Delivering a Plan for Care and Opportunity
Ontario Continuing to Invest in Health Care, Child Care and Mental Health
March 28, 2018
Dr. Helena Jazcek, MPP Oak Ridges-Markham is pleased to announce that today the government released the 2018 Budget, which includes significant new investments in health care, child care, transit, home care and mental health, and new measures to create more job opportunities for people across the province. The Budget also focuses on initiatives that make life more affordable and provide more 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
Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, introduced the Budget in the legislature today. If passed, Ontario would expand OHIP+ with free prescription drugs for everyone 65 and over, improve mental health care and addictions services, and introduce free preschool child care for children aged two-and-a-half until eligible for kindergarten.
Investing in Care
Ontario is helping ease the mounting pressure that individuals and families are facing and giving them every opportunity to care for their loved ones by:
- Introducing the new Seniors’ Healthy Home Program. This recognizes the costs associated with older seniors living at home, where they want to be. It provides a benefit of up to $750 annually for eligible households led by seniors 75 and over to help them live independently and offset the costs of maintaining their homes.
- Introducing a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program, reimbursing 80 per cent, up to a maximum of $400 per single person, $600 per couple and $700 for a family of four with two children, of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses each year, for those without workplace health benefits or not covered by OHIP+ or other government programs.
- Providing more affordable quality child care by making preschool child care free for children aged two-and-a-half until they are eligible for kindergarten. This saves a family with one child $17,000, on average, and builds on the savings families get from full-day kindergarten. Early learning has been demonstrated to improve children’s academic performance throughout their lives.
- Providing better and faster access to mental health and addictions services for hundreds of thousands more children, young people and adults across Ontario — bringing the total funding to more than $17 billion over four years.
- Improving hospitals by providing better access to care, reducing wait times, addressing capacity issues and better meeting the needs of Ontario’s growing and aging population through an additional $822-million investment in 2018–19 — the largest single government investment in hospitals in almost a decade. The province is also investing approximately $19 billion over 10 years to build and renovate hospitals to provide more and faster health care for people. Including the Mackenzie Health’s New Vaughan Hospital which will accommodate emergency and surgical services, acute impatient and intensive care beds, diagnostic imaging and specialized ambulatory clinics. Creating 30,000 new long-term care beds over the next 10 years — adding 5,000 new beds by 2022 — to help people who can no longer live independently and provide peace of mind for people who care for them. These new beds are in addition to the 30,000 existing beds being redeveloped.
- Building a fair society and enhancing choice and independence by investing $1.8 billion to strengthen services for 47,000 adults with developmental disabilities and reforming the social assistance system to focus on people rather than on rules and regulations.
Making Life More Affordable
Families are facing mounting pressures — whether at work or on their commute or in their pocketbook — and it’s having a real impact on people’s lives and our ability to care for our loved ones. Ontario is taking steps to make life more affordable and provide more financial security during a time of rapid economic change:
- Making prescriptions completely free for everyone 65 and over through OHIP+, ensuring that no senior citizen ever needs to go without necessary drugs. By eliminating the Ontario Drug Benefit annual deductible and co-pay, this saves the average Ontario senior $240 per year. This expansion of OHIP+ follows the introduction of free prescriptions for everyone under the age of 25 in the 2017 Ontario Budget.
- Providing a public transit tax credit that saves seniors up to $450 a year, as of July 1, 2017, and lowering the cost of commuting by about $720 per year for the average commuter transferring between the GO/UP Express network and the TTC.
- Working with the TTC, York Region Transit, Mississauga’s MiWay, Brampton Transit and Durham Region Transit to introduce discounts to transit users who transfer between these municipal transit networks and the TTC. This initiative could save cross-boundary transit commuters up to $1.50 per trip, saving regular commuters about $720 per year.
- Making all GO Transit trips within Toronto and all GO transit trips under 10 kilometers anywhere on the GO network just $3. In addition, PRESTO card users at stations such as Rutherford, Langstaff and Markham will also see fare reductions when taking GO Transit back and forth to Union Station.
- Cutting residential electricity bills as of July 1, 2017, by 25 per cent on average and up to
40 or 50 per cent for eligible rural and low-income families.
Creating Opportunity for People
Ontario is helping people adapt to, and thrive in a changing economy to make sure the province remains the best place to live, work and do business. Actions include:
- Making college and university tuition free for more than 225,000 students of all ages. Free or low tuition is available for students from low- and middle-income families; tuition is free for those earning up to $90,000 and students from families who earn up to $175,000 are also eligible for financial aid.
- Building a new York University campus in Markham — the first university campus in York Region. The new university campus will serve an estimated 4,000 students in York Region.
- Preparing students for good jobs by providing $132 million over three years to develop postsecondary education programs that respond to the changing needs of students and employers.
- Providing $935 million in new funding over three years through the Good Jobs and Growth Plan to support Ontario businesses, students and graduates, and help attract good, well-paying jobs.
- Creating the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan, a $47 million investment over four years that will support more than 10,000 Black children, youth and their families
The province has beaten its fiscal targets every year since the recession, and is forecasting a budget surplus in 2017–18. Beginning in 2018–19, Ontario is choosing to make more investments in the care and services that the people of this province rely on. As a result, the province will run modest deficits of less than one per cent of GDP. The Budget outlines a path back to balance by 2024–25, building on the province's long track record of responsible fiscal management.
“This budget is about making everyday life more affordable for Ontarians. We are making major investments in mental health, increasing caregiver and family supports, and a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program to ensure a fairer and better province. Our plan for care and opportunity will provide real support for families, children, and seniors in Oak Ridges-Markham.”
- Dr. Helena Jaczek, M.P.P., Oak Ridges-Markham
- The government is choosing to make new investments of $20.3 billion over the next three years to support vital public services that people in Ontario rely on, focusing on priority areas such as health care, education, child care, seniors, social services, growing the economy and creating good jobs.
- Since the recession, Ontario’s economy has gained over 800,000 net new jobs. The unemployment rate has steadily declined to a 17-year low in February 2018, and has remained below the national average for 34 consecutive months.
- Since 2014 Ontario’s economy has grown more than Canada’s and all other G7 countries.