Billed as a “first step” by Ontario’s finance minister, Rod Phillips unveiled the government’s $17-billion aid package as the province continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The government announced several measures aimed at helping residents, businesses, and the health care sector.
Phillips tabled Ontario’s economic and fiscal update at Queen’s Park on Wednesday. The total package contains $7 billion in direct support to various communities and entities as well as $10 billion in business tax and other tax-related deferrals.
Here are the highlights of the investments made by the Ontario government in its update:
- $2.5 billion reserve “to provide continued flexibility to respond to changing global circumstances”
- $1 billion COVID-19 contingency fund to respond to “emerging needs”
- $935 million aimed at addressing hospital capacity issues as well as for ICU/critical care beds, equipment, COVID assessment centres
- $124 million for transitional projects (moving less severe hospital patients to other settings to free up hospital capacity)
- $243 million for emergency long-term care home capacity and virus containment
- $160 million for public health units for COVID-19 monitoring, lab testing, virtual care and TeleHealth Ontario
- $75 million for personal protective equipment for frontline staff
- $80 million for paramedics
- $70 million for new infection control measures at retirement homes, shelters, residential care facilities
- $100 million for skills training for workers impacted by COVID-19
- Previously announced job-protected leave for employees in isolation, quarantine and those caring for children
- $6 billion in provincial business tax interest and penalty relief for five months
- $355 million for a temporary increase in Employer Health Tax exemption (companies with less than $1 million will be exempt from paying, estimated to help 57,000 businesses)
- 10 per cent corporate tax credit for regions with “lagging employment growth
- $1.9 billion for the deferral of WSIB premiums for up to six months
- $1.5 billion increase in electricity relief
- Previously announced changing time-of-use rate prices to the lowest rate for 45 days
- Expansion of the low income energy assistance program’s eligibility and ensuring no disconnections for nonpayment
Parents and students
- $340 million for one-time payments of $200 for each child 12 and under, $250 for each child 12 and under with special needs
- Doubling of guaranteed annual income system payments for low-income seniors
- New coordination of meal and medicine deliveries
Post-secondary education debt
- OSAP repayments suspended for six months
- $26 million in emergency assistance for urban Indigenous communities
- $1.8 billion to pay for the three-month deferral of property tax payments municipalities are required make to school boards for three months
- Municipalities urged, but not required, to provide deferrals to municipal taxpayers
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