Highlights From Ontario’s 2018 Fall Economic Statement

Provincial Finance Minister Vic Fedeli set the stage for an austerity budget next spring with an interim financial statement that, as promised, begins to address the deficit while putting more money in the pockets of Ontarians.

Starting the road back to balance will not be easy. Fedeli said: “Everyone across the province will be required to make sacrifices, without exception.”

On the upside, he said the government has achieved $3.2 billion in savings to date and generated $2.7 billion in tax cuts for Ontario families and individuals, reducing the budget deficit by $500 million to $14.5 billion. No timeline was given to balance the budget.

Here’s our key takeaways from the Ford government’s first Fall Economic Statement:

1. Rent Control – In a move to spur construction and improve rental capacity, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area, all new buildings will no longer have rent control. Current controls will be maintained for existing rental units.

2. Northern Ontario – The government will work directly with First Nations partners to develop Ring of Fire resources in northern Ontario. The government will also make use of private-public partnerships to extend natural gas and broadband networks for remote Northern communities.

3. Health care – The health sector will see an investment in 6,000 new long-term care beds, with 9,000 new beds “in the pipeline,” and $90 million in spending to add 1,100 new beds in hospitals during flu season. As well, Fedeli restated the previous commitment to spend $1.9 billon over 10 years on mental health.

4. Income Tax – Introducing “LIFT” — the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax Credit. Most low income earners making less than $30,000 per year will pay no income tax.

5. Open for Business – Red tape affecting Ontario’s small businesses will be cut by 25 per cent by 2020, taxes on small business will see a reduction, and a promise was made that other actions are on the way to ensure Ontario is open for business.

6. Three Officers Are Out – Three provincial legislative officers have been eliminated – the Environmental Commissioner, the Child and Youth Advocate and French Language Services Commissioner. But, Fedeli stressed early in the statement that the scope and mandate of Ontario’s Auditor General and Ombudsman are set to expand.

7. Pipelines – Ontario will also unilaterally relinquish veto over oil transport and new pipeline construction within the province’s borders. Ontario will “lead by example to further national interests” and get pipelines built.

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