Ontario has announced a $186-billion spending plan the provincial government says will assist in the fight against COVID and help small businesses while supporting families.

On Wednesday, the Ford government released the 2021 Ontario Budget — Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy -- which was tabled by Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy.

The 2021 Budget builds on the government's record investments in response to the global pandemic, bringing total investments to $16.3 billion to protect people's health and $23.3 billion to protect the economy, while Ontario's COVID action plan support now totals $51 billion. 

The Budget has two main pillars: Protecting People's Health, which includes measures for defeating COVID-19, fixing long-term care, and caring for people. The second pillar: Protecting Our Economy, which outlines Ontario's plan to support families, workers, and employers.

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“The necessary public health measures have come at a cost for workers, families and business owners, but there is no question that they have saved lives,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy.

“We recognize the sacrifices that have been made. We are taking further steps to provide additional relief and support to those who have been most impacted by the pandemic, including providing a third round of direct payments to parents, doubling the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, and helping workers with their training expenses.”

Following the release of the Budget, residential and real estate leaders shared their support, including the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) and the Ontario Real Estate Board (OREA).

RCCAO said it's pleased by the province’s commitment to infrastructure and transportation projects reflected in this year’s budget, including the infrastructure investments of $145 billion over the next 10 years and the $16.9 billion in 2021-2022.

“The investments the government is making in critical infrastructure across the board will provide meaningful economic benefits in terms of creating jobs, stimulating the economy, and improving the quality of life for Ontarians,” says RCCAO executive director Nadia Todorova.

“RCCAO supports the many investments highlighted in the budget, including the significant highway expansion and bridge rehabilitation work across the province, the continuation of the necessary investments in broadband infrastructure and the continued progress on the four major transit projects in the region.”

Tim Hudak, CEO of OREA, says the new Budget acts on three recommendations laid out by the association to use housing as the engine to drive the provincial recovery, support families, create jobs, and spur economic growth.

Through the Budget, the province has committed to increasing broadband investment, expanding the Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit, and expanding the regional tax credit for business investment -- all recommendations made to the province as part of OREA’s Rebuilding Ontario: A Framework for Recovery and Small Towns, Big Opportunities: Unlocking Growth in Ontario’s Rural and Northern Communities reports.

Hudak says broadband internet quality is one of the top questions that realtors get from clients about the communities they’re looking to move to and the government has committed to increasing broadband investment to $4 billion, which will bring connectivity to all Ontarians by 2025.

"This ground-breaking investment will ensure that more Ontarians will be able to work remotely, creating jobs, and reversing out-migration in smaller communities across the province," said Hudak.

The Budget also supports Ontario parents with the cost of child care and helps them return to work by proposing a 20% enhancement of the Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit for 2021. This would increase support from $1,250 to $1,500, on average, providing about $75 million in additional support for the child care expenses of over 300,000 families.

To ensure that all areas of the province share in the recovery and growth after COVID-19, the Budget is also looking at enhancing the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit. This proposal will help encourage business investment in areas of the province where employment growth lagged the provincial average and is a step in the right direction towards OREA’s recommendation of Opportunity Zones.

"This is a unique opportunity to capitalize on the momentum of trends brought on by the pandemic," said Hudak, adding that a government focused on these ideas will help create and attract jobs, reverse the out-migration of young talent, and close the infrastructure gap in smaller communities.

"As the provincial recovery continues, it’s important that all Ontarians are supported and share in the prosperity that is soon to come," added Hudak.

While the promises contained in the Budget aim to help support and keep Ontarians safe, they come at a steep cost – a $33.1-billion deficit that the province won’t be able to eliminate until 2029.

You can read the full Budget here.

Real Estate News