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Finance Minister Charles Sousa recently released the 2017 Ontario Budget: A Stronger, Healthier Ontario, which includes significant investments in health care and education. This is Ontario’s first balanced budget since the global recession.
MPP Dave Levac celebrates the most significant announcement of this budget, which launches OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare, a new drug benefit program that fully covers the cost of prescription medications for everyone aged 24 and under, regardless of family income. This program — the first of its kind in Canada — will ensure that children and young adults have access to universal drug coverage.
Another healthcare highlight that MPP Levac has advocated for throughout his political career is the development of a dementia strategy for the aging population of Brant. Ontario’s new Dementia Strategy will provide more than $100 million over three years to support people with dementia and those who care for them through better coordinated and enhanced services. The strategy will help patients and their caregivers find and access the most appropriate care and supports and improve training and education in dementia care for personal support workers, physicians, nurses and other front‐line workers.
The Province is also expanding home and community care programs, including home nursing, personal support and physiotherapy services, with an additional investment of $250 million this year. Family and friends caring for loved ones will be better supported through access to respite care, education and training, and a new Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit.
Education will receive new funding in this budget with an additional investment of $6.4 billion over three years. The Province continues to construct new schools and renew existing ones to create nurturing environments where children can learn and grow. Additionally, the Province’s investments are ensuring that all school boards move to an average class size in Grades 4 to 8 of fewer than 25 students.
The government is rolling out the new Ontario Student Assistance Program, which means free tuition for more than 210,000 students in post-secondary education starting this fall. OSAP debt repayment rules will be eased as well. Starting in January 2018, students will only be required to pay back loans when their income levels reach $35,000 per year.
Six Nations Polytechnic Aboriginal Institute in Ohsweken: The Bachelor of Arts degree in Ogwehoweh (Cayuga and Mohawk) Languages at this Aboriginal institute started in January 2016. The Province is investing about $200 million over three years to support key initiatives that will help more First Nation, Métis and Inuit learners access high-quality postsecondary education and training opportunities. This includes an investment of $56 million over three years to enhance the capacity and sustainability of nine publicly funded Aboriginal Institutes in Ontario.
Six Nations of the Grand River: The government is helping 100,000 more children access affordable, quality licensed child care to give them the best start in life and support families across Ontario. The government will expand existing child and family programs offered on Six Nations of the Grand River.
GreenMantra: This Brantford based producer of high-value waxes from recycled plastics, received an investment from the Investment Accelerator Fund, and was recently named as one of the world’s top cleantech companies in the 2017 Global Cleantech 100 List.
“With this budget, the Province is continuing to implement policies to ensure equity and affordability for the people of Ontario. Pharma-care for children and youth will be free, tuition will be free for families with incomes of less than $50,000 this fall, and housing measures are in place for rent control and a foreign’s buyer tax. Investments into education and healthcare are significant and I am especially thrilled to see the inclusion of a Dementia Strategy of $100 million in this budget. I am confident the lives of the people of Brant will improve with this budget.”
—MPP Dave Levac
- The Province’s investment in public infrastructure of more than $190 billion over a 13-year period, which started in 2014–15, is the largest infrastructure investment in the province’s history. It is supporting projects such as building child care spaces, schools, hospitals, public transit, highways and roads.
- Over the last three years, Ontario’s real GDP growth has outpaced that of all G7 countries. Exports and business investments are increasing, household incomes are rising and the unemployment rate continues to decline — and has been below the national average for 24 consecutive months.
- Employment in 2017 is forecast to increase by 1.3 per cent, or 94,000 net new jobs, following 1.1 per cent growth in 2016. These gains are expected to continue at 1.1 per cent annually, on average, from 2018–20. This would result in 900,000 net new jobs created between 2010 and 2020, the majority in industries that pay above-average wages, in the private sector and in full-time positions.
For the Silo, Esther Gibbs.