A report from MPP Andrea Khanjin: Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy

2021 Budget Brings Province’s COVID-19 Response to $51 Billion, Including supports or Barrie – InnisfilToday the 2021 Budget and next phase of Ontario’s response to COVID-19 was released: Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. This is the second Budget to be delivered during the pandemic and is designed to continue to protect the health and jobs of the people in Barrie and Innisfil, while also focusing on economic growth and recovery post-COVID-19. The people of Barrie and Innisfil have made tremendous sacrifices this past year to keep the community safe; and as the pandemic is nearing its end, more needed support is being provided to ensure that we can unleash the economic growth that is necessary for job creation, prosperity and an even stronger connected community afterwards.

The 2021 Budget builds on the government’s record investments in response to the global pandemic, bringing total investments to $16.3 billion to protect people’s health and $23.3 billion to protect our economy. Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan support now totals $51 billion.

Protecting People’s Health is the first pillar of the 2021 Budget. It includes measures for defeating COVID-19, fixing long-term care and caring for people. Highlights of Ontario’s plan to defeat COVID-19:To vaccinate every person in the province who wants to be vaccinated, Ontario has made more than $1 billion available for our provincewide vaccination plan. Ontario is also making it safer to re-engage with workplaces, businesses and communities with $2.3 billion for testing and contact tracing. To protect the frontline heroes and vulnerable people, Ontario has made available $1.4 billion for personal protective equipment, including more than 315 million masks and more than 1.2 billion gloves. To ensure that every person who requires care in a hospital can access a bed even during the worst of the pandemic, the government is investing an additional $5.1 billion to support hospitals as the pandemic began taking up more than 3,100 additional hospital beds. This includes $1.8 billion in 2021-22 to continue providing care for the COVID-19 patients, address surgical backlogs and keep pace with patient needs.

 Highlights of Ontario’s plan to fix long-term care:
“I understand the need to protect our seniors as they have paved the way for many of us today to enjoy the freedoms we uphold and the things that we take for granted.” said Andrea Khanjin MPP for Barrie-Innisfil. “Protecting the health and well-being of our loved ones living in long-term care homes in our community, and the dedicated staff who provide care for them is my number one priority. This Local Long-Term Care Prevention and Containment funding will directly support Bob Rumball Home for the DeafIOOF Seniors HomeMill Creek Care Centre and the Roberta Place. ”To address decades of neglect and help those waiting to get into long-term care, Ontario is investing an 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 including ensuring that homes have air conditioning for residents, so loved ones can live in comfort and with safety, dignity and respect. To protect loved ones in long-term care from the deadly COVID-19 virus, Ontario is investing an additional $650 million in 2021-22, bringing the total resources invested since the beginning of the pandemic to protect the most vulnerable to over $2 billion. To ensure loves ones receive the best quality care in Canada, Ontario is investing $4.9 billion over four years to increase the average direct daily care to four hours a day in long-term care and hiring more than 27,000 new positions, including personal support workers (PSWs) and nurses.

Highlights of Ontario’s plan to care for people: To address the need for more health care services, Ontario is making investments to support a historic amount of hospital expansion and construction projects. To help the thousands of people struggling with mental health and addictions issues, Ontario is providing additional funding of $175 million in 2021-22 (as part of an investment of $3.8 billion over 10 years) to provide more and better care for everyone who needs it. To support our First Responders, there is government investment to work towards prevention of and intervention of PTSD. To support seniors living at home, the Seniors Home Safety Tax Credit was introduced, worth 25% of up to $10,000 in eligible expenses such as: grab bars, reinforcements to the toilet, tub, shower, wheelchair, stair lifts, Elevators and other renovations to further access to seniors.
Learn more about Ontario’s plan to protect people’s health

Protecting our economy is the second pillar of the 2021 Budget. It outlines Ontario’s plan to support families, workers and employers.
“The public health restrictions have come at a cost for workers, families, and business owners, but there is no question that they have saved lives in our community,” said Andrea Khanjin, MPP for Barrie-Innisfil. “I recognize the many sacrifices that have been made; and additional relief and support to those who have been most impacted by the pandemic will be provided. This includes doubling the Ontario Small Business Grant, helping workers with their training expenses, and providing a third round of direct payments to parents.”

Highlights of Ontario’s plan to support workers and families: To help workers with their training expenses, the government is proposing a new Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit for 2021. It would provide up to $2,000 per recipient for 50 per cent of eligible expenses, for a total of an estimated $26 million in support to about 230,000 people in 2021.To help families – who have faced new pressures and expenses due to the pandemic – keep more money in their pockets, the government is providing a third round of payments to support parents through the Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit, totaling $1.8 billion since last March. The payment will be doubled to $400 per child for this round and $500 for each child with special needs. This means a family with three young children, one of whom has special needs, will receive $1,300 in this third round of payments or $2,600 total under this program.To support parents with the cost of childcare and help them get back to the workforce, the government is proposing a 20 per cent enhancement of the CARE tax credit for 2021. This would increase support from $1,250 to $1,500, on average, providing about $75 million in additional support for the childcare expenses of over 300,000 families.
Providing free, occupational health and safety training for health and safety representatives in up to 60,000 small businesses by investing $3.5 million annually for three (3) years. This will focus on helping lower injury rates and improve health and safety awareness and practice. Releasing online COVID-19 safety plan builder that makes it easier and faster for small businesses to develop custom COVID-19 protocols that are in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) act, 2020Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers, a voluntary program to promote health and safety and reduce injuries and illness in the workplace by encouraging employers to implement an accredited occupational health and safety management system and conduct hazard and risk assessments. 

Highlights of Ontario’s plan to support jobs: To help small businesses that have been most affected by the necessary restrictions to protect people from COVID-19, Ontario is providing a second round of Ontario Small Business Support Grant payments to eligible recipients. Approximately 120,000 small businesses will automatically benefit from an additional $1.7 billion in relief through this second round of support in the form of grants of a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 – bringing the estimated total support provided through this grant to $3.4 billion. To support Ontario’s tourism, hospitality and culture industries that have been among the most heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario is investing an additional $400 million over the next three years in new initiatives to support these sectors. This builds on previously announced investments of $225 million, bringing the total to more than $625 million since the pandemic began. To connect homes, businesses and communities to broadband – which COVID-19 has demonstrated is a necessity, not a luxury – Ontario is investing $2.8 billion, bringing the Province’s total investment to nearly $4 billion over six years beginning 2019-20. 

Highlights of Ontario’s plan to support communities:
To support faith-based and cultural organizations that are struggling due to the additional costs caused by COVID-19, Ontario will be making up to $50 million available for grants to eligible organizations. To support Ontario’s 44 municipalities, the Province’s key partners in the fight against COVID-19, the government is providing almost $1 billion in additional financial relief in 2021 to help preserve vital public services and support economic recovery. Dedicating $117.3 million in targeted employment and training supports to assist women, racialized individuals, Indigenous peoples, youth and people with disabilities who are facing the highest rates of unemployment during the pandemic. This funding will help remove barriers and offer training opportunities so they can get the in‐demand skills they need for good jobs and get connected with employers looking to grow their businesses. Continuing to provide choice of access to safe, high quality and affordable childcare over the course of the pandemic, including flexible funding approaches and health and safety supports to help keep childcare programs open. Proposing to enhance the Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit, which helps Ontario families with childcare costs while letting them choose the care that is right for their children.
“You can’t have a healthy economy without healthy people, “said Minister Bethlenfalvy.“For the past year, we have been focused on protecting people from COVID-19. Many challenges lie ahead. But with vaccines being distributed in every corner of the province, hope is on the horizon. We are ready to finish the job we started one year ago. ”Learn more about Ontario’s plan to protect our economy Quick Facts Like economies around the world, Ontario has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The province’s real gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to have declined by 5.7 per cent on 2020. As the economy recovers, Ontario’s real GDP and employment are both forecast to surpass their pre-pandemic levels in early 2022.Ontario is projecting a $38.5 billion deficit in 2020-21. Over the medium term, the government projects steadily declining deficits of $33.1 billion in 2021-22, $27.7 billion in 2022-23 and $20.2 billion in 2023-24.In order to provide transparency about the high degree of economic uncertainty, the 2021 Budget includes Faster Growth and Slower Growth scenarios that the economy could take over the next several years and illustrates the possible impacts on Ontario’s finances.

Patricia Dent

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