The Ontario government’s post-pandemic 2023 budget reflected an end to one-time bailouts and emergency spending.
Instead, it put an emphasis on industry in an effort to support an uncertain economy.
Here’s what you need to know:
Largest budget in history
The province’s $204.7 billion budget is the province’s largest ever, surpassing last year’s spending by more than $6 billion.
Balancing the budget
The government says it’s on track to balancing the budget by 2025.
Ontario’s deficit dropped to about $2.2 billion for this fiscal year and is projected to continue to dip, reaching a surplus of $200 million in 2024-2025.
Ontario pharmacists will soon be able to prescribe more medications on top of the 13 ailments already allowed.
Starting in the fall, the expanded prescribing power will include medications that treat moderate acne, canker sores, diaper dermatitis, yeast infections, pinworms and theadworms, and nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy.
New provincial park:
Last year Ontario pledged to create a new provincial park. The commitment was mentioned again in the 2023 budget, with officials saying it will add 250 new campsites to the Ontario Parks system.
No details about where this park would be located were provided, however the budget does say that it will offer “four-season facilities” and provide space for swimming, hiking and cross-country skiing.
Protected area in Uxbridge
Very few details have been provided about this project but the province says it is exploring the creation of a new “protected area” in Uxbridge.
Tax credit for manufacturers
Canadian-controlled private corporations will now be eligible for a 10 per cent refundable tax credit of up to $2 million a year for buildings, machinery and equipment—at a cost of $780 million.
Health care staffing shortages
Ontario is investing about $200 million to address staffing shortages in healthcare on top of an $80 million commitment over three years to expand nursing education in universities and colleges.
Just over $41 million will be put towards hiring health-care workers, including 200 medical supervisors and retaining mid-to-late career nurses.
Investing in private clinics
Ontario will put an additional $72 million into OHIP-covered surgeries being performed at community surgical and diagnostic centres.
No more sickdays
As previously reported, Ontario did not extend the temporary three-day pandemic sick leave program, which is set to expire on March 31.
No more detailed COVID costs
The government has removed details of time-limited COVID-19-specific funding from the budget.
It is, however, pledging $113 million over three years for emergency readiness.
Help for seniors
The Ontario government is expanding the Guaranteed Annual Income System to allow 100,000 more seniors to become eligible as of July 2024.
There is also a $1-million investment over three years to expand the province-wide helpline dedicated to elder abuse.
The province has said it will accelerate about $569 million towards home care over the next fiscal year.
More investments in skilled workers
The province is spending $224 million to build and upgrade training centres in Ontario as well as adding $75 million to the Skills Development Fund over the next three years.
No big money for municipalities
There is no big money for cities struggling amid shortfalls as a result of the pandemic and the elimination of development fees by the provincial government.
The PCs have pledged to add an additional $202 million each year to the Homeless Prevention Program and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program—including $48 million for Toronto.