Budget shaped by Ontario's daunting $15-billion deficitTuesday, April 24, 2012 by: SooToday.com Staff
DAVID ORAZIETTI, MPP
Orazietti announces Ontario budget includes further deficit-fighting measures
Provincial budget tackles deficit while protecting gains in health care, education and job creation
QUEEN's PARK - The government has announced that new measures, which are in addition to the province’s commitment to upholding the 30 percent Ontario Tuition Grant, the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit and an additional $526 million investment in home care, will be included in the 2012 Ontario budget to further reduce the deficit while protecting the gains made in health care and education since 2003, David Orazietti, MPP announced today.
“Our budget has struck the right balance by protecting key public services including health care and education, which are the most important services for Ontario families, while ensuring we take the necessary steps to eliminate the deficit,” said Orazietti. “If the provincial Conservatives had it their way they would make deep cuts to Ontario’s public services and if the provincial NDP had it entirely their way the province’s deficit would be significantly increased.”
The province will continue to focus on delivering sustainable high-quality health care by reducing the rate of growth on spending to an average of 2.1 percent annually over the next three years but it will move forward with its plan to provide $526 million in support for home care and community services.
Improvements to the education system, ranging from full-day kindergarten (FDK) to postsecondary, will also remain a top priority as the government has committed to maintaining small class sizes in the early grades and fully implementing FDK across the province.
Full-time college and university students will continue to benefit from the 30 percent Ontario Tuition Grant.
New additions to the 2012 budget include proposed changes to provincial income tax rates on incomes over $500,000, which would increase from 11.16 percent to 13.16 percent.
This budget measure will increase provincial revenues by an estimated $470 million in 2013-14.
The government will also implement two savings measures that will provide $75 million in funding for health care and child care.
Building on the success of the 2010 prescription drug reforms which dramatically lowered the cost of generic drugs, the government will move immediately to lower the cost of the top ten generic drugs to 20 percent of the brand product.
This change will generate an additional $55 million a year in savings.
The government is also reducing spending on consultants by a further $20 million in the next year.
A $20 million investment will be made in 201213 to help small, rural and Northern hospitals improve patient care.
The government will also increase funding to child care operators to ensure a seamless transition into Ontario’s landmark FDK program.
Finally, the province will increase rates for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) by one percent in the fall of 2012.
In addition to managing current costs, the government’s deficit reduction plan involves strengthening and further diversifying the economy through increased productivity growth.
The budget establishes a Jobs and Prosperity Council to advise government on a plan to boost productivity and streamlines existing business support into a single Jobs and Prosperity Fund.
The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) will continue to be protected as a stand-alone program.