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Briefing: Ontario Provincial Budget 2018

Briefing: Ontario Provincial Budget 2018

The 2018 Ontario Budget, “A Plan for Care and Opportunity” was released on Wednesday, March 28th. In the Budget’s foreword, Finance Minister Charles Sousa reflects on the province’s economic performance in the past year, commending various strategic investments, the record low 5.5 percent unemployment rate, and the creation of 500 net jobs per day, on average. Yet Minister Charles Sousa also highlights core challenges facing Ontario’s economy. Areas of concern stressed are those of child and elderly care, health benefits, and an aging population, to name a few. Ultimately, the Budget states, “We will take appropriate steps to help [families], to relieve their burden, to ease stress and to unlock opportunity to keep our economy going.” This briefing will summarize specific elements of the Budget that are relevant to municipalities.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure, more specifically funding for infrastructure, is the most pertinent problem facing Canadian municipalities. The Ontario government has committed to the following:

“The Province is investing about $230 billion over 14 years starting in 2014–15 for priority projects such as hospitals, schools, transit, bridges and roads, and broadband in rural and remote communities. The next 10 years of investments are expected to support about 140,000 jobs, on average, per year. This will include more than $106 billion for new and upgraded transit and transportation infrastructure to drive economic growth.”

In the next year, the Province has committed to investing $90 million to the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program. The new Community Transportation Grant Program was also announced in the 2018 Budget, a five-year $40 million program to prove more travel options to residents. Additionally, the Province has allocated $500 million over three years to expand broadband connectivity in rural and northern communities.

Clean Water and Wastewater Fund

In collaboration with the Federal government, the Province is investing almost $840 million in water and wastewater infrastructure to municipalities and First Nations communities.

Working in Partnership with Municipalities

In 2018, the Province will provide municipalities with ongoing support of more than $4.2 billion. A list of some of the investments are as followed:

  • Providing a predictable source of funding from the Province’s Gasoline Tax for municipalities to improve and expand transit services. The Province has committed to doubling the municipal share of the Gasoline Tax revenue from the current two cents per litre to four cents per litre by 2021–22
  • Providing funding to small, rural and northern communities through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF). OCIF funding will increase to $300 million per year by 2018–19 to support the construction and renewal of critical road, bridge, water and wastewater infrastructure.
  • Providing up to $25 million over five years for tools and supports to help municipalities improve their asset planning capacity and promote infrastructure sustainability.
  • Providing unconditional funding under the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF). In 2018, the Province is providing an additional $5 million through the Northern Communities Grant component, increasing the total OMPF envelope to $510 million.
  • Investing up to $150 million of proceeds from the Provincial carbon market into a new Municipal Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Challenge Fund. The Fund aims to support municipal projects that reduce GHG emissions, including buildings, energy supply, transportation, water and waste. Selected projects will be announced in 2018.

A full list of investments to municipalities can be found on pages 278-279 of the Budget.

The full budget can be found here.