For the first time Ontario has tabled a budget that proposes to spend more than $200 Million. In delivering his budget speech Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy took listeners through an imaginary highway tour of Ontario stopping at points where massive government infrastructure spending is being deployed. He stressed the several automotive projects being supported by the government, most of them focused on the Electric vehicle sector.
Health tops spending
Health continues to be the single biggest ticket item at $81 Billion—6 billion more than will be spent in the current year. Elementary and secondary education spending will be up by $1.5 Billion to $36.1 billion. Post secondary education will see a more modest increase of $400 million to $12.5 Billion. Children, Community and social services spending will also increase by $400 million to $19.8 Billion.
Servicing Ontario’s debt—now $400 Billion or double the current years’ spending will cost taxpayers over $14 Billion or 6.8 percent of revenue.
Massive $184 Billion on infrastructure over 10 years
The big emphasis in the budget was the government’s investments to support jobs and manufacturing. Ontario has announced over $16 billion in new investments in the electric vehicle sector. Much of it over the last year, including a huge investment by Volkswagen in St. Thomas that comes with a yet-to-be-known price tag.
Ontario has announced the most ambitious capital investment plan in history with more than $184 billion to be spent over 10 years including:
$27.9 billion for planning and construction of highway expansion and rehabilitation projects such as Highway 413, the highway and transportation corridor across Halton, Peel and York regions, the Bradford Bypass, a new four-lane freeway connecting Highway 400 in the County of Simcoe and Highway 404 in York Region, and the new Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph.
$70.5 billion will be for transit over the next 10 years, including continuing to transform the GO Transit rail network into a modern, reliable and fully integrated rapid transit network; and the largest subway expansion in Canadian history that includes the Ontario Line, the Scarborough Subway Extension, the Yonge North Subway Extension and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. The Hamilton LRT received a mention but there was no timeline provided for the start of the project.
Over $48 billion will go to hospital infrastructure over the next 10 years, including more than 50 hospital projects that would add 3,000 new beds over 10 years.
$15 billion in capital grants over 10 years to expand and renew schools and to help create 86,000 new child care spaces by December 2026.
Municipalities will get no more COVID bailouts
Conspicuously missing from the budget was any new money earmarked for municipalities for COVID recovery. That includes Toronto, who recently passed a budget that was contingent on a more than $1 billion bailout from the province. That will be a headache for the new mayor of Toronto to tackle.
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