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Briefing: Ontario Provincial Budget 2017

Briefing: Ontario Provincial Budget 2017

On April 27th, 2017, Finance Minister Charles Sousa unveiled Ontario’s first balanced budget in nearly 10 years. The budget, referred to as “2017 Ontario Budget, A Stronger, Healthier Ontario,” is focused on investing in the government’s longstanding priorities of health care, education, and more generally helping families. Of specific interest to municipalities, Sousa addressed infrastructure, taxes, and provincial-municipal partnerships.


Balancing the budget addresses the promise that came from the 2010 budget, that stated the government would have balanced books by the 2017-18 fiscal year. The government is also predicting a balanced budget for 2018-19 and 2019-20. The deficit is predicted to be at $1.5 billion for 2016-17, and $0.00 for both 2018-19 and 2019-20.

This is all made possible because of higher than expected revenues, mainly coming from corporate taxes, income tax, and the provincial land-transfer tax—which is up 48 percent in two years to $3 billion. In addition, the net debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to be at 37.8 percent in 2016-17, which is a decline from 2014-15 numbers, and it is expected to continue to fall. The government is predicting a continued decline, projecting the net debt-t0-GDP ratio to be 27 percent by 2029-30.


The government has indicated that they are committed to fostering a sustainable financial relationship with municipalities. The province has confirmed it will provide municipalities with $4 billion in 2017, and plan to increase this number to $4.2 billion in 2018.

This commitment includes tripling the funding available through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) to $300 million by 2018-19, in order to support the renewal of critical road, bridge, water, and wastewater infrastructure for northern and rural communities.

Ontario has also confirmed that they will double Gas Tax funding starting in 2019, projecting to increase from two to four cents per liter by 2021. The funding is currently set at $334 million for 2016-17 and it is estimated it will reach $624 million by 2021-22.  

In addition, the province is exploring a framework for home-sharing in Ontario that balances municipal and provincial responsibilities and objectives, the province is collaborating with the City of Toronto to increase Ontario’s understanding of municipal concerns and inform the province’s framework.  


The province promised $160 billion in infrastructure over a 12-year period in the 2016 budget, and have increased that to $190 billion in this year’s budget. As the government moves into its fourth year in power, they plan to spend $15 billion in 2017-18. The majority of this will be going towards transit projects, mainly GO rail expansion and extensions, rapid transit projects, and high speed rail. In addition, the province is investing in highway infrastructure, mostly along the 400 series highways.

The province has committed to increase funding for Ontario’s Connecting Links program to help municipalities repair roads and bridges connecting two ends of a provincial highway through a community or to a border crossing. In 2017–18, Ontario will provide $25 million to 19 municipalities. Funding for the Connecting Links program will increase to $30 million per year by 2018–19.

There will also be an investment in cycling infrastructure, as a part of Ontario’s climate change strategy, with $50 million being invested in 2017-18.


The province has committed to provide some relief to rising electricity bills, spending $1.44 billion in the 2017-18 year on programs to combat rising electricity rates. The government announced earlier this year that homeowners can expect to see their electricity bills reduced by an average of 25 per cent starting this summer. Rate increases over the next four years would also be held to the rate of inflation and include an 8-per-cent rebate equal to the provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax, effective Jan. 1, 2017.    


Under the 2017-18 budget, municipalities will be allowed to bring in a special tax on hotels and short term rentals from organizations like Airbnb. This could be an important revenue tool for cities. All municipalities that adopt the hotel tax will be required to share their hotel tax revenue with the regional tourism organization or a not-for-profit tourism organization.

The province will also raise taxes on tobacco sales, with a $2 per carton increase by April 28th, and an additional $10 per carton increase over the next 10 years.   


Health care will receive a significant increase, with the province promising an additional $7 billion over the next three years. The overall health budget is increasing by 3.3 percent. A large portion is going towards building new hospitals and funding public hospitals. The province has also promised a substantial amount to cancer research, expanding mental health and addiction services, and public funding for the new abortion pill.   

Youth Drug Coverage

The budget has promised new youth pharma care, with those under 24 years of age able to access free prescription drugs, regardless of income. It comes into effect January 1st, 2018 and will cost the province approximately $465 million per year. 


The government is planning to spend $200 million next fiscal year to increase access to licensed child care. They plan on opening up 24,000 new daycare spots this year, which is part of 100,000 spots promised over the next 5 years.

The province has promised to invest $130 million for affordable housing in Toronto, as well as use a minimum of 20 percent of land for social housing. They are also committing 125 million over 5 years to encourage the development of rental buildings.

Ontario is investing $377 million in 2017–18 through the Green Ontario Fund to make it easier for households and businesses to adopt proven low-carbon technologies. It will provide a range of programs, incentives and information to assist households, including 
low-income households and indigenous communities. 




The full budget can be found HERE.

From CBC News, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, CBC News, CP24, and CBC News.