Today the Hon. Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, delivered the 2018 Ontario Budget: “A Plan for Care and Opportunity.”

The 2018 Budget makes significant new investments in health care, child care, home care and mental health, and delivers new measures to create more job opportunities for people across the province. It also deliver focuses on initiatives to make life more affordable and provide greater financial security during a time of rapid economic change.

Ontario’s economy is getting stronger, with the unemployment rate at its lowest in almost two decades. Yet between the rising cost of living and stable, long-term jobs becoming harder to find, many people are struggling to take care of themselves and their families.

As the changing economy widens the gaps within our society, the government has a plan to build a fairer, better Ontario by supporting everyone in the province with the care and opportunity they need to get ahead.

Highlights include:

  • Investing $935 million in the Good Jobs and Growth Plan over the next three years to support businesses, invest in students and graduates, and help attract good, well-paying jobs.
  • Making preschool child care free for children aged 2.5 yrs until they are eligible for kindergarten, saving a family with one child $17,000, on average.
  • Making prescriptions completely free for everyone 65 and over, in addition to everyone under the age of 25, through OHIP+, giving nearly one in two people in Ontario has access to free medications.
  • Introducing a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program, which will reimburse up to 80 per cent of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses each year for those without workplace health benefits or not covered by government programs like OHIP+.

Good Jobs and Growth Plan:
The government’s Good Jobs and Growth Plan builds upon the Province’s successful economic and skills agenda of the past 10 years — updating that agenda to reflect the realities of the rapidly changing times, taking into consideration an ever‐evolving global economy and leveraging the work of the government’s Global Trade Strategy.

Through this plan, Ontario will build upon and strengthen its economic foundations, support the development of local talent and entrepreneurs, and encourage the growth of businesses while ensuring that more people across the province benefit from economic growth and prosperity.

Improving Business Competitiveness:
Ontario’s economy continues to be strong. But to succeed in a rapidly changing global economic environment, the Province needs to be proactive by supporting investments that make business operations more competitive and efficient, and that put the skills of Ontario workers to good use. That is why the province is taking steps such as:

Expanding support for Regional Economic Development:

  • Investing an additional $100 million over the next 10 years in the Eastern Ontario Development Fund and theSouthwestern Ontario Development Fund, aiming to create and retain approximately 19,000 jobs and attract more than $800 million in investments
  • Creating a new Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Fund to support small and medium sized businesses in the GTHA, with an initial investment of $100 million over 10 years.
  • An additional $5 million investment in the Communities in Transition Fund this fund to help regions develop economic plans and build upon their regional strengths and assets.

Renewing, enhancing and extending the Jobs and Prosperity Fund (JPF) with an increase of $900 million over the next 10 years, for a total of $3.2 billion in support since 2014–15.

  • $85 million to creating a new Venture Technologies Fund to help high-potential, fast-growing startups scale-up and leverage their talent.

Strengthening research and innovation tax credits for businesses to encourage companies, especially small businesses to help them grow.

Modernizing the microbrewer definition and the Small Beer Manufacturer’s Tax Credit to ensure that small beer manufacturers and microbrewers continue to have incentives to grow.

Championing Women’s Economic Empowerment:
Ontario will implement its three-year Women’s Economic Empowerment Strategy to ensure women have the supports they need to participate and succeed in the province’s workforce:

  • Closing the Gender Wage Working Gap through legislation to increase pay transparency in the hiring process and increasing reporting requirements in the public and private sectors.
  • Taking steps to increase the number of women in corporate leadership by working to increase the number of women serving on boards to 40% for all provincial agencies by 2019 and encouraging businesses to set a target of 30% by 2022.
  • Removing systemic barriers that prevent women’s full economic participation by developing a return‐to‐work program for women

Building Ontario’s Talent Advantage:
Over the next three years, Ontario will invest $411 million in the province’s greatest asset: its people.

This includes $132 million over the next three years of investments in experiential and hands-on learning programs, in order respond to the needs of students of employers in this changing economy and labour market.

$30 million to enhance the capacity of colleges and universities to work with employers to help employees gain and develop in-demand skills and credentials

$170 million in a new Ontario Apprenticeship Strategy, including:

  • $63 million over three years to create the Ontario Training Bank, which will serve as a one-stop shop for employers, job seekers and workers to access training that fits their needs.
  • $30 million over to expand and enhance SkillsAdvance Ontario to help local employers in key sectors develop customized training programs to meet the needs of employers, and support for vulnerable job seekers like the long-term unemployed and people with disabilities.

Modernizing Employment Ontario services to better align supports with the needs of the local economy and improving access to people with disabilities in Ontario.

Making Labour Market Information (LMI) more accessible through a new LMI website that will provide better data about job demand and vacancies in local labour markets.

Investing in Infrastructure and Rural Broadband
Ontario is investing $230 billion over 14 years for priority infrastructure projects such as hospitals, schools, transit, bridges and roads, starting in 2014-15. The next 10 years of investment are expected to support about 140,000 jobs, on average, per year. These investments include:

$79 billion for public transit in communities across the province, including the GTHA, Kitchener and Ottawa.

$25 billion for highway, bridge and road infrastructure projects like the 401, 417 and 427

$500 million over three years to expanding broadband internet connectivity in rural and northern communities, including:

  • $71 million towards improving cellular coverage in eastern Ontario
  • Up to $20 million to Telesat to support a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation project, which will help enable access to secure broadband services in rural and remote Ontario.

Accelerating and Diversifying International Trade
Ontario is continuing to implement a Global Trade Strategy to promote new economic and business partnerships around the world, including:

  • The Accelerate to International Markets program provides expert advice and supports to help Ontario businesses select and develop market entry strategies.
  • Supporting export activities of small and medium‐sized businesses through the Global Growth Fund, administered by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, by providing market research, export management services and trade missions.
  • Launching the Magnet Export Business Portal to improve access to export‐related programs and services offered by all levels of government and well as industry associations.
  • Expanding Ontario’s international footprint by growing the province’s presence in key markets, identifying potential business partners and providing assistance with the regulatory environment and import requirements.
  • Putting a stronger focus on reverse trade missions, bringing investments to Ontario.