Ontario Legislature Passes Budget Bill to Protect Health and Jobs

Published on April 30, 2021

Ontario Legislature Passes Budget Bill to Protect Health and Jobs

As provinces across the country continue to battle the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the introduction of more contagious variants of concern, the Ontario legislature has passed Bill 269, Protecting the People of Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2021 and enacted into law the next phase of the province’s ongoing response.

The government’s total investments in protecting people's health have grown to $16.3 billion, including $1 billion to enable and support COVID-19 vaccinations, which has seen Ontario administer more vaccines than any other province or territory in the country. As soon as the province receives more vaccines from the federal government, it will be able to further accelerate its rollout to protect more people from COVID-19.

“The 2021 Budget makes good on our government’s promise to do whatever it takes to protect people’s health and support our economy,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board. “Right now, vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel. We have the infrastructure to get Ontarians vaccinated with boots on the ground to get vaccines into arms as they arrive in the province. What we need now are more supply of vaccines.”

In addition to historic investments in the province’s health system, the Ontario government is providing $23.3 billion to protect the economy. Ontario's COVID-19 action plan support now totals $51 billion.

Additional highlights of Ontario's plan include:

  • Making it safer to re-engage with workplaces, businesses and communities with $2.3 billion for testing and contact tracing.
  • Protecting frontline heroes and vulnerable people with $1.4 billion for personal protective equipment, including more than 315 million masks and more than 1.2 billion gloves.
  • Investing an additional $5.1 billion to support hospitals since the pandemic began, creating more than 3,100 additional hospital beds. This includes $1.8 billion in 2021-22 to continue providing care for COVID-19 patients, address surgical backlogs and keep pace with patient needs.

“We will continue to invest in our health care system today and for the long term, building on record investments since the start of the pandemic to create more hospital beds, build and improve hospitals, increase testing and fix long-term care,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy.

Protecting the economy

The 2021 Budget provides tax relief that will help families with the cost of childcare, help workers with the cost of training and encourage regional investment and job growth.

Bill 269 includes the following three changes to the Taxation Act, 2007 that will bring direct relief to people and businesses in the midst of this crisis:

Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit

The new Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit is a temporary, refundable Personal Income Tax credit for 2021, helping workers get the training they may need for a career shift, to re-train or to sharpen their skills. The credit will provide up to $2,000 in relief for 50 per cent of eligible expenses, for a total of an estimated $260 million in support to about 230,000 people in 2021.

Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) Tax Credit

To support parents with the cost of child care and help them get back into the workforce, the government is providing a 20 per cent enhancement of the CARE tax credit for 2021. This will increase support from $1,250 to $1,500 per family, on average, providing about $75 million in additional support for the child care expenses of over 300,000 families.

Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit

To encourage business investment in certain regions of the province that have lagged in employment growth in the past, Ontario is temporarily doubling the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit rate to 20 per cent from 10 per cent, resulting in total tax credit support of about $155 million by 2022–23.

Bill 269 also includes the following changes:

  • Enacting the new Securities Commission Act, 2021 to make the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) – the province’s capital markets regulator – more effective. This includes expanding the mandate of the OSC to include fostering capital formation and competition in the markets to boost economic growth and create a level playing field for all market participants, as well as other changes that reflect corporate governance best practices.
  • Strengthening the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario’s (FSRA) capabilities to enforce compliance with rules in the insurance sector and to move forward in the establishment of an oversight framework for financial planners and advisors.
  • Build capability for Invest Ontario, a new provincial agency that will promote the province as a key investment destination and act as a “one-stop shop” for businesses and investors. It will move at the speed of business and drive greater economic growth, support strategic domestic firms, and attract business from around the world to create good jobs in Ontario.
  • Amending the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade Act, 1990 to require that the outcomes of business support programs be accessible through an annual Ontario Investment Prospectus report. This will improve transparency and accountability and help ensure that funds are used to benefit businesses and communities across Ontario.

Included in the $23.3 billion in investments to protect our economy through COVID-19 and beyond is unprecedented support for families and workers, jobs and Ontario's small businesses. It also builds on a solid foundation for economic growth to help Ontario emerge from the pandemic positioned for job creation and long‑term prosperity.

Healthy people are essential for a healthy economy. With vaccines being distributed, hope is on the horizon. Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy provides the resources necessary to finish the battle with COVID-19, building on the government's record investments to protect health and jobs during the global pandemic.