March 24, 2021
Ontario Budget 2021 sees hope on the horizon but commits billions
to continue pandemic fight
Ontario tabled its 2021 budget today with a split focus: providing billions in extra funding to defeat the pandemic and to enable small businesses and communities to successfully bring their economies back to life.
“We have been through stormy seas this past year. But with vaccines arriving in our communities, hope is on the horizon . . . but this difficult voyage isn’t over,” said Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy as he tabled Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy
To that end, the province is investing more than $1 billion in a provincewide vaccination campaign, $2.3 billion for testing and contact tracing and $5.1 billion to create more than 3,100 additional hospital beds.
The budget builds on the government’s previous investments in response to the pandemic, bringing total investments to $16.3 billion to protect people's health and $23.3 billion to protect the economy. Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan support now totals $51 billion.
For 2021, total provincial revenue is estimated at $154 billion in 2021–22 with a deficit of $33.1 billion. In 2019-20, the Ontario deficit was $8.7 billion.
Ontario is projecting decreasing deficits of $27.7 billion in 2022–23 and $20.2 billion in 2023–24. The province’s real GDP, which declined by an estimated 5.7 per cent last year, and employment are both forecast to surpass their pre-pandemic levels in early 2022 as the economy recovers.
Planned investments in infrastructure over the next decade total $145.4 billion, including $16.9 billion in 2021–22. This is an increase over last year’s budget, which had planned capital investments over the same time period totalling $142.9 billion.
The budget noted capital investments are a key element of the government’s plan to create economic growth, recovery and long-term prosperity.
- $30.2 billion over the next decade, including an additional $3 billion since the 2020 budget, in hospital infrastructure. Significant investments (for projects under construction or in planning) include:
- Support for new inpatient care tower in Etobicoke, and a complete rebuild of the Mississauga hospital in partnership with Trillium Health Partners;
- New construction at Peel Memorial, in partnership with William Osler Health System;
- Expansion of inpatient beds and ambulatory care at London Health Sciences Centre and to expand the Stem Cell Transplant unit;
- Funding to support the planning of a new regional hospital in Windsor Essex;
- Support for a new hospital and lodge in Moosonee, as well as a new ambulatory care centre on Moose Factory Island;
- Investing in the development of a new children’s treatment centre in Chatham‐Kent; and
- Continuing to support building a children’s treatment centre in Ottawa as part of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
- Additional $933 million over four years, for a total of $2.6 billion, to support building 30,000 new long-term care beds.
- Ontario is also investing $246 million over the next four years to improve living conditions in existing homes.
- Construction is underway on four, new long‐term care homes in Mississauga, Ajax and Toronto under the Long‐Term Care Accelerated Build Pilot Program. Completion is slated for early 2022.
- $2.8 billion for broadband infrastructure, ensuring every region has access to reliable service by 2025. This commitment brings total investments to nearly $4 billion over six years.
$61.6 billion over 10 years for public transit such as:
- The four priority subway projects in the Greater Toronto Area;
- The updated Hamilton LRT project, which has been added as a fifth priority transit project;
- The GO Rail Expansion program; and
- The Kitchener GO Rail Expansion project to strengthen connections and increase access to Ontario’s Toronto‐Waterloo Innovation Corridor.
- More than $21 billion over 10 years to support the planning and/or construction of highway expansion and rehabilitation projects.
- $5 million to support planning and design work for potential passenger rail service between Toronto, North Bay, Timmins and Cochrane. An initial business case is expected to be released this spring.
- An additional $39.6 million over three years to the Specialist High Skills Major program to create approximately 75 new programs to provide more opportunities for high school students to gain job-ready skills and explore joining the skilled trades.
- To ensure Ontario has the skilled labour it needs for priority infrastructure projects, proponents of the Ontario Line subway project will provide information on in‐demand trades and subtrades necessary to support project completion in their RFP responses. The successful proponent will enter into discussions with the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development regarding apprenticeship training supports, including strategic voluntary targets and financial incentives.
The full Ontario 2021 budget documents can be accessed here.