCBO head office lands as well as Ontario Power Generation’s head office building in downtown Toronto, its Seaton lands and the former Lakeview generation station property.
The government’s asset optimization strategy has resulted in an increase in projected dedicated funding that will be made available for public transit, transportation and other priority infrastructure projects across the province through the Moving Ontario Forward initiative to $31.5 billion. The distribution of funding is per capita, based on Statistics Canada data, for inside and outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). This means, for example, that funds raised from the residents of Thunder Bay won’t be spent on infrastructure in downtown Toronto.
Every dollar of the net proceeds from the sale of qualifying, provincially-owned assets will be placed in the Trillium Trust and will be used to fund infrastructure investments under the Moving Ontario Forward plan. This includes investments such as the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund, rapid transit improvements in the GTHA, the Connecting Links Program and support for infrastructure to help communities access natural gas.
The 2015 Budget includes other significant investments to further benefit Ontario families and enhance Ontario’s job market, including:
Renewing the Youth Jobs Strategy by investing an additional $250 million over the next two years, including investing an additional $23 million over two years in the Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund to deliver relevant, high-quality apprenticeship programs.
Enhancing the Jobs and Prosperity Fund by $200 million to attract more business investments.
Committing to ongoing Northern Electricity Rate program funding to continue to grow Ontario’s Northern economy, vital to the success of the province.
The 2015 Ontario Budget advances the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic and innovative environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.
Ontario will invest more than $750 million over the next three years to support people of all ages who require care in their home or in their community.
Budget measures include modernizing the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to strengthen financial assistance for students.
The maximum annual Ontario Child Benefit per child will rise to $1,336 in July 2015, as a result of indexing to inflation for the first time.
Ontario plans to provide almost $900 million over 10 years to address critical maintenance repairs and upgrades to existing postsecondary facilities.
Ontario has recovered all of the jobs lost in the global economic recession and created over 500,000 net new jobs since the recessionary low in 2009.