The provincial government plans to spend $173-billion during the 2021-22 fiscal year as leaders hope to help Ontario recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario’s Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy released the latest provincial budget, Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy, earlier this afternoon. It includes a projected $33.1 billion deficit, with continued deficits expected through 2029.

“While this level of debt is neither sustainable nor desirable forever, but I am absolutely convinced it is necessary to get through the pandemic, and recover stronger,” said Bethlenfalvy, during a virtual press conference this afternoon.

Bethlenfalvy stressed much of Ontario’s additional spending will be allocated to helping end the COVID-19 pandemic, including an additional $2.3 billion for testing and contact tracing, on top of an additional $1 billion to support their province-wide vaccination plan.

“I would do it all over again for protecting the health and well-being of the people of Ontario. We have a war against an invisible enemy. This is what governments do. We’re incurring debt not just to increase the deficit, but to support healthcare and increase jobs. Hope is on the horizon.”

Local families can look forward to the third round of COVID-19 child benefit payments, which will be doubled from $200 to $400, and $500 for each child with special needs. They’re also proposing a 20 percent enhancement of their childcare tax credit.

Business owners will also see support through the second round of Small Business Support Grant payments. Small businesses will see $1.7 billion in relief through $10,000 to $20,000 grants.

Ontario says other highlights of their budget include:

- $1.4 billion for personal protective equipment, including over 315 million masks and 1.2 billion gloves,
- $5.1 billion to supports hospitals, creating an additional 3,100 hospital beds. This includes $1.8 billion in 2021-22 to continue providing for COVID-19 patients and to address patient needs,
- $2.6 billion to build 30,000 new long-term care beds, with $246 million to improve living conditions over the next four years,
- $4.9 billion to increase the average direct daily care to four hours a day in long-term care, and hiring more than 27,000 new positions, personal support workers and nurses,
- $175 million in 2021-22 to provide more help to those struggling with mental health and addictions,
- $2.1 million to support victims of crime, domestic violence and human trafficking,
- $1.6 million to support anti-racism initiatives,
- $400 million over three years to support tourism sectors affected by COVID-19,
- $2.8 billion to bring broadband to all Ontario communities,
- $50 million in grants to eligible faith-based and cultural organizations,
- A new tax credit for career training,
- A seniors’ home safety tax credit to support seniors and their relatives,

Ontario’s municipalities are also expecting to see an additional $1 billion in relief to help preserve public services and to support economic recovery. Ontario’s also calling on the Federal government to match the funding.

For more information:
‘Your government will be there for you,’ finance minister