NORTH DURHAM: Spending on infrastructure improvements and employment programs is set to rise in Ontario, along with debt levels following the release of the latest Provincial budget by Finance Minister Charles Sousa last week.
A primary piece of the budget is a 10-year $130-billion infrastructure plan, which includes $49.8 billion for transit, highways, and bridges in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the largest infrastructure investment in Ontario’s history. According to a press release from Durham MPP Granville Anderson, Durham Region will receive a portion of approximately $16 billion.
Motorists may also see reductions in car insurance rates, with interest on monthly car insurance to fall from three per cent to 1.3 per cent. As well, companies will now be mandated to offer a reduction for those with snow tires, and forgiveness for minor at-fault collisions.
The Liberal government continues to put money into job creation in their latest budget, with the province increasing funding for the 10-year $2.5 billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund, as well as continued funding for the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy and apprenticeship grants.
There was also plenty of news regarding beer, with a new three cents a litre beer tax kicking in this November, and continuing for the next three years, which the government says will bring in an extra $100 million. As well, the first beer sales in Ontario grocery stores is expected later this year.
"From ensuring access to all-day kindergarten for our youngest learners, to supporting Ontario's skilled tradespeople and building the infrastructure we know we need, Ontario is making the much needed investments to help build Durham and all of Ontario up," said MPP Anderson.
However, the budget is not all good news, with Ontario’s $284 billion debt rising to close to $300 billion. Interest payments are expected to rise to $11.4 billion, the fourth-highest expenditure in the province behind health, education and children's and social services.
The Liberal government came under fire from opposition MPPs for this latest increase in Ontario’s debt, which currently sits at more than $20,000 per resident.
“There is no plan to deal with the debt - it is just going up and up,” commented interim Ontario PC leader Jim Wilson.
As well, all program expenditures are slated to be cut by 5.5 per cent, with the exception health-care and education, which will receive modest increases, albeit below the two per cent level of inflation, leading to criticism from opposition MPPs.
“Ontarians didn't vote for this. They did not vote for a plan that fires nurses, closes schools and weakens social services,” argued Ontario NDP Andrea Horwath.