Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19

Premier Ford and Minister Phillips Announce Additional Health Care Resources and Support for People, Jobs and Employers

Ministry of Finance

TORONTO — Today, Finance Minister Rod Phillips released Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update).

The government’s action plan is a first step in its response to COVID-19 and includes $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and direct support for people and jobs. It also will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets.

This $17 billion response is a critical first step to ensure our health care system, communities and economy are positioned to weather the challenges ahead. The plan includes historic levels of prudence, including a dedicated $1 billion COVID-19 contingency fund, as part of the additional health care investments, as well as an unprecedented $2.5 billion reserve and an increased contingency fund of $1.3 billion to provide continued flexibility to respond to changing global circumstances.

The plan includes $3.3 billion in additional health care resources to protect the health and well-being of the people of Ontario.

“As Finance Minister, my number one priority right now is ensuring that our front-line health care professionals have the resources they need to fight the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Minister Phillips. “The people of Ontario can have confidence that we will do whatever it takes to protect their health and well-being. These additional resources will enhance hospital capacity, protect our loved ones in long-term care, and support our public health officials’ work to flatten the curve and slow the spread.”

Summary:

  • The Ontario government tabled an interim economic update that pledges $10-billion in tax deferrals mostly for businesses and $7-billion in new spending on health care and payments to seniors and parents as the province battles COVID-19.
  • The plan more than doubles Ontario’s current budget deficit to $20.5-billion in 2020-21, as revenues shrink and the province forecasts economic growth in 2020 to screech to a complete halt but rebound in 2021.
  • It would see Ontario spend $3.3-billion more on health care, including hundreds of millions for hospitals, protective gear, acute care and critical beds and $160-million more for public health, including COVID-19 monitoring and lab testing.
  • Ontario will also offer hike payments for low-income seniors and reduce hydro bills
  • On the economic front, the Ford government is preparing to give parents a one-time cash payment of $200 for every child they have under the age of 12. The payment rises to $250 for each child with special needs.
  • Provincial officials told reporters the payments will cost Ontario $340 million and parents will be able to apply for them on a special online portal starting on April 6.
  • They’re also doubling payments to low-income seniors through the Guaranteed Annual Income System. For the next six months, an elderly couple will see their maximum monthly payments rise to $332.
  • OSAP loan repayments have also been suspended until Sept. 30.
  • Finally, the province is deferring a variety of the taxes, fees and premiums it collects for the next five months.
  • They’re deferring payment of “most provincially administered taxes,” without penalties or interest for the next six months.
  • They’re also allowing businesses to defer paying WSIB premiums for the next six months.

News source: https://news.ontario.ca/mof/en/2020/03/ontarios-action-plan-responding-to-covid-19.html

Hussein Ebrahimjee

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