TORONTO — The Ontario government will continue to focus on protecting people’s health and jobs through the COVID-19 pandemic when Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board, releases the 2021 Ontario Budget on March 24. The Budget will support the province’s comprehensive vaccine distribution plan, along with providing additional resources for the health care sector and initiatives to protect the economic well-being of families, workers and employers.
“Our focus has got to be protecting health and jobs today,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy.
“Even though the light at the end of the tunnel shines brighter with each person that is vaccinated, we are going to take nothing for granted. This caution is necessary to save lives. And it’s also necessary for our economic and fiscal recovery, because as I often say, without healthy people, you can’t have a healthy economy. So, we’ll defeat the virus by working together. And when we do, our collective efforts will turn to unleashing the growth that we are going to count on for a strong recovery.”
Since the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, Ontario has invested an additional $2.6 billion to protect and support people’s health and economic well-being, which includes:
Launching Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy and administering nearly one million vaccines as of March 10, 2021
Making more than $1 billion in payments to small businesses that were required to close or significantly restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, with grants starting from $10,000 up to $20,000
Investing over $115 million to train up to 8,200 new personal support workers (PSWs) for high-demand jobs in Ontario’s health and long-term care sectors by fall 2021
Increasing investments by $869 million for the hospital sector for supplies and equipment to address the surge in COVID-19 cases, including testing, swabs, saliva tubes and test kits, bringing the total increase in funding to hospitals since 2019-20 to $3.4 billion.
Expanding eligibility for the Main Street Relief Grant to include small businesses with 2-19 employees, including those in the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, to help offset the costs of purchasing personal protective equipment with up to $1,000 in financial support.
Expanding Ontario’s Support for Learners program to include students aged 13 through to Grade 12
Providing $398 million in additional support to respond to the impact of COVID-19 in the long-term care sector, which includes continued prevention and containment measures and more funding to support implementation of testing guidelines.
Governments across Canada and around the world have faced unprecedented uncertainty due to COVID-19. To ensure Ontario can respond quickly to changing circumstances, the government’s budget plan built in historic levels of flexible, time-limited funding and extraordinary contingencies of $13.3 billion in 2020-21. The 2020-21 Third Quarter Finances showed that these funds were fully allocated in the third quarter.