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Chapter II: Growing the Economy and Creating Good Jobs


Ontario’s economy has been growing at a strong pace and businesses continue to expand and thrive. The unemployment rate is at 5.5 per cent, the lowest in 17 years, and has been less than the national average for 34 consecutive months. The province’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth has exceeded all G7 countries since 2014.

At the same time, the global economy is undergoing rapid change. The forces of technology and globalization are transforming the labour market, creating immense challenges and opportunities. Over the past four years, Ontario has directly met these challenges, resulting in strong economic growth that positions the province to continue to prosper over the long term. However, not everyone is experiencing the benefits of this growth equally.

People need good jobs, not just work for the time being, but jobs that provide stability, income certainty and a path to prosperity. A vibrant private sector and market forces alone are not enough to ensure this prosperity. That is why over the last number of years the government has been forging ahead with strategic investments in key sectors, alongside investments in skills and training that better equip the people of Ontario to compete globally. It is also why the Province is investing in ways that directly support people. Whether ensuring that every major infrastructure project has a community benefits agreement in place, or finding ways to increase the amount of goods and services that government procures from small and medium-sized enterprises, the Province is working to make growth across Ontario more inclusive.

More than 800,000 jobs have been created since the recessionary low, with almost 18,000 manufacturing jobs created in 2017. Ontario’s actions that support these high levels of growth include:

  • Maintaining a competitive general Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rate;
  • Reducing the small business CIT rate from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent;
  • Regional economic development funds that, since 2013, have helped to create and retain about 64,000 jobs across the province;
  • Creating and retaining more than 36,000 jobs through the Jobs and Prosperity Fund;
  • Supporting women’s economic empowerment, including enhanced representation on boards;
  • Increasing pay and workforce transparency;
  • Making it easier to enter the labour market and find a good job, through apprenticeship modernization;
  • Transforming student assistance, making tuition free for over 225,000 students and making the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) more generous for middle-income families and for mature students, with over 14,000 sole-support parents benefiting from OSAP in 2017–18 alone; and
  • Making a historic investment in adult education and essential skills through the Lifelong Learning and Skills Plan, to help every person get the skills they need to succeed.

The government’s consistent and strategic investments in jobs and skills have created an economy with strong foundations. In doing so, the Province has overcome many challenges and adapted to new circumstances in this rapidly changing world.

But in 2018, it is more apparent than ever that Ontario faces new challenges. The pace of globalization and automation continues to accelerate. A rising tide of U.S. protectionism creates uncertainty and new competitive pressures. Climate change also means changes to the way business and communities will work.

Ontario must face and overcome these challenges with the same relentless energy and care that it has over the past decade, seizing all opportunities.

The government’s Good Jobs and Growth Plan builds upon the Province’s successful economic and skills agenda of the past 10 years — updating that agenda to reflect the realities of the rapidly changing times, taking into consideration an ever-evolving global economy and leveraging the work of the government’s Global Trade Strategy. One of the major pillars of Ontario’s Global Trade Strategy is diversifying trade relationships. Whether that is taking advantage of existing free trade agreements, or fostering relationships at a subnational level with U.S. states, Ontario will lead the way and support its businesses as they grow and expand globally.

Through the Good Jobs and Growth Plan, and other priority investments, the government will continue to invest in the training and skills that the people of Ontario need to compete in a global economy. It will continue to pave the way for Ontario’s transition to a low-carbon economy. And it will commit support to the sectors that form the pillars of Ontario’s economy, while making investments in high-potential firms and key industries for future growth.

In these ways, Ontario is already responding to the changes arising from developments such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), U.S. tax reforms, and continued uncertainty regarding the trade relationship with the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

However, continuing developments may mean Ontario needs to take further action. While the Province continues to devote significant efforts towards a successful outcome in the NAFTA renegotiations, Ontario believes that the responsible and prudent course of action is to plan and prepare for all scenarios and outcomes.

Introducing a Good Jobs and Growth Plan

Ontario is facing new economic challenges as a result of rapid technological change, increased global competition and uncertainty surrounding trade negotiations. To remain competitive, flexible and responsive, in the face of these and other challenges, the Province is introducing a Good Jobs and Growth Plan with $935 million in new investments over the next three years as well as long-term infrastructure investments. Through this plan, Ontario will build upon and strengthen its economic foundations, support the development of local talent and entrepreneurs, and encourage the growth of businesses, while ensuring that more people across the province benefit from economic growth and prosperity.

Chart 2.1: The Good Jobs and Growth Plan
Accessible description of Chart 2.1

Building Ontario’s Talent Advantage

Student and teacher working on a model from 3D printing.
This Brampton high school student and teacher are working on a model of downtown Toronto, produced by 3D printing.

Providing access to lifelong learning and skills upgrading ensures that all Ontarians have the opportunity to grow, find a good job, achieve their potential and support a healthy economy. Having a highly skilled workforce is essential to Ontario’s competitive advantage and to economic growth and prosperity.

This is why, as part of the Province’s Good Jobs and Growth Plan, Ontario is investing $411 million over three years in its strongest asset — its people.

Ensuring that Ontario remains competitive and adaptable means that employers and training and education institutions must be increasingly working together to ensure that students, job seekers and workers are being prepared with in-demand skills and experience to equip them for the jobs of today and tomorrow. This includes quality postsecondary education, a modernized, robust apprenticeship system, and a flexible employment and training system.

Investing in Industry Partnerships and Innovation at Postsecondary Institutions

At the heart of Ontario’s talent advantage are Ontario’s world-class colleges and universities — providing the foundation of a highly skilled workforce. Over the next three years, the Province will provide $132 million to support innovative programming that responds to the needs of students and employers in this changing economy and labour market. This investment will:

  • Strengthen their partnerships with local employers to provide more students with hands-on experiential learning opportunities;
  • Provide more dual curriculum opportunities that partner with employers to create flexible postsecondary programming with intensive experiential learning components, including paid employment for students; and
  • Increase the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates by 25 per cent, to ensure that the province’s diverse, educated and innovative workforce continues to help globally recognized technology companies grow.

Supporting More Responsive and Flexible Skills Training

The government has heard from employers, workers and job seekers about the need for better connection and communication between trainers, educators and employers in order to meet workers’ and employers’ skills needs.

As a result, the government will invest $30 million to enhance the capacity of colleges, universities and other training providers to work closely with employers in key sectors across the province. These programs will train workers and job seekers with in-demand skills and credentials required to secure a job, adapt to changing technology, or advance to a better job and help their company grow. Programs may include short-term training, technical skills upgrading, on-the-job training and other methods that provide employers and their workforce with skills to compete and advance.

Boosting Hands-On Learning Opportunities

Studies have highlighted how experiential learning can contribute to career readiness1 by providing hands-on, real-world learning. It also helps employers train and recruit the next generation of talent, and provides students and graduates an opportunity to build connections that often lead to employment opportunities.

In 2017, the government made a significant investment in experiential learning opportunities when it launched the Career Ready Fund that will help create over 70,000 new experiential learning opportunities for postsecondary students between 2017–19. Ontario is investing an additional $12 million to extend the Career Ready Fund to 2020–21, supporting 28,000 more experiential learning opportunities for students and employers.

Modernizing Ontario’s Apprenticeship System

Apprentice learning mechanical techniques.
Apprenticeships offer opportunities to receive on-the-job training that lead to secure jobs in skilled trades.

Ontario’s apprenticeship system has trained over 68,000 people and certified 9,800 trade professionals annually over the past three years. Apprenticeship is the original experiential learning model, providing apprentices with the ability to “earn while they learn,” leading to industry recognized certification, and is a critical pillar of Ontario’s postsecondary education system. Ontario’s apprentices receive 85 to 90 per cent of their training in paid, on-the-job settings with the remaining portions done through in-class learning in colleges and union-based training centres.

Ontario’s skilled trades create careers leading to secure jobs and a good quality of life, and are also vital to the health and growth of the economy. Building on consultations across the province, the government is investing $170 million over three years in the new Ontario Apprenticeship Strategy.

This investment will include:

  • Expanding the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), providing more high school students with trades-related hands-on learning opportunities;
  • Improved guidance counselling resources and local labour market information for students, parents and educators;
  • A new grant to promote pooled group sponsorship models for apprentices;
  • A Local Apprenticeship Innovation Fund to increase opportunities for apprentices and encourage engagement within the apprenticeship system across Ontario, as well as support regional, local or sector-specific pilots where there is demonstrated market need;  and
  • Continuing education opportunities for trade professionals.

Establishing the Ontario Training Bank

Students developing skills through experiential learning.
Ontario is providing applied and experiential learning experiences to train skills and build a talent pipeline.

Ontario has one of the most highly skilled workforces compared to any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).2 To maintain the strength of the workforce, it is critical that employers have access to the talent they need to grow and compete, and that workers and job seekers have the opportunity to upgrade their skills to start a new career, or advance to a new or better job along their career path. That is why the government will invest an additional $63 million over three years to create the first Ontario Training Bank to serve as a one-stop shop for employers, job seekers and workers to access the skills training that meets their needs. The new Ontario Training Bank includes a refreshed set of services and programs3 that will:

  • Help employers invest in the skills of their workers, and come together to train and recruit new talent;
  • Provide workers with the ability to grow in their jobs and adapt to technological changes;
  • Provide employers with access to essential skills upgrading, including digital literacy for their workers at no cost to the employer;
  • Provide job seekers with support to access quality training to secure in-demand jobs and meet employers’ hiring needs; and
  • Bring employers, industry associations and training providers together to develop skills programs that are tailored to the needs of the local economy.
Developing Employer-Focused Sector Strategies

As part of the Ontario Training Bank, the Province will expand and enhance SkillsAdvance Ontario (SAO), through an investment of $30 million over two years, to maintain the growth and sustainability of critical sectors. SAO works to support local employers in key sectors to develop customized training programs that fill employers’ skills needs, help people find employment, and provide skills upgrading for workers. The program also provides training for vulnerable job seekers, including the long-term unemployed, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, newcomers, at-risk youth and others, to provide access to in-demand jobs.

There are currently five SAO projects operating across the province in support of approximately 700 participants. These sector-focused projects are in the construction, hospitality, automotive manufacturing, general manufacturing and energy sectors.

Modernizing Ontario’s Employment and Training System

The government currently invests more than $1 billion annually in a range of employment and training programs, supporting approximately one million Ontarians to improve their skills and help them find jobs, as well as assist employers in addressing their workforce needs.

Working in partnership with stakeholders, the government will modernize Employment Ontario services to better align supports with the needs of the local economy. This initiative will focus on key sectors, local labour market planning, and on helping job seekers and workers get the skills and support they need to find sustainable employment and advance in their careers.

Building on the Access Talent strategy, the modernized employment services will also provide better access to programs and information for persons with disabilities in Ontario.

Making Labour Market Information Accessible

Having access to accurate and timely labour market information (LMI) is integral for students, career counsellors and job seekers to help them make career and education decisions. The government launched a new LMI website in 2017 that provides new data about the current demand for jobs, and more regional information about job vacancies.

Beginning in spring 2018, Ontarians will have access to real time, local labour market information through the government’s refreshed LMI website. This will help students, job seekers and ‎employers make better decisions about their workforce and career goals using current and localized information.

Making Postsecondary Education More Affordable

Providing Transparent, Timely and Targeted Financial Assistance to Students

College student receiving an OSAP grant.
Ontario is making postsecondary education affordable by offering free tuition to over 225,000 college and university students.

The government is enhancing the postsecondary education and training system to make it more accessible and better able to prepare students to succeed in meeting the demands of a changing economy. A student’s access to learning should not be based on their ability to pay. For this reason, Ontario is reducing financial barriers for students from low- and middle-income families so they can pursue postsecondary education.

Ontario introduced the new Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) beginning in fall 2017, providing more transparent, timely and targeted financial assistance to students with the greatest financial need. In the 2017–18 school year, over 225,000 college and university students are receiving free tuition, and approximately another 175,000 are receiving generous grants and loans from OSAP. Almost all students who receive OSAP get some or all of their funding as a grant — money they will never have to pay back.

Making Postsecondary Education More Affordable through Changes to Parental and Spousal Contributions

Students applying for OSAP starting in fall 2018 may be eligible for more grants and/or loans. The government is reducing the amount parents are expected to contribute towards their child’s education. This means that students from middle-income families will find it easier to qualify for OSAP and will receive more financial assistance. For example, a dependant arts and science student in a typical family whose parents earn $90,000 per year could receive an additional $3,200 in OSAP assistance (both loans and grants) because of these changes.

Ontario is also reducing expected spousal contributions, making it easier for married students to receive OSAP. For example, a married student with one child whose spouse earns $30,000 per year could receive almost $3,000 more in OSAP grants per year because of these changes.

Making Students’ Assistance More Timely and Transparent

To help students and parents better plan for school, the government launched the OSAP application earlier than ever in November 2017 for enrolment in the 2018–19 school year. Providing information about financial assistance at the same time as school applications are submitted reduces the stress and anxiety of applying for school, and will encourage more current and prospective students to apply for financial assistance.

Simplifying the Payment Process for College and University

Partnering with colleges and universities across the province, in the 2018–19 school year, the government is introducing net tuition billing. Net tuition billing means that a student will receive one bill from their institution, which has already subtracted the amount of OSAP grant and loan funding and potential aid received from their school. This means that the student will only be billed for what they actually owe once OSAP and institutional aid are subtracted.

Increasing Access to Postsecondary Education for Underrepresented Groups

Financial barriers to education can be more significant for students from low-income families, Indigenous students, mature students and students with dependants.4 Making sure that finances are not a barrier to pursuing postsecondary education is critical to ensuring that all Ontarians can achieve their potential. The new OSAP system has made postsecondary education and training more affordable and accessible for hundreds of thousands of Ontarians, especially those who face some of the greatest barriers.

Chart 2.2: Impact of OSAP Transformation on Access for Underrepresented Groups, 2016–17 to 2017–18
Accessible description of Chart 2.2

Saving Students Money through Open Textbooks

Ontario is also supporting the creation and development of free online textbooks and educational resources for students to make college and university more affordable and accessible. This initiative allows students and faculty to browse, view and download free textbooks for use in their courses.

The $1 million Ontario Open Textbooks Initiative, launched in June 2017 in partnership with eCampus Ontario, focuses on Ontario-specific content in areas where the most significant impact and cost savings for students can be realized, including high-enrolment first-year courses, French-language content, content for Indigenous studies, trades and technical skills content, and content for new Canadians.

The current library collection has amassed over 230 textbooks, and anyone from across the province can view and download the open materials for free ( The Open Textbook Library addresses two key barriers to education — access and affordability — and since the library’s soft launch in May, more than 5,270 learners have saved over $520,000.

Recognizing Indigenous Institutes

Ontario recognizes the importance of bridging the postsecondary attainment gap for Indigenous peoples, as well as improving Indigenous access to, and success in, the postsecondary education sector. Ontario’s nine Indigenous Institutes are essential to this effort, offering pathways for over 1,000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners to earn a diploma, certificate or degree that reflects Indigenous knowledge, cultures and languages.

The Indigenous Institutes Act, 2017, was passed to support a new pathway for Indigenous students to earn a diploma, certificate or degree. The legislation recognizes that Indigenous Institutes play a unique role in Ontario’s postsecondary education system by providing accessible education and training to Indigenous students in culturally responsive learning environments. The legislation also supports Indigenous Institutes as a complementary pillar to Ontario’s postsecondary education system — alongside the province’s 45 publicly funded colleges and universities.

Recognizing Indigenous Institutes builds on the Province’s historic $56 million investment in Indigenous learners, announced in the 2017 Budget, as an important part of a thriving postsecondary system and a key step towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Ontario.

Investing in Postsecondary Education Infrastructure

Ontario’s postsecondary institutions play an important role in equipping students with the skills, knowledge and competencies required to succeed in a rapidly changing social, economic and technological world. Ensuring that postsecondary institutions across the province are equipped with the right space and technology is important to delivering quality higher education. To support this, the Province will provide more than $3 billion in capital grants to postsecondary institutions over the next 10 years.

Population growth in Ontario has been, and is expected to continue to be, concentrated in a number of large urban areas, especially in communities such as York, Peel and Halton. To respond to this growth, the Province is investing in Major Capacity Expansion projects, which include new university-led postsecondary sites in Markham, Brampton and Milton.

Enhancing the Commitment to Modernize Postsecondary Institutions

In addition, over the next three years, the Province will more than double the funding under the College Equipment and Renewal Fund — with an increase from $8 million to $20 million per year. This investment will provide colleges with support to invest in cutting-edge equipment and technology to ensure students’ skills are aligned with the tools industry is using today. The Province will provide a new investment of over $500 million starting in 2020–21 to help renew and modernize Ontario’s university and college campuses. Investments will support institutions to update classrooms and labs, and undertake facility retrofits and other renewal projects to enhance students’ learning experience.

To meet this commitment, the Province will collaborate with universities and colleges to identify opportunities for specific investments in facility renewal that enhance the student experience.

Giving Students a Strong Foundation

Students should have the best learning experiences and opportunities to grow to be prepared for their careers and the futures they aspire to. Ontario’s publicly funded education system is recognized as one of the best in the world. This is demonstrated by the 20 per cent increase in high school graduation rates since 2004. This is why the Province continues to work with education partners and parents to help all students achieve their potential and succeed, not only in the classroom, but in their communities and their future careers.

Preparing for Success in High School

Ontario is committed to ensuring that all students are equipped to explore pathways to apprenticeship, college, university and the workplace.

Students, parents, and educators have identified Grades 7 and 8 as crucial years where greater support is needed. That is why the government will invest more than $120 million over the next three years to help students prepare for success in high school by ensuring that flexible supports are available in response to local needs and priorities.

Career guidance has been shown to be a mechanism that promotes lifelong learning and improved education and employment outcomes.5 The Province’s investment will fund over 450 new guidance teachers who will help students engage in career and pathways planning. This would enable school boards to nearly double the number of elementary guidance teachers and offer their Grades 7 and 8 elementary students the same access to guidance teachers as students in secondary school. The targeted investment will help support teachers to:

  • Prepare students for their academic transition to high school;
  • Engage students in experiential learning that provides exposure to role models and positive examples of a diversity of careers; and
  • Encourage high expectations for all students and facilitate exploration of all pathway options.

Increasing the number of guidance teachers will give more students greater access to timely support that is tailored to their needs in the areas of personal, interpersonal and career development.

Refreshing Curriculum and Assessment to Support Student Achievement

To help every student reach their full potential, Ontario is launching an ambitious multi-year initiative to modernize curriculum and assessment tools from kindergarten to Grade 12 so that they are culturally relevant, measure a wider range of learning, and better reflect student well-being and equity.

Ontario’s updated school curriculum will be developed through public consultations with the goal of improving student achievement in core skills, such as math and literacy. An updated curriculum will also emphasize transferable life skills such as communication, problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity that can help students thrive as they grow up in a changing, interconnected world.

Investing in Students’ Learning through a Renewed Math Strategy

Math is a critical requirement for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The government is committed to help support students across the province achieve better results in mathematics through the Renewed Math Strategy, launched in 2016. This strategy includes: 

  • Every elementary student receiving 60 minutes each day of math instruction;
  • Up to three math lead teachers in all elementary schools;
  • Parent resources to support learning at home; and
  • Better access to online math resources and free tutoring.

Enhancing Education in Career/Life Planning

Ontario’s secondary schools provide important pathways and learning opportunities for students to develop the competencies needed to pursue fulfilling careers. Ontario is enhancing the Grade 10 Career Studies course, introducing learning on financial and digital literacy, as well as expanding hands-on learning opportunities that will better prepare students to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. The course will enable Ontario’s youth to plan and create budgets, develop resources to support the transition into the workforce, make connections with local entrepreneurs and employ effective online research strategies.

Growing the Specialist High Skills Major Program

Ontario’s world-class education system provides students with the skills and training needed to be successful. However, graduates often face challenges landing their first job due to a lack of work-related experience. The Province is working to close the career-readiness gap by continuing to invest in the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program. The SHSM program enables students in Grades 11 and 12 to focus their learning on a specific economic sector, while meeting the requirements for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, and assists in their transition from secondary school to apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace. In June 2017, the Province announced the expansion of the SHSM program to introduce 17,000 more students, over the next three years, to career options while obtaining their high school diplomas. Approximately 50,000 students are currently enrolled in almost 1,900 SHSM programs at over 700 high schools in Ontario.

Enhancing Access and Engagement through Digital Learning

Graduates are entering a world that is more globally connected and technologically engaged than ever before. Expanding digital learning opportunities will better prepare students to succeed in a rapidly changing economy by providing them with the knowledge and tools employers are looking for.

Child using her tablet.
Ontario is creating engaging places to learn for all students through innovative technology and digital learning.

Improving access to digital learning resources enables more students and educators to build their digital skills and take advantage of high-quality online courses, regardless of where they attend public school.

That is why the Province is improving access to high-speed Internet at publicly funded schools. Ontario is connecting an additional 250,000 students at approximately 850 schools with high-speed Internet access by the end of 2018, and is on track to bring high-speed Internet access to every classroom by 2021.

In addition, the Province is building students’ digital skills with investments in new classroom technology. Through the Technology and Learning Fund, students across the province are experiencing a wide range of digital learning opportunities, including robotics and coding activities, assistive technologies and digitally facilitated connections with other students, classrooms, schools and experts, across Canada and the world.

Focusing on Well-Being, Equity and New Approaches to Learning

Two girls playing together.
To promote student success, Ontario is developing programs to address students’ overall well-being.

Growing evidence demonstrates that student well-being is an important element of overall student success.6 That is why the Province is committed to programs, both inside and outside the classroom, to help improve well-being and equity for students and staff. Initiatives include:

  • Investing an additional $21 million over three years to provide students with access and exposure to arts education in dance, drama, music and visual arts.
  • Investing $49 million over three years, as announced in September 2017, to develop and strengthen programs that improve students’ cognitive, emotional, social and physical development.
  • Implementing the first Ontario Education Equity Action Plan, a roadmap to identifying and eliminating discriminatory and systemic practices, barriers and biases from schools and classrooms.
  • Developing an Education Accessibility Standard to help address barriers that prevent students with disabilities from reaching their full potential, and further support their ability to participate in society and the job market.
  • Collaborating with First Nation, Métis and Inuit partners to develop a revised curriculum for all students that reflects the contributions, cultures and perspectives of Indigenous peoples. The new curriculum for Grades 4 to 10 will be implemented in all schools starting in September 2018.
  • Investing $10 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, in the revitalization of Indigenous languages through 40 community-led programs, including language camps, Indigenous-language immersion programming and the creation of curriculum, games and apps to support language learning.
idea from the public

Budget Talks: Edible Garden Programs in Elementary Schools

This pilot was among the five most voted for ideas for funding through Budget Talks, an innovative online public consultation tool.

Up to 190 elementary schools across the province will receive one-time grants as a part of this funding so they can partner with local organizations to create edible gardens during the 2018–19 school year.

Edible gardens support student well-being and align with the government’s approach to healthy schools.

The idea will receive a one-time investment of $1 million in 2018–19. Progress updates will be provided throughout the year at

Investing in Schools

Students on computers at a high school.
Over 1,400 student spaces were created at St. Mary’s College in Sault Ste. Marie as a result of investments in new school construction.

Across the province, Ontario is investing almost $16 billion in capital grants over 10 years in new and improved schools, which will help deliver high-quality programs and increase student achievement and well-being. These capital investments are essential to address enrolment growth, renovate schools and ensure students across the province have fair access to quality education infrastructure.

Since 2013, the government has made a historic $9.1 billion investment in capital funding for school boards to support more than 160 new schools and more than 460 investments in school infrastructure, building or rebuilding one in six schools in Ontario, and enabling school space to become community hubs.

In 2018, the Province is investing an additional $784 million in new builds, additions and upgrades to 79 schools. These investments will ensure that students across the province have fair access to higher quality education and learning spaces.

Ontario will also continue with its commitment in school renewal by investing $1.4 billion in both the 2017–18 and 2018–19 school years. This is in addition to the $2.7 billion that was provided between the 2015–16 and 2016–17 school years. These investments will result in critical improvements to key building components that ensure student safety and improve energy efficiency.

Chart 2.3: Examples of School Projects Recently Approved
Accessible description of Chart 2.3

Welcoming Immigrants and Attracting International Talent

Maintaining an economic advantage means attracting top talent from around the world, and Ontario remains a highly desirable destination. Across the province, newcomers apply their diverse skills, contributing to growth in the labour force and Ontario’s economic growth as a whole. That is why Ontario is continuing to support various settlement and integration programs, such as the Ontario Bridge Training program that serves skilled newcomers by connecting them to the labour market. Each year, 6,000 highly skilled immigrants access Ontario’s bridge training projects in a broad range of occupations. The program seeks to reduce labour market integration barriers to help newcomers continue their careers in Ontario while contributing to the economy.

Chart 2.4: Bridge Training Projects: Changing the System
Accessible description of Chart 2.4

To build upon this important initiative, the government is investing an additional $45.6 million over three years into the Ontario Bridge Training program, serving up to 14,000 more skilled immigrants. Bridge training has a high success rate of about 70 per cent for licensure and job acquisition, ensuring better labour-market outcomes for skilled immigrants. The expansion of the program will increase access to bridging programs in more communities to meet diverse needs and address gaps for in-demand occupations, significantly expanding mentoring programs in underserviced communities and increasing access to loans to make the program more accessible and effective.

Welcoming Immigrants through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program

Ontario is welcoming even more economic immigrants to the province this year through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). Recognizing the success of the OINP and its importance to Ontario’s economy, the federal government has increased the province’s 2018 allocation by 600 nominees to a total of 6,600. Ontario’s program is now the largest in Canada, and recognizes Ontario’s role as a key driver of the national economy and of the success of this program.

Helping Ontario’s Vulnerable Newcomers Settle and Succeed

Ontario recognizes the unique skills and perspectives that newcomers bring to the province and is committed to helping them succeed. That is why, in 2017–18, the Province provided over $110 million for employment supports, language training in English and French, and settlement services to enable timely economic and social integration of immigrants and refugees.

From 2015 to 2017, Ontario’s communities received 41 per cent of Canada’s resettled refugee population.7 In response, the Province is supporting a total of 95 new projects that will help improve social and economic outcomes for refugees and other vulnerable newcomers. These projects include a variety of economic integration services such as employment support, occupation-specific training, language learning and entrepreneurship supports.

Ontario’s strong, ongoing support for refugees and all newcomers is helping ensure local settlement agencies have the resources they need to foster a smooth transition to life as an Ontarian. By promoting the well-being of refugees, nurturing their skills and allowing their ideas to flourish, we are building a more diverse, successful Ontario.”

Debbie Douglas, Executive Director,
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)

These supports will prepare Ontario to welcome high numbers of refugees and newcomers in the coming years, and ease their integration into Ontario’s economy and communities.

Enhancing the Multicultural Community Capacity Grant

In the 2017 Budget, the Province established the Multicultural Community Capacity Grant program to help build diverse and inclusive communities by helping newcomers and ethnocultural communities fully participate in civic, cultural and economic life in Ontario. Building on the success of this program, the government will be adding a capital stream to help organizations plan long-term initiatives that will improve services to Ontario’s communities.

Creating an International Postsecondary Education Strategy

International education and international students have become an important part of Ontario’s college and university sector, representing Ontario’s role as a leader in international education and diversity. It is estimated that international students contribute over $5 billion to Ontario’s economy every year.8

In consultation with students, colleges, universities and community representatives, the government has developed an International Post-Secondary Education (PSE) Strategy.

The strategy will promote international education in Ontario and support international students through initiatives such as:

  • An Internationalization Fund to help colleges and universities develop programming that will enhance students’ international competencies and knowledge, through international curricula, collaborative online international learning and other initiatives;
  • Study-abroad scholarships for domestic students;
  • An International Student Support Services Fund to enhance experiences for international students on campuses;
  • An expansion of the International Student Connect Pilot Program to support students with social service and settlements needs; and
  • Promotion of French-language education in partnership with Advantage Ontario through recruitment and partnership initiatives that promote French-language institutions in Ontario as study destinations.

Improving Business Competitiveness

Ontario’s economy continues to be strong. But to succeed in a rapidly changing global economic environment, the Province needs to be proactive by supporting investments that make business operations more competitive and efficient, and that put the skills of Ontario workers to good use.

As part of the Good Jobs and Growth Plan, the Province will renew, enhance and extend the Jobs and Prosperity Fund (JPF) with an increase of $900 million over the next 10 years, for a total of $3.2 billion in support since 2014–15. The fund will support investments designed to help Ontario’s businesses grow with the aim of creating and retaining over 70,000 jobs in Ontario and leveraging more than $9 billion in private-sector investments. Provincial support will also help businesses work with education and training partners to retrain employees, hire students through co-op programs and expand the talent pipeline within companies. The renewed JPF will encourage business investments in machinery, equipment and innovation, and protect intellectual property assets.

The JPF will also provide Ontario with the flexibility to take further action to support businesses and workers and sectors of the economy that may be impacted by an uncertain and rapidly changing global environment. Through its nine programs, the JPF will allow the Province to provide financial support, such as loans and grants, to companies to help them grow their business and help create good jobs.

The Province recognizes that global developments such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations and U.S. tax reforms present risks that are not fully resolved or understood, and that further unanticipated developments could occur. Together with the government’s skills strategy, the JPF provides the strategies and resources necessary to preserve and build on Ontario’s core economic strengths and respond to the challenges of uncertainty.

Chart 2.5: A Renewed Jobs and Prosperity Fund
Accessible description of Chart 2.5

Since 2015, the Province has helped create and retain more than 36,000 private-sector jobs, many of which are highly skilled, and has attracted over $7.1 billion in total investment through the Jobs and Prosperity Fund’s New Economy, Forestry Growth, and Food and Beverage funds.

Table 2.1 Recent Strategic Investments through the Jobs and Prosperity Fund
Company Investment Job Impact Sector
MHI Canada Aerospace
Up to $4.9 million 726 jobs created and retained Aerospace
Canada Royal Milk ULC – Feihe International
Up to $24 million 277 jobs created and retained Dairy product manufacturing
Lavern Heideman & Sons Limited
Up to $4 million 108 jobs created and retained Forestry – sawmill

The JPF and other government partnership programs support high-quality local jobs by requiring contracts to include job commitments that must be reached to receive payment.

Attracting and Retaining Major Investments in Ontario

Ontario continues to be one of North America’s leaders in attracting foreign direct investment and good jobs. To ensure Ontario remains a desirable place to live, work and invest, the government is renewing the JPF to help companies create new or expanded facilities, upgrade their machinery and equipment, and improve the skills of workers.

New Economy Fund

Ontario’s ability to grow and diversify its economy has been further strengthened through the Province’s strategic investments in priority sectors such as advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology (ICT), life sciences and cleantech. The Province’s New Economy Fund will help companies stay at the leading edge of these industries, while creating and retaining good jobs and attracting significant private-sector investments. The Province is investing an additional $500 million over the next 10 years in the fund with the aim to create and retain over 20,000 jobs and attract $5.7 billion in investments.

Forestry Growth Fund

The Ontario forestry sector directly employs more than 46,000 workers across Ontario, and provides significant employment in northern Ontario. To support the vitality of the sector, Ontario will continue to partner with business through the Forestry Growth Fund. As the forestry sector faces uncertainty with U.S. trade policy, such as the current softwood lumber dispute, this fund will support continued productivity and innovation enhancements, increased competitiveness, access to new global markets and strengthened supply chains. Through the fund, the Province will continue to invest $30 million over the next three years.

Food and Beverage Growth Fund

The food and beverage sectors are the largest purchasers of Canadian agricultural products. The prosperity of these sectors drives the success of Ontario’s farms, farmers and the communities they live in. To maintain its support for the sector, the Province will continue to deliver the Food and Beverage Growth Fund to help food, beverage and other related manufacturers remain competitive, support jobs and communities across the province, and help Ontario’s farmers. Through the fund, the Province will continue to invest $120 million over the next three years.

Supporting Innovation, Startups and Scale-Ups

The Province supports innovators and entrepreneurship through various programs, such as the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). But high-growth, high potential firms that have benefited from these programs need additional support to continue their development. To ensure that innovative companies continue to thrive and grow in Ontario, the Province is expanding the JPF to better serve innovative startups and scale-ups.

Venture Technologies Fund

Innovative high-growth companies often face unique challenges obtaining capital to scale up and create good jobs due to limited profits and few tangible assets. Even with a strong provincial venture capital market, only a small proportion of Ontario-based companies have access to venture capital financing. For this reason, the Province is creating the Venture Technologies Fund. The fund will help a select number of very high-potential fast-growing firms grow from the earliest stages of development into world-class companies, helping them leverage their talent and commercialize their products and intellectual property. The Venture Technologies Fund will complement the successful Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program, which has provided 25 vouchers, worth nearly $8 million, to innovative firms. It will also strengthen the Province’s efforts to transition to a knowledge-based economy by providing valuable goods and services to the people of Ontario as well as other businesses, both here and abroad. The Province will invest $85 million in the fund over the next 10 years, which will aim to create and retain over 5,000 jobs, while attracting over $250 million in investments.

Transformative Technology Partnerships Fund

Transformative technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), 5G wireless communications, autonomous vehicles, advanced computing and quantum technologies are improving Ontario’s workforce productivity. These technologies are also critically important to sectors such as advanced manufacturing, ICT and others, helping to keep Ontario globally competitive in these industries. The Province is creating the Transformative Technology Partnerships Fund to accelerate the development and commercialization of these technologies within the province, creating new jobs and attracting private-sector investment. This fund will bring together technology adopters (businesses), technology developers (small and medium-sized enterprises, and scale-ups), as well as postsecondary and research institutions to collaborate on new dynamic products and services. The government’s $50 million investment over the next 10 years in this fund will aim to create and retain over 3,600 high value jobs, while attracting $1 billion in investments.

Supporting Regional Economic Development

Regional economic development is essential to ensuring inclusive growth and social well-being across Ontario. In 2017, all regions of Ontario saw declines in unemployment rates. However, regional variations in economic performance across the province persist, and some regions continue to experience stronger employment growth than others. The Province is making strategic investments to ensure all regions within Ontario are benefiting from strong economic growth, creating and retaining well-paying jobs that support local communities.

Eastern Ontario Development Fund and Southwestern Ontario Development Fund

Rural road with small businesses.
Ontario is taking steps to create jobs in all regions of the province, including rural areas and small towns.

The Good Jobs and Growth Plan includes an investment in the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund and the Eastern Ontario Development Fund to support the needs of all businesses, including those in rural and small communities. These two funds will also place greater emphasis on helping businesses stay competitive by improving regional productivity, innovation and exports.

The Province will invest an additional $100 million in these funds over the next 10 years and will aim to create and retain approximately 19,000 jobs and attract more than $800 million in investments.

Since January 2013, the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund and Eastern Ontario Development Fund have helped create and retain more than 48,000 jobs and attract more than $2.3 billion in investment.

Table 2.2 Recent Regional Development Investments
Company Investment Outcome Description
Prysmian Group Up to $616,600 212 jobs created and retained Supporting competitiveness in the energy and telecom cables and systems industries in Johnstown through the Eastern Ontario Development Fund.
Toyotetsu Canada Up to $1,177,500 621 jobs created and retained Supporting improvement in production capabilities in the auto sector in Simcoe through the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Fund

To improve the efficiency of businesses, and allow the Province to respond to a rapidly changing economic environment, the government will create a new Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Fund. This fund will fill a critical gap in regional development by investing in and supporting small and medium-sized businesses in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. The government’s $100 million commitment over the next 10 years aims to create and retain approximately 19,000 jobs and attract about $800 million in investments.

Communities in Transition Fund

Communities can experience challenges due to the loss of a major employer, the availability of skilled workers, or their remote location. To help support regions with these challenges and others, the Province will provide an additional $5 million to the Communities in Transition Fund. This fund will help regions with their economic plans and build upon their regional strengths and assets, while supporting community responses to economic uncertainty. The fund will also provide resources to support local workforce strategies to identify opportunities for investment in areas of talent that are complementary to local economic plans.

Strengthening Economic Development in Northern Communities

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) plays a critical role in economic growth through job creation across northern Ontario. Through collaborations with the public and private sectors, the NOHFC serves as a catalyst for key strategic investments that stimulate economic development and diversification across the region. The people of northern Ontario know that the unique characteristics and qualities of their region require a bold, flexible and forward-thinking vision to drive economic growth.

Ontario is continuing to promote fairness, opportunity and inclusive growth by investing $85 million over the next three years, increasing NOHFC funding to $150 million in 2020–21 and introducing new NOHFC programs. The new programs will support socioeconomic infrastructure projects and large-scale transformational investment opportunities that facilitate job creation and retention, productivity, and innovation in the north.

The new NOHFC programs along with the increased funding will encourage further investments and will continue to help bolster the northern economy.

Since January 2013, the NOHFC has approved $621 million in funding for over 3,800 projects, creating and retaining over 15,300 jobs and leveraging more than $2.2 billion in investment.

Supporting Development in the Ring of Fire

Ontario, in partnership with Indigenous communities, is working towards sustainable development in the Ring of Fire region located about 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. The region represents a significant new mineral resource area in northern Ontario, with world-class deposits of chromite as well as significant discoveries of nickel, copper, zinc, gold and other minerals. Ontario has committed up to $1 billion for strategic transportation infrastructure development in the Ring of Fire region. In August 2017, Ontario announced it was working with Webequie, Marten Falls and Nibinamik First Nations to plan and construct a year-round access road into the proposed mining development site that would also include connections to the communities.

In addition, Ontario is working with and providing financial and other supports to First Nation communities to ensure that they can actively participate in the decision-making processes to develop the region and fully benefit from potential developments. In October 2017, Ontario committed up to $30 million to the Matawa First Nations Management (MFNM) as part of the federal and provincial governments’ joint broadband investment of up to $69.2 million to install approximately 880 kilometres of new fibre optic cable to five Matawa-member First Nations.

Reducing Ontario’s Electricity Costs for Businesses

To maintain a competitive business climate in Ontario, the government has taken action by helping to manage electricity costs for business. Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan, introduced in 2017, is already benefiting as many as half a million eligible farms and small businesses in the Regulated Price Plan (RPP) through bill reductions. In addition, many manufacturing and greenhouse businesses are finding relief through expanded eligibility for the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI). As committed to in the Long-Term Energy Plan, the government is striving to make energy more affordable.

Supporting Northern Businesses

The Province will continue to support some of the biggest employers in northern Ontario in the mining and manufacturing sectors, including eligible forestry companies, by providing ongoing annual support through the improved Northern Industrial Electricity Rate (NIER) program. Participants receive a rebate of $20 per megawatt-hour (MWh) on eligible consumption, and, on average, electricity prices can be reduced by about 25 per cent.

Chart 2.6: Reducing Electricity Costs for Businesses
Accessible description of Chart 2.6

Reducing Red Tape

Ontario’s measures to cut red tape and develop a more effective and efficient regulatory system have already saved business over $152 million since 2011, while protecting workers and the environment. To further improve this effort, the Province is working with businesses and the public to help identify and improve regulations that are unclear, outdated, redundant or unnecessarily costly. Part of this effort requires all ministries to offset every dollar of new administrative costs to business by removing $1.25 of old and unnecessary costs, while protecting environmental, health and worker safety standards.

Supporting a Competitive Tax Environment

Ontario, in partnership with the federal government, has worked hard to keep Ontario businesses competitive. Tax reforms included the implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), the reduction of Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rates, the elimination of the Capital Tax and cuts to Business Education Tax rates, which have improved global competitiveness and led to greater investments in the province.

These tax reforms have led to a combined federal–Ontario general CIT rate of 26.5 per cent that is the lowest in Canada.

Ontario is committed to maintaining a competitive tax system as one of the underlying economic strengths that makes the province an attractive location for businesses to locate and expand operations.

The Province is proposing to improve competitiveness by:

  • Helping companies commercialize the intellectual property resulting from R&D.
  • Enhancing the Ontario Research and Development Tax Credit. This additional support would encourage large companies to continuously invest in R&D.
  • Strengthening the Ontario Innovation Tax Credit to encourage smaller companies to make investments in R&D that will help them grow.

See Chapter V, Section A: Tax Measures for more details.

Continuing to Support Small Business

Street with small businesses.
Ontario is supporting growth and lowering costs for small businesses in places like Streetsville, a community in Mississauga.

Ontario is supporting growth and lowering costs for small businesses in communities across the province. About one‐third of Ontario workers are employed by small businesses, which have always been significant contributors to the success of the provincial economy.

As part of the 2017 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, the Province announced more than $500 million in new initiatives over the next three years to lower costs and support small businesses in Ontario. This included a 22 per cent cut to the small business Corporate Income Tax rate, from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

Additionally, in fall 2017, the government committed to designating 33 per cent of its procurement spending on goods and services from small and medium-sized businesses by 2020. Ontario will make it easier for small businesses to become a vendor to government through targeted trade shows, webinars and information sessions.

Reviewing Government Supports for Beverage Alcohol

Ontario has increased convenience for consumers, while maintaining Ontario’s commitment to social responsibility. Ontario wineries, cideries, distilleries and breweries have shown their ability to compete and produce world-class products.

Ontario has a thriving beverage alcohol sector that supports local agriculture and brings jobs to communities across the province. Ontario is committed to fostering a more innovative and dynamic business environment and will undertake a comprehensive review of government supports for beverage alcohol producers. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will work with wine, cider, spirits and beer producers to develop a new multi-year strategy for industry growth that is consistent with Ontario’s internal and international trade obligations.

Helping Microbrewers and Small Beer Manufacturers Grow in Ontario

Ontario’s small brewer supports have contributed to substantial growth in the sector, creating a new microbrewery segment in Ontario’s beer market. The government proposes to modernize and make changes to the microbrewer definition and the Small Beer Manufacturer’s Tax Credit to ensure that small beer manufacturers and microbrewers continue to have the incentives to grow and fuel economic development in local communities.

The government proposes to make these changes effective March 1, 2018.

Accelerating and Diversifying Trade in Ontario

Ontario’s export activity supports one in five jobs in the province and nearly 20 per cent of the provincial GDP.9 Expanding international trade will help protect and grow Ontario’s long-term economic health by increasing export markets and building more strategic partnerships. As the global market experiences greater uncertainty with international trade, the Province is working to implement a Global Trade Strategy to promote new economic and business partnerships around the world. Key initiatives under this strategy include:

  • Providing the Accelerate to International Markets program, which helps Ontario businesses select and develop market entry strategies by providing interactive workshops and one-on-one advisory services across the province and across multiple sectors.
  • Supporting export activities of small and medium-sized enterprises through the Global Growth Fund, administered by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, by providing market research, export management services and trade missions for businesses with strong growth potential.
  • Creating the Magnet Export Business Portal to export-related programs and services offered by all levels of government as well as industry associations.
  • Expanding Ontario’s international footprint by growing the province’s presence in key markets, identifying potential business partners and providing assistance with the regulatory environment and import requirements.
  • Putting a stronger focus on reverse trade missions, bringing global buyers and partners to Ontario and leveraging existing global conferences.

Standing Up for Ontario Business and Workers

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the United States and Mexico creates one of the world’s largest free trade markets, fostering integration between national and subnational economies in the region by linking over 480 million people and over C$26 trillion worth of goods and services.

Ontario views the continuing NAFTA negotiations as an opportunity to modernize the existing agreement to provide greater benefits for Ontario workers and businesses. To this end, the government is actively engaging the federal government, other provinces and territories, and Ontario businesses to ensure the province’s economic interests are well represented during these important negotiations. Through this engagement the government is also seeking to ensure a modernized NAFTA maintains Canada’s existing level of market access and continues to drive trade and investment growth across North America.

The government will continue to work with its partners and vigorously defend the interests of Ontario’s industries and workers throughout the NAFTA negotiations.

Calling on Federal CPTPP Transitional Assistance

In March 2018, Canada, along with its 10 partners, signed the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). While CPTPP supports Ontario’s goals of greater trade diversification by providing new and expanded opportunities for Ontario businesses and industries, the previous federal government acknowledged that it would also create challenges for Ontario. To ensure the CPTPP does not come at the expense of Ontario’s businesses and workers, the federal government committed in 2015 to providing transitional assistance for the automotive and agriculture sectors.

Now, Ontario is calling on the federal government to fulfill its previous commitments and help these sectors adjust to the new realities and opportunities created by the CPTPP before ratifying the deal. The Province is requesting at least $1.26 billion in assistance for the auto sector and $1.4 billion for the agri-food sector to support productivity-enhancing mechanisms that will help businesses adjust.

Ontario’s businesses and workers in the auto and agri-food sectors should not be placed at an unfair disadvantage by CPTPP. The Province will continue to lobby the federal government to secure transitional assistance before the deal is ratified and ensure that the Province’s interests are represented.

Promoting Trade and Economic Opportunities with International Partners

Expanding and diversifying international trade creates new opportunities for businesses to increase their sales globally. For this reason, over the past two years, the government led trade missions to provide opportunities for Ontario businesses to engage with foreign businesses in high-growth economies. Successes include:

  • Over 130 ministry-led trade missions, which have resulted in $1.4 billion in potential export sales and provided over 1,300 Ontario companies with exposure to international markets.
  • Premier-led trade missions that have generated more than $2.5 billion worth of investments and partnerships, including over 170 new agreements, which have also created almost 3,000 jobs in Ontario.
Chart 2.7: Select Recent Premier International Trade Missions
Accessible description of Chart 2.7

Promoting Fairness in Cross-Border Government Procurement

The Province’s commitment to an open, fair and competitive model for cross-border procurement is underscored by its commitment to Ontario workers and businesses. The recent Buy American actions at the state level could restrict Ontario businesses’ ability to bid on certain U.S. state government contracts and unfairly limit opportunities for Ontario firms and workers. The Fairness in Procurement Act, which received Royal Assent on March 8, 2018, enables the Province to bring in responsive regulations that would be designed to be in proportion to restrictions and discriminatory actions made by states.

Championing Women’s Economic Empowerment

Event celebrating women in STEM.
Women in STEM represent Ontario’s commitment to bridge the gender gap by removing barriers and promoting diversity.

Equitable workplaces are crucial to a thriving economy and society. For women, fairness includes addressing the systemic barriers that hinder their full workforce participation.

In Ontario, women are responsible for 50 per cent more unpaid care and household work10 and are often overrepresented in lower paying service jobs. While the work of caring for loved ones is crucial, the burden of care and other unpaid work falls primarily on women and limits their ability to fully participate in the economy.

Since 2014, the government has introduced a number of significant measures to help address unpaid care responsibilities — including improving and expanding long-term care, simplifying the Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit, and increasing the accessibility and availability of child care spaces across the province. Ontario was also pleased to see the federal government’s announcement, in its 2018 budget, of a new Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit.

However, there is more to be done to address systemic barriers to women’s full economic participation. Women’s full engagement in the economy could add approximately $60 billion to Ontario’s GDP by 2026.11 Advancing women’s economic empowerment is good for business, good for the economy and good for society. That is why the government is implementing a three-year Women’s Economic Empowerment Strategy to ensure women have the supports they need to participate and succeed in the province’s workforce.

The strategy’s key pillars include:

  • Creating fairer workplaces by increasing pay and workforce transparency, and by investing in initiatives to support women’s access to opportunities and good quality jobs;
  • Supporting leadership by investing in female entrepreneurs and supporting women’s career advancement and leadership on boards, in senior management roles and in communities;
  • Removing systemic barriers that prevent women’s full economic participation by developing a return-to-work program for women and continuing to encourage sharing of caregiving responsibilities; and
  • Changing perspectives about gender by incorporating more gender-based analysis in government policy development and increasing social awareness and education.

Closing the Gender Wage Gap

In Ontario, it takes women 15.5 months, on average, to earn what men make in one year.12 Building on the recommendations of the Gender Wage Gap Working Group and the Gender Wage Gap Strategy Steering Committee, the government is taking concrete steps to improve women’s economic well-being by promoting pay transparency in the workplace.

Key steps the government is taking to close the gender wage gap include:

  • Introducing historic and comprehensive legislation to increase pay transparency in the hiring process and ensuring employees are not punished for discussing their pay with their employers or co-workers;
  • Phasing in transparency in pay and workforce composition in public and private sectors through requiring prescribed employers to report on aggregate pay gaps and workforce composition by gender and other diversity characteristics; and
  • Ensuring enhanced enforcement and education by increasing the government’s investment in the Pay Equity Office by 25 per cent.

Addressing the gender wage gap and boosting women’s labour force participation helps counteract the effect of an aging population on the labour force. It also supports growth in skills for women and higher productivity, harnessing women’s contributions to the province’s economic prosperity.

Increasing the Number of Women on Boards

Increasing the number of women on boards is not only good for society, it is also good for the economy. Research points to a significant relationship between board gender diversity and corporate performance, noting that organizations with gender diverse boards and senior leadership teams:13

  • Exhibit higher returns on equity, higher valuations and higher profits;
  • File more patents;
  • Drive innovation; and
  • Outperform their peers by more than three per cent.

There is no shortage of talented and qualified women with the skills, education and experience to take on the challenges of corporate leadership. In March 2018, the government released its plan to promote Women in Corporate Leadership — laying the groundwork to advance gender diversity in leadership positions, and in particular, targets for board composition. These include:

  • By 2019, women are to make up at least 40 per cent of all appointments to every Provincial board and agency; and
  • Businesses are encouraged to set a target of appointing 30 per cent women to their boards of directors and achieve this target by 2020 to 2022.

The government is also moving forward with a plan to leverage its buying power to encourage large firms that sign new contracts with Ontario to:

  • Reach the government’s target of 30 per cent women on private-sector boards;
  • Develop written policies to promote women on boards and in executive officer positions; or
  • Consider and introduce board renewal strategies.

Going forward, the government will continue to monitor progress in both the public and private sectors, as well as explore opportunities for further initiatives.

Fostering Fair Workplaces

Fairness for Workers

Over the past three years, Ontario’s economy has continued to grow — creating jobs, raising incomes and reducing the unemployment rate to a 17-year low. However, not everyone in the labour market has felt this growth. Approximately one-third of workers in Ontario are vulnerable workers in precarious work,16 and they often face uncertainty, limited social benefits and difficulty earning a decent income.

Increases to the minimum wage are a step towards ensuring that low-wage workers in precarious jobs are treated more fairly. The introduction of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. It builds on the government’s 2017 Budget commitment to modernize Ontario’s employment and labour laws, to help safeguard employees, ensure fairer workplaces and support better jobs.

The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017:

  • Raised the minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of workers receive a raise, and will raise it to $15 per hour on January 1, 2019;
  • Ensures part-time workers are paid the same hourly wage as full-time workers;
  • Introduces paid sick days for every worker;
  • Introduces 10 personal emergency leave days for workers, including two paid days;
  • Introduces new minimum standards for scheduling, including requiring employees to be paid for three hours of work if their shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its scheduled start time;
  • Ensures at least three weeks’ vacation after five years with the same employer; and
  • Steps up enforcement of employment laws.

The passage of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, is an important step forward to improving protections for workers. This legislation will reduce income inequality and improve the working lives of millions of Ontarians. Given the rise in precarious work and wage stagnation, these improvements can’t happen quickly enough.”

Sheila Block, Senior Economist,
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Ontario Office

Strengthening and Modernizing Retirement Security

Pensions play a significant role in people’s retirement security. However, many Ontarians are worried they will not have enough savings to provide the income they will need to maintain their standard of living in retirement. In fact, two-thirds of workers do not have a workplace pension plan. The Province has taken a number of measures to improve the sustainability of pension plans and provide Ontarians with the retirement income they need to feel safe and secure about their futures.

Enhancing the Canada Pension Plan

The nature of work is changing across the globe. Workplace pension plan coverage has declined and people are living longer. Acknowledging these changes, Ontario took a national leadership role to enhance the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), which will provide a meaningful increase in people’s future retirement incomes. The CPP enhancement was the culmination of years of effort by Ontario working with the federal government and other provinces and territories to address the retirement savings needs of today’s workers.

In December 2017, federal, provincial and territorial Finance Ministers agreed on further changes to improve the fairness of the CPP enhancement. These changes include provisions to help protect the value of the enhanced retirement benefits for workers, particularly women who take time out of the labour force to raise children, and those who are unable to work as a result of a disability.

Finance Ministers also adopted a framework to ensure the CPP enhancement remains appropriately funded and managed, helping to protect benefits for future retirees.

Ontario Pension Funding Reforms

While acting on the national stage is important, it is also critical to help ensure the long-term sustainability of Ontario’s workplace pension plans. That is why the government has made changes to the frameworks for defined benefit and multi-employer pension plans.

Defined Benefit Pension Plans

In May 2017, the government announced a new framework for defined benefit pension plans in Ontario. This new funding framework includes certain measures aimed at improving retirement income security for workers and retirees, while encouraging businesses to maintain their pension plans and enabling those businesses to grow and compete.

Amendments to the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) were made in December 2017 to enable the regulations required to implement the framework. Details of key components of the new framework were posted on Ontario’s regulatory registry for stakeholder comment. Feedback received is being considered as part of the development of the regulations to implement the new funding regime.

Target Benefit Multi-Employer Pension Plans

Multi-employer pension plans (MEPPs) provide workers with the flexibility to maintain their pension coverage while changing employers throughout their career.

In June 2017, the government announced a new framework for eligible MEPPs to offer target benefits to help ensure these plans are sustainable over the long term.

To help implement this commitment, the government made a number of amendments to the PBA, including rules for the conversion of accrued defined benefits to target benefits provided by eligible MEPPs.

The government is planning to consult on key design features of the new framework this spring. Additionally, to allow time for plans to transition to the proposed new framework, the government intends to extend the temporary funding rules currently in place for specified Ontario multi-employer pension plans.

Protecting Ontario’s Pension Plan Members

Workplace pension plans are an integral component of the retirement income system. However, when employers are unable to fully deliver on their pension commitments, Ontarians’ retirement income security is threatened.

The Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund (PBGF) plays an important role in Ontario’s pension landscape as a safeguard for employees affected by employer insolvency when a defined benefit pension plan is wound up with insufficient plan assets to cover promised benefits. The PBGF is the only fund of its kind in Canada, and the government has taken steps to increase the support that it provides.

To improve benefit security for plan members and retirees, the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017, included amendments, not yet proclaimed, to increase the PBGF guarantee by 50 per cent from $1,000 to $1,500 per month, and eliminate the age and service eligibility requirements for PBGF coverage. The government will introduce legislative amendments that would make these changes retroactive to plans with a wind-up date on or after May 19, 2017, when the new funding framework was first announced. As a result, pension benefits from these plans would be covered under the increased $1,500 per month PBGF guarantee. This amendment is intended to apply to pension benefits provided to former Sears Canada employees.

Given the importance of the PBGF to retirement income security, the government will introduce legislative amendments that would require a periodic review of the provisions governing the PBGF.

Laying the Groundwork for Further Reform

In recent years, companies such as Sears Canada have entered the insolvency process with substantial unfunded pension liabilities, resulting in reduced benefits for pension beneficiaries. In its 2018 budget, the federal government highlighted this fact and committed to consulting with workers, pensioners and companies to find a balanced way forward. Ontario welcomes this initiative, and is also interested in working with employers and other pension stakeholders on ways to enhance pension protection.

In addition, Ontario will be proposing legislative amendments to:

  • Continue to take steps to transition to a new pension regulator, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA). As part of the new structure, the government will establish an advisory committee within FSRA that would be dedicated to overseeing issues related to the PBGF and pension plans with distressed sponsors.
  • Implement a disclosable events regime, similar to comparable regimes in the United Kingdom and the United States. Mandatory disclosure of certain corporate or plan events would increase transparency and alert the pension regulator to potential issues, such as significant asset stripping or the issuance of extraordinary dividends.
  • Introduce a distressed pension plan workout scheme, giving the pension regulator the appropriate tools to respond to pension plans with a distressed sponsor.

Taken together, these measures would provide additional tools to help protect Ontario pension plans and beneficiaries.   

The government will be consulting on the details of necessary regulatory amendments to support the proposed legislative measures.

Broader Public Sector Pension Reform

The government has also taken measures to support long-term sustainability and affordability of plans in the broader public sector (BPS).

For single-employer pension plans (SEPPs) in the broader public sector, such as those sponsored by universities and hospitals, the government provided temporary solvency funding relief to encourage plans to explore longer term solutions to help maintain their affordability. This temporary measure significantly reduced financial pressures on plan sponsors by providing $2.4 billion of relief up to the end of 2017, allowing them to protect the important front-line public services they provide the people of Ontario.

Permanent new measures include initiatives that allow plans to explore longer term solutions to improve affordability, such as consolidation and conversion to a jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) structure.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Pension Plan

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is actively working towards converting its plan from a SEPP to a JSPP. The WSIB has successfully obtained the required consent from plan members and retirees for the conversion to proceed. In support of the initiative, the government is introducing amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act that would help the WSIB in its efforts to reduce costs and manage premiums. Final approval of the conversion is subject to review and consent by the Superintendent of Financial Services. Following a successful conversion and a request from the newly established plan, the government intends to name it in regulation as exempt from solvency funding requirements, consistent with other broader public sector solvency-exempt JSPPs.

Delivering Electricity Rate Relief through Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan

Nearly $70 billion has been invested in the electricity system since 2003. These investments have several benefits, including providing a clean, reliable electricity system that meets the needs of Ontario families and businesses.

While these investments were necessary for a cleaner and more modern electricity system, they resulted in rising electricity rates. As announced in March 2017 under Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan, a portion of these costs is being refinanced, and recovery of these costs from ratepayers is being spread out over a longer period of time to better align with the timeframe of the benefits of these investments to Ontario electricity consumers. This has provided significant and immediate rate relief to eligible ratepayers and helps ensure intergenerational fairness.

Through this plan, as of July 1, 2017, Ontario has lowered electricity bills by 25 per cent on average for residential customers. Up to half a million eligible small businesses and farms are also receiving a benefit. Rate increases over four years will be held to the rate of inflation. While rates will rise gradually over time, the government remains committed to avoiding sharp increases.

With the implementation of Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan, residential electricity bills in Ontario are within the range of rates in other provinces and compare favourably to jurisdictions in the United States.

Additional Relief for Families through Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan

Ontario is committed to supporting people with low incomes and those living in eligible rural or remote communities by providing significant reductions — up to 40 or 50 per cent — on residential electricity bills. On-reserve First Nation residential customers of licensed distributors are being provided a 100 per cent credit on the delivery line of their bills.

As part of Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan, the Affordability Fund was launched on October 24, 2017, to help Ontarians not eligible for low-income conservation programs and who need support to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Eligible applicants are receiving benefits which could include, for example, LED light bulbs, power bars, energy-efficient appliances and better insulation.

Chart 2.8: Residential Electricity Bills — Selected Jurisdictions in Canada and the United States
Accessible description of Chart 2.8

Investing in Ontario’s Low-Carbon Economy

Climate change is not a distant threat; it is already having an impact on Ontario communities. Homes and businesses already face the consequences of extreme weather events, including severe storms, flooding and heat waves. To address such challenges, Ontario is taking an active role in global efforts to minimize risks from a changing climate. The government is taking this action by transitioning to a competitive and low‐carbon economy through investments in the development and adoption of green technologies that will create new opportunities for economic growth and jobs, while protecting the environment from further consequences of climate change.

Linking to Create the Second Largest Carbon Market in the World

Ontario’s cap-and-trade program is a market-based system that sets a hard cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while giving flexibility to businesses and industry. On January 1, 2018, Ontario linked its carbon market with those already existing in Quebec and California to form the world’s second largest carbon market. The linked cap-and-trade market was deemed “best-in-class” by Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner and will provide the most effective method to achieve GHG reduction targets, at the lowest cost to people and businesses. Independent economic analysis17 has also shown that a linked cap‐and‐trade market is the most cost‐effective way to achieve Ontario’s GHG reduction objectives.

Table 2.3 Carbon Pricing Scenarios — Impacts by 2020
  Ontario’s Approach Carbon Tax
Household Energy Impact ($/month; 2016 dollars) $13 $50
Carbon Price (2016 dollars) $18 $72
Net GHG Reduction 18.42 million tonnes 12.7 million tonnes

Source: EnviroEconomics, Navius Research and Dillon Consulting, “Impact Modelling and Analysis of Ontario’s Cap and Trade Program.”

In addition to a linked cap-and-trade market, Ontario businesses will have opportunities to reduce compliance costs by:

  • Investing in emissions-reducing technologies, including those supported by investments made through the Province’s Climate Change Action Plan; and
  • Purchasing offset credits.

Carbon Allowance Proceeds Are Helping Families and Businesses

Ontario’s Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016, dictates that all proceeds in carbon allowances must be used towards initiatives that are reasonably likely to reduce, or support the reduction of, GHG emissions.

In 2017–18, Ontario’s five auctions of GHG emission allowances generated $2.4 billion in proceeds that are supporting a wide spectrum of new programs guided by the Province’s five-year Climate Change Action Plan. These investments are already helping Ontario families and businesses reduce costs and transition to a low-carbon economy by:

  • Providing audits and retrofits to approximately 17,500 social housing apartment building units and 14,000 homes;
  • Implementing 180 projects in 98 hospitals to create energy-related savings;
  • Creating healthier, modern and more comfortable learning environments with new energy-efficient upgrades in nearly 600 schools across the province;
  • Partnering with 118 municipalities to build bike lanes and bike parking and support new cycling plans; and
  • Installing over 300 electric vehicle (EV) chargers, including over 140 level 3 fast chargers, creating the largest public fast-charging network in Canada.

To help people and businesses fight climate change and save money, Ontario launched the Green Ontario Fund using proceeds from Ontario’s carbon market. In its first year, GreenON:

  • Engaged 140,000 people in Ontario who will receive home energy audits and no-cost smart thermostats;
  • Offered a variety of rebates to help homeowners and businesses save money, including $7,200 off insulation, $5,000 off high-performance windows, $20,000 off ground source heat pumps, $5,800 off air source heat pumps and $100 off smart thermostats;
  • Provided ongoing access to free, impartial energy saving advice through the GreenON Support Line at 1-888-728-8444 or the GreenON website at;
  • Launched GreenON Industries to support major carbon reduction projects for large industrial emitters and improve business competitiveness;
  • Provided up to $25 million toward the GreenON Social Housing program;
  • Launched the GreenON Food Manufacturing and Agriculture programs to support Ontario farmers, and food and beverage producers; and
  • Launched the GreenON Challenge with funding of up to $300 million to encourage the development of innovative ultra-low carbon technologies and processes.

Looking Ahead

Ontario residents and businesses can look forward to many more carbon market investments over the coming years, including:

  • Up to $1.7 billion to invest in home energy renovations and Ontario businesses through the Green Ontario Fund;
  • Up to $1.3 billion to build Ontario’s new high-speed rail line and the GO Regional Express Rail all-day, 15‑minute electrified service;
  • Up to $800 million to help improve schools, hospitals, colleges and universities;
  • Up to $230 million to continue renovating social housing units; and
  • Up to $140 million to build more bike lanes, bike lockers and “First-mile/Last-mile” transit solutions.

I cite Ontario as an example of a provincial government that’s doing it right, creating jobs, building a base for economic progress while also staving off the severe danger the climate crisis poses to all of us.”

Al Gore, former U.S. vice-president,
March 8, 2018

Chart 2.9: Planned Use of Carbon Allowance Proceeds
Accessible description of Chart 2.9

Protecting the Environment for Ontario Families

Investing in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are vitally important to the health and well-being of the province, supplying drinking water to a majority of Ontarians. From population growth and climate change to harmful pollution and invasive species, today’s cumulative pressures are overwhelming the province’s water basin. To help ensure the sustainability and vibrancy of Ontario’s Great Lakes, the government will be investing an additional $52 million over three years to:

  • Invest in new technologies to address excessive algae, toxic chemicals, microplastics and road salt, and enhance real-time monitoring and research around the Great Lakes, with a primary focus on Lake Erie;
  • Better manage the impacts of population growth and development around Lake Ontario through the continuation of efforts to develop operational plans to help reduce pollution from combined sewer system overflows, and certification requirements and improved training for sewage plant operators;
  • Protect the health of Lake Erie by implementing the Canada–Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan. Working with all partners, the Province will support reductions of phosphorus loads from agricultural sources and support municipal wastewater and storm water management; and
  • Increase engagement with First Nation and Métis communities to create opportunities for engagement and relationship building through a shared desire to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes system.

Sarnia Health Study

The Province is moving forward with a study to identify the localized impact of air pollution on First Nations and Sarnia-area residents. The scope of the environmental health study will be determined through collaboration with First Nation communities, health agencies, the federal government and other partners. The study is expected to get underway in 2018.

Protecting Ontario’s Biodiversity

Ontario’s forests, wetlands, lakes and rivers provide clean water, support a diverse array of species and provide opportunities for recreation. As part of the Province’s efforts to preserve natural heritage, a $15 million investment will be made over the next three years.

Building Tomorrow’s Infrastructure Today

The government is building modern and efficient infrastructure that benefits the people of Ontario and the economy, creating jobs, and enhancing quality of life today and in the future. 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. The next 10 years of investment are expected to support about 140,000 jobs, on average, per year.

These investments build the infrastructure needed to move people and goods quickly and efficiently, attract business investments and expand opportunities for skilled workers.

Chart 2.10: Significant Infrastructure Investments
Accessible description of Chart 2.10

Trillium Trust

In March 2018, the government filed regulations under the Trillium Trust Act, 2014, designating an additional $1.1 billion in net proceeds to be added to the Trillium Trust. This would bring the total amount added to the Trillium Trust to $6.5 billion. Under the Act, every dollar dedicated to the Trust may only be allocated to support investments in infrastructure, including public transit, transportation and other priority infrastructure.

The government will allocate approximately $800 million from the Trillium Trust in 2018–19 to continue supporting key infrastructure investments across the province, such as Ottawa Light Rail Transit Stage 2, Hurontario Light Rail Transit, the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund and the Small Communities Fund. This builds on allocations projected to total about $500 million from 2016–17 to 2017–18.

Investing in Transit and Transportation Infrastructure

Over the next 10 years, the government is investing more than $106 billion on new and upgraded transit and transportation infrastructure to drive economic growth and support about 65,000 jobs, on average, each year.

GO Regional Express Rail

GO train at a station.
GO Regional Express Rail will provide faster and more frequent service for commuters and families.

The Province is making it easier for commuters and families to get around the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) by moving forward with the implementation of GO Regional Express Rail (RER), the largest rail project in Canada. GO RER will provide faster and more frequent service on the GO rail network, with electrified service on core segments, including the Union Pearson (UP) Express. Weekly trips across the entire GO rail network will quadruple from about 1,500 to nearly 6,000 once GO RER is delivered by 2024–25.

Work is already underway to increase capacity and enhance service across the GO network in support of GO RER.

In January 2018, the Province introduced new mid-day and evening weekday service between Union Station and Aurora GO Station on the Barrie corridor. Travellers along this section of the Barrie GO line now benefit from all-day train service, seven days a week, increasing the number of weekly passenger trips to about 105,000. These service enhancements are providing more transit options to commuters and families in Toronto, York Region and Simcoe County, and are helping to bring the Province one step closer to delivering 15-minute, two-way service between Union Station and Aurora as part of the GO RER plan.

GO RER projects and improvements are ongoing or planned along corridors and stations across the GO network, including:

  • Kipling Bus Terminal — Redevelopment of the area around Kipling GO Station and the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) Kipling Subway Station will integrate subway, GO rail, and local and regional bus services into a single mobility hub, providing a seamless traveller experience.
  • Lakeshore West corridor — Planned upgrades include the rehabilitation of Mimico Station, replacement of the Drury Lane pedestrian bridge, and track improvements that will increase service at Exhibition Station and accommodate increased capacity along the corridor.
  • Rutherford GO Station — Planned upgrades will help accommodate increased capacity on the Barrie GO corridor. These include new rail platforms, a full platform canopy, a new multi-level parking structure, a second heavy rail track and provision for a future third express centre track.
  • Milton GO Station — This redevelopment project will help enable more frequent rush hour service on the Milton GO corridor, and includes the construction of improved pedestrian connections, accessible connections to train and bus platforms, bicycle storage, a new station building, an upgraded parking lot, and a reconfigured bus loop and passenger pick-up/drop-off area.
  • New stations — Twelve new stations on the GO rail network (including six SmartTrack stations) have undergone preliminary design and are advancing to full business case analysis. Metrolinx is working with municipal partners and conducting environmental assessments and community engagement at all locations.

GO Rail Extensions and Expansion

Subject to negotiations with freight rail partners, Ontario is also advancing plans for additional GO rail service, including:

  • Kitchener Expansion — Ontario is committed to delivering two-way, all-day GO train service between Toronto and Waterloo Region. Planning and design work is underway on improvements to the Kitchener GO corridor to support more GO train service in the future and deliver GO RER along this line.
  • Niagara Extension — Ontario is planning to bring new weekday GO rail service between the future Confederation GO Station in Hamilton and the Niagara Region starting in 2021, with service to Niagara Falls by 2023. Three other stations are proposed along the corridor including a new station in Grimsby, as well as upgraded VIA rail stations in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls. This extension will support economic development and increase travel options for people in Niagara Region.
  • Bowmanville Extension — Ontario is extending GO Transit’s Lakeshore East rail corridor to offer new GO train service from Oshawa to Bowmanville. Extending the GO train network by nearly 20 kilometres and building four new stations — two in Oshawa, one in Courtice and one in Bowmanville — will give people in Durham Region more transit options and help drive economic growth and job creation.

Rapid Transit

Ontario is investing in major rapid projects across the GTHA to provide fast, efficient and reliable transit.

Table 2.4 Examples of Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) Rapid Transit Projects
Project Provincial Investment in Construction Costs Description
Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) $5.3 billion This LRT will include 25 stations and stops that will link to 54 bus routes, three subway stations, three GO Transit lines and the UP Express, speeding up commutes and helping people get where they need to go.
Finch West LRT Up to $1.2 billion This LRT will connect Humber College to the new Finch West TTC Subway Station on the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension and move more people faster through the busy Finch West corridor.
Hamilton LRT $1.0 billion This LRT will provide safe, rapid and reliable transit on tracks separated from traffic through downtown Hamilton.
Hurontario LRT $1.4 billion This LRT will connect the GO Transit network and the Mississauga and Brampton transit systems. It will have 22 stops on its own dedicated right-of-way, with service expected to begin in 2022.
Mississauga Transitway $113 million In December 2017, Renforth Station opened, marking the completion of this project that makes east-west travel through Mississauga faster and more convenient.

Municipal Transit

The Province is supporting key municipal transit projects to enhance and expand local transit systems, reduce congestion, and offer more travel options for commuters and families. Projects include:

  • London Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System — Ontario is investing $170 million in a major new transit project that will connect people in London with work, school, appointments and activities faster, while increasing transit ridership and helping manage congestion. The City of London’s Shift BRT system will comprise 23.7 kilometres of rapid transit along London’s busiest corridors, connecting neighbourhoods, businesses and postsecondary institutions in the city with a hub in the downtown core.
  • New station constructed as part of the subway extension.
    The Toronto-York Spadina Extension, the largest expansion of its subway system in nearly 40 years, will ease traffic congestion.
  • Line 1 Extension/Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension — The Province invested $870 million through the Move Ontario Trust to support the largest expansion of Toronto’s subway system in nearly 40 years. The line opened in December 2017, offering a fast and convenient new option for people to get to work or class — and home to their families sooner. The extension will add an estimated 36 million transit trips and eliminate 30 million car trips per year — helping ease traffic congestion, improve air quality and fight climate change.
  • Ottawa LRT — The Province committed up to $600 million for Stage 1 of this project — the Confederation Line — which is expected to enter service in 2018. Ontario is also investing more than $1 billion to support Stage 2 — the largest single investment ever made to the city’s public transit system by the Provincial government. Stage 2 of the project will build on the Trillium Line (O-Train) and the Confederation Line by adding about 40 kilometres of new rail and 23 new stations, extending the LRT network to the east, west and south.
  • Waterloo ION Rapid Transit — The Province is investing up to $325 million for Stage 1 of this project. Seventeen kilometres of adapted BRT from Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener to Cambridge’s Ainslie Street Terminal opened for service in September 2015. It will soon connect with 19 kilometres of LRT between Conestoga Mall in Waterloo and Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener, and is expected to open in 2018.

New Federal–Provincial Investments in Transit

On March 14, 2018, Canada and Ontario announced the signing of a bilateral agreement under the Investing in Canada plan that will provide $8.3 billion in federal funding over the next decade towards priority transit infrastructure projects across the province. Under this agreement, Ontario will also provide $7.3 billion in Provincial funding to cost-match the Government of Canada. This investment will help improve the capacity of public transit infrastructure, provide Ontarians with more travel choices, help manage congestion on roads and build sustainable communities.

As part of the agreement, funding will be allocated to municipalities based on transit ridership, with the Province providing 33 per cent of project costs.

The Province is also committed to providing funding, over and above the Investing in Canada plan agreement, where necessary, to support the construction of priority transit projects. The Province will work in partnership with municipalities to nominate potential priority transit projects such as the Toronto Relief Line Subway, the Yonge North Subway Extension, Toronto’s Waterfront Transit Network, Durham Bus Rapid Transit, and rapid transit in Mississauga along the Dundas Street corridor and in Brampton along the Queen Street corridor.

The government will also continue to work with the City of Toronto on the implementation of SmartTrack. The Province and the City of Toronto have agreed to an integrated GO RER/SmartTrack framework, which includes six new stations along the Kitchener and Stouffville/Lakeshore East GO rail corridors within the City of Toronto, and a western extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to Pearson International Airport.

Ontario is pleased to be partnering with the federal government on this important bilateral agreement to get this much-needed infrastructure built. Ontario encourages the federal government to continue to support critical transit infrastructure into the future, as part of, and beyond the Investing in Canada plan.

Reducing the Cost of Transit in the GTHA

Presto card.

There are 11 transit service providers in the GTHA, each with their own fare rules and prices. To help increase public access to a safe, reliable and seamless transit system, the government is implementing initiatives to support a transformational regional fare integration strategy for the GTHA.

As of January 2018, Ontario lowered the cost of commuting for people in the GTHA by introducing a fare discount for PRESTO card users who transfer between GO Transit or the UP Express and the TTC.

This Budget announces additional savings for transit riders, including:

  • Funded by carbon allowance proceeds, the Province will work with the TTC, York Region Transit, Mississauga’s MiWay, Brampton Transit and Durham Region Transit to introduce discounts to transit users who transfer between these municipal transit networks and the TTC. There are approximately 63,000 daily trips involving transfers between these municipal transit agencies and the TTC. This initiative could save cross-boundary transit commuters up to $1.50 per trip, saving regular commuters about $720 per year.
  • All GO Transit trips within Toronto will cost PRESTO card users just $3 per trip. In addition, PRESTO card users at stations such as Port Credit, Malton, Pickering, Ajax and Markham will also see fare reductions when taking GO Transit back and forth to Union Station.
  • All GO Transit trips under 10 kilometres will cost PRESTO card users just $3 per trip anywhere on the GO Network.

Improving Mobility and Connectivity across the Province

Over the next 10 years, the Province will invest about $25 billion in highways, bridges and roads to address emerging needs in the transportation system.

Table 2.5 Examples of Highway Projects Planned and Underway
Region Description
  • Highway 401 — Rehabilitating 7.6 kilometres westbound between Neilson Road and Warden Avenue and 9.1 kilometres eastbound between Neilson Road and Whites Road. These projects will keep the highway in good repair, and improve safety and operations.
  • Highway 401 — Expanding 18 kilometres from the Credit River Bridge in Mississauga westerly to Regional Road 25 in Milton to accommodate HOV lanes and ease traffic congestion.
  • Highway 427 Extension — Widening 9 kilometres between Highway 409 and Highway 7, and extending the highway from Highway 7 to Major Mackenzie Drive by 6.6 kilometres, including the construction of HOV lanes to improve mobility.
  • New Highway 7 — Phase 3 of the new Highway 7 project will include the construction of a 17.8-kilometre four-lane divided, controlled access highway linking Highway 85 in Kitchener to Highway 6 (Hanlon Expressway) in Guelph.
  • Highway 401 — Rehabilitating 24.6 kilometres in Chatham-Kent and installing approximately 50 kilometres of high-tension cable barrier in the grass median from Tilbury to Victoria Road. This project will maintain the highway in good repair and improve safety by significantly reducing the potential for median crossover collisions.
  • Highway 417 — Multiple projects along stretches of the 192-kilometre highway, an important link in the Trans-Canada Highway system across Eastern Ontario.
  • Highway 49 — Rehabilitating the Bay of Quinte Skyway, a key entry point to Prince Edward County.
  • Third Crossing — Investing in a new bridge over the Cataraqui River in Kingston to provide an alternative route for commuters, and future opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists with a multi-use trail.
  • Highway 11/17 — Continuing to widen the highway from two to four lanes between Thunder Bay and Nipigon. This increased capacity will improve the safety and reliability of the Trans-Canada Highway system and reduce traffic delays.
  • Highway 69 — Continuing to widen the highway from two to four lanes, including completion of the segment from 3 kilometres north of Highway 64 northerly for approximately 9 kilometres. This will improve traffic flow and safety.
  • Thunder Bay Expressway — Moving forward with initial design work for a four-lane divided highway with interchanges between Arthur Street and Balsam Street.

Connecting Links

The Connecting Links program helps municipalities repair roads and bridges connecting two ends of a provincial highway through a community or to a border crossing. In 2018–19, annual funding will increase by $5 million to $30 million, benefiting 22 municipalities, including:

  • $3.0 million to the City of Windsor for the reconstruction of Huron Church Road from Dorchester Road to Malden Road;
  • $0.7 million to the City of Pembroke for the resurfacing of Pembroke Street East and Mackay Street;
  • $2.0 million to the Town of Fort Frances for the rehabilitation of Mill Road Overpass;
  • $3.0 million to the Town of Blind River for the rehabilitation of Causley Street Bridge; and
  • $3.0 million to the City of Timmins for the reconstruction of Highway 101.

Green Transportation Infrastructure

Ontario is investing in infrastructure that will meet today’s transportation needs while protecting the environment for future generations. This includes supporting research in the use of hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative technology for electrifying GO rail service and the UP Express.


The government is helping municipalities across the province to improve existing, or build new, cycling infrastructure. Supporting this construction increases safety for cyclists, and makes cycling more convenient and appealing for daily commutes and other frequent trips.

The Province is investing more than $90 million in 2017–18 to support commuter cycling across the province as part of the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program.

Electric Ferries

Ontario is positioned to become a North American leader in the deployment of low-carbon and zero-emission marine transportation. The Province is moving forward with plans to procure two new electric ferries to connect the mainland with Amherst Island and Wolfe Island. These two ferries will be the first fully electric non-cable vessels in North America, equipped with electric propulsion systems instead of the conventional diesel-electric system. This initiative supports the commercialization of new low-carbon technology and strengthens the low-carbon cleantech sector. The Amherst Island vessel is scheduled to be delivered in December 2019 and the Wolfe Island vessel in December 2020.

Other Investments in Transportation Infrastructure

Investments in Northern Transportation

The Province is committed to ensuring that northern residents, communities and industries benefit from efficient and connected transportation systems. The government will invest $490 million in capital funding over the next 10 years for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission to repair and refurbish railway tracks, bridges and trains. In 2017–18, the Province provided $5.2 million towards new buses and technology enhancements to expand bus travel options in underserved areas across northern Ontario, which will help remove barriers and increase accessibility for residents.

Community Transportation Grant Program

Ontario has launched a new five-year $40 million Community Transportation Grant Program to help municipalities, Indigenous communities and other organizations throughout the province provide more travel options in areas that are not served, or are underserved by public transit and intercommunity bus routes. The program will make it more convenient for seniors, students, persons living with disabilities and others to access essential services within their communities, connect with other transportation services, and travel between cities and towns.

This program enables communities to find local solutions to their transportation challenges, and builds upon a three-year pilot program that has supported:

  • The Township of White River to partner with the Canadian Red Cross to provide transportation service to communities within a 100-kilometre radius to help get people to medical, dental and hearing services; and
  • The County of Northumberland to expand its transportation services to several townships, and extend its services to evenings and weekends, to allow families, youth, seniors and adults to get to work and school, go shopping, and attend social and recreational activities.

High-Speed Rail

Ontario is continuing to make progress on the first high-speed rail service in Canada, on the Toronto-Windsor corridor. This would connect the GTHA to southwestern Ontario — a region with leading research institutions, a technology cluster, numerous advanced manufacturing facilities and significant economic growth potential. This service will cut travel times while creating new opportunities for workers, businesses and families.

The Province continues to move forward with an Environmental Assessment process that will focus on options for implementing high-speed rail. The seven station stops are planned for Windsor, Chatham, London, Kitchener, Guelph and Toronto Union Station, with a connection to Pearson International Airport. From Toronto to Kitchener, the service will share the existing corridor with GO RER services, and from Kitchener to Windsor, the service will run on new dedicated tracks.

To deliver the program, the Province is proceeding with an initial investment of over $11 billion to support the construction. The high-speed rail program will begin with service from Toronto to London, then expand with service from London to Windsor in the second phase of construction. Ontario will continue to engage with the public, Indigenous communities and municipalities in order to advance the work.

Moving Forward on Transportation Plans

The Province continues to lead the development of transportation plans and strategies to identify how various components of the transportation system can work together to meet future mobility needs and increase choices for the movement of goods and people.

Planning is underway to support future growth in travel demand and economic activity, as Ontario’s population grows over the next 23 years to more than 18.2 million people by 2041. More residents will mean more trips to and from school, work and home, while an aging population will require different travel options and supports for complex care.

Planning for this future will ensure that congestion is addressed in urban areas, access is maintained in rural and remote areas, and residents and businesses have travel options. The rapid pace of technological and environmental change requires that the transportation infrastructure planned today is adaptable to new modes, supports a shift away from carbon-reliant travel and is resilient to climate change.

2051 Greater Golden Horseshoe Transportation Plan

The Province is developing a bold new transportation plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It will look out to 2051 and beyond, and ensure that the transportation system is responsive to current and future environmental, technological, economic and social needs. It will support broad provincial economic and trade corridors, as well as regional and local travel needs, and will identify how the transportation system will support other Provincial priorities, such as action on climate change, and support for continued prosperity and quality of life.

As the region grows to 13.5 million people over the next 23 years, this overarching transportation plan will provide the necessary actions to optimize the significant investments being made to address mobility and congestion; prepare for new technologies such as automated and connected vehicles, as well as new mobility service models; and guide and support Provincial investment policy and program decisions in a coordinated manner.

Northern Ontario Transportation Strategy and Action Plan

Ontario has completed extensive public consultations with Ontario residents, businesses, community groups and agencies on the proposed Northern Ontario Multimodal Transportation Strategy and Action Plan. The plan outlines the Province’s vision and goals for northern Ontario’s transportation system, a set of directions and initial actions to address the unique challenges faced by the region. It encompasses all modes of transportation — air, rail, road and marine — to help ensure this vast area is connected with a reliable and safe network that supports economic development, addresses climate change and meets social needs.

Supporting Community Benefits

The government wants to ensure that communities benefit from new infrastructure projects during development. In fact, Ontario is the first Canadian jurisdiction to pass legislation to enable consideration of community benefits in infrastructure planning and investment.

Community benefits are supplementary social and economic benefits arising from an infrastructure project, such as local job creation, training opportunities and improvement of public space. They can also help reduce poverty and develop the local economy with input from underrepresented groups. This is one of the ways Ontario is ensuring that economic growth is felt by all communities.

The government is committed to having major public infrastructure projects comply with a community benefits framework by 2020. To achieve this, the government is already working to launch five pilot projects. These pilot projects will explore a full range of project and benefit types in different regions across the province including both rural and urban communities.

Investing in Digital Infrastructure

Children working on labtops.
Ontario is ensuring people across the province have access to affordable, high-speed broadband networks.

The Province recognizes that broadband and mobile connectivity will continue to be essential to the economic well-being of Ontarians, enabling meaningful civic engagement, inclusive growth, economic development, and access to government and public services. That is why the government is committed to ensuring people have access to digital services, and is building a foundation of digital infrastructure — including accessible and affordable high-speed broadband networks across Ontario.

Since 2007, the government has committed close to $530 million in broadband infrastructure investments in communities across Ontario, including:

  • $90 million as part of the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project, which will expand access to broadband networks by delivering fibre optic coverage to 3.5 million people in over 300 communities — spanning counties and municipalities in southwestern Ontario, as well as Caledon and Niagara;
  • $67.5 million in a partnership with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), to support broadband coverage or service expansion projects in the north;
  • Up to $30 million to improve access to distance education, skills training and new business opportunities for five Matawa-member communities in remote northern Ontario; and
  • Investing $130 million over five years in two projects across Ontario that will advance the development and commercialization of 5G and next-generation technologies and networks across Ontario.

To ensure that people of Ontario can fully participate in the 21st century economy and access basic services, the government is investing an additional $500 million over three years to expand broadband connectivity in rural and northern communities. This will include an investment of up to $71 million towards improving cellular coverage in eastern Ontario, and up to $20 million to Telesat to support a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation project, which will help enable access to secure broadband services in rural and remote Ontario. These investments will also help to increase average speeds in underserved and unserved communities.

See the Enhancing Access and Engagement through Digital Learning section earlier in this chapter for more information on how broadband investments are helping students in schools across the province.

Investing in Cybersecurity

Ontario’s investments in infrastructure and digital government services must be protected from the growing threat of cyberattacks. Increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks on governments and businesses around the world underscore the necessity of proactively safeguarding the province’s mission-critical IT systems and protecting the personal information of Ontarians.

In the 2017 Budget, Ontario committed to enhancing the cybersecurity of the province’s private financial institutions to help ensure that consumer and business information remains safe and protected. Cyber criminals also frequently target governments, trusted custodians of vast amounts of valuable information.

Ontario is investing an additional $64 million over three years to enhance existing cyber practices and attract highly skilled and in-demand cybersecurity talent using new recruitment methods, including through innovative partnerships with postsecondary institutions.

Culture and Recreation Infrastructure

Ontario is continuing to invest in culture and recreation infrastructure to strengthen communities, promote cultural engagement and inclusion, and provide a variety of social and health benefits to Ontarians. The Province is supporting projects, including:

  • Variety Village — Upgrading the facility in Toronto so that children, youth and adults with disabilities can continue to participate in para sport, adaptive sport and other recreational activities.
  • Shaw Festival — Updating and modernizing four historic theatres in Niagara-on-the-Lake, making them accessible for patrons of all abilities.
  • Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre — Enabling the centre to move into an accessible new home, where it will be able to welcome even more members of the community.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) — Relocating MOCA to the historic Northern Aluminum Company Building in a vibrant, mixed-use neighbourhood in Toronto. The new MOCA will provide studio and exhibition space for artists.
  • Rendering of Ancaster Arts Centre.
    A rendering of Ancaster Arts Centre.
  • Ancaster Arts Centre — Constructing a new centre that will transform the surplus Ancaster Memorial School property into a sustainable community arts hub.
  • Elliot Lake Community Hub — Building a community hub for the North Shore that will include a pool, arena, small gym, walking track and wellness program area, which will help to engage seniors, veterans, youth, athletes and social club attendees.
  • Blackburn Arena Expansion — Renovating and expanding the existing facility in Ottawa to create a multi-purpose space for the community, as well as an accessible entrance and dressing room facilities, so that all local residents can better access and participate in the services offered.
  • Massey Hall — Nominating Phase Two of the Massey Hall Revitalization Project for federal funding under the Building Canada Fund. This project is comprised of a heritage restoration of the main hall and construction of a six-story integrated addition, as well as a music education and artist development hub.

Ontario Place

The Province is continuing to transform Ontario Place into a vibrant, year-round waterfront destination. This transformation will boost the economy while building upon Ontario Place’s legacy of innovation, fun and live music, and engaging residents and visitors of all ages.

  • Planning and design work is underway for Celebration Common, a proposed 20-acre green space approximately the size of 14 football fields, to accommodate open-air cultural activities, festivals, community events and recreation in Toronto.
  • The iconic Cinesphere, reopened in November 2017, giving visitors the opportunity to watch movies year-round.
  • Trillium Park opened in June 2017, featuring an open-air pavilion inspired by evergreen forests and Ontario Place’s unique design, as well as open spaces to host art fairs, film festivals, yoga classes, school groups and food vendors.
  • The William G. Davis Trail also opened in June 2017. The 1.3-kilometre trail connecting the new park to the Trans Canada Trail is welcoming people back to a spectacular piece of Toronto’s waterfront.

Investing in Ontario’s Communities

A Strong Franco-Ontarian Community Means a Strong Ontario

More than 600,000 francophones call Ontario their home. The francophone community of Ontario is the largest French-speaking community in Canada outside of Quebec and is integral to the cultural and economic development of the province.

Recognizing the Province’s commitment to the francophone people, culture and language in Ontario, in 2017, the government created a stand-alone ministry dedicated to francophone affairs.

The government continues to invest in the sustainability of francophone communities across the province. Ontario also continues to reinforce its commitment to the preservation and advancement of the francophone community through key initiatives such as the province’s observer membership in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Recent and ongoing initiatives supporting Ontario’s francophone community include:

  • Creating a new community hub for Coopérative multiservices francophone de l’Ouest d’Ottawa in partnership with Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario. This hub will increase access to French-language services in western Ottawa by providing French-speaking families with employment and training programs, social services, legal and immigration services, child care, health services and more — all under one roof.
  • Passing the City of Ottawa Amendment Act (Bill 140), which recognizes and aims to protect the City of Ottawa’s bilingual character.
  • Commissioning a monument, as the first structure of its kind to be dedicated to Franco-Ontarians at Queen’s Park, acknowledging the integral role of the francophone community in the province’s achievements and its future. The monumentwill be unveiled in 2018.
  • Building a new facility, Mouvement d’implication francophone d’Orléans (MIFO), to improve access to French-language services. The MIFO project will increase the number of recreational services that support and enrich francophone culture.

Doubling the Francophone Community Grant

In fall 2017, Ontario launched Programme Franco, an application-based grant program that aims to encourage greater social involvement, learning, innovation and engagement for francophones in Ontario, through cultural and community-based initiatives.

To date, a total of 57 organizations received funding. This year, the government will be extending and expanding Programme Franco to enhance its support of francophone communities across the province and help them:

  • Facilitate social integration, networking and volunteerism within francophone communities;
  • Reduce barriers and increase support for vulnerable groups within francophone communities;
  • Provide opportunities to celebrate and promote an understanding of Ontario's Francophonie;
  • Build the capacity of francophone organizations; and
  • Promote collaboration between service providers to better serve francophone communities.

“The Francophone Community Grant Program is a considerable boost that supports our community’s extraordinary work throughout the province. With this program, our Franco-Ontarian organizations are able to offer services to a greater number of Francophones and Francophiles.”

Carol Jolin,
President of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario

Investing in Francophone Education

Creating a New French-Language University

Currently, learners across Ontario can study in French from early years through postsecondary education; however, more postsecondary education options are needed. The government continues to implement its commitment to establish a French-language university in Ontario governed by and for francophones. On December 14, 2017, the Université de l’Ontario français Act, 2017, passed third reading and was granted Royal Assent.

The government has created a Technical Implementation Committee to oversee the early stages of the creation of the new French-language university. This spring, the government expects to proclaim the enabling legislation and regulations, and appoint the first Board of Governors of this new institution. This is the final step in creating the university as a legal entity. Following this, it can begin to develop its programs and welcome its first students.

Investing in Francophone Education in Schools

Since 2013, as part of its commitment to preserve French language and culture in Ontario, the Province has invested $510 million in construction, additions and retrofits at 62 French-language schools across Ontario. Currently, the Province is investing more than $80 million to support five new French-language schools, one acquisition, and the renovation or expansion of another three. These new projects will also include new francophone licensed child care spaces to support the growing needs of Ontario families.

Recent French-language capital investments include:

  • The addition of 178 student spaces at École secondaire catholique Père-René-de-Galinée in Cambridge;
  • A new Roman Catholic elementary school with 412 student spaces along with three child care rooms in Gloucester;
  • The addition of 92 student spaces at École élémentaire Nouvel Horizon, along with one child care room in Hawkesbury;
  • The addition of 180 student spaces at École secondaire catholique Sainte-Trinité in Oakville;
  • A joint 600-pupil secondary school, along with three child care rooms in Kingston;
  • A new secondary school to accommodate over 500 students in Toronto; and
  • A new secondary school to accommodate over 400 students in Vaughan.

Supporting Health Care for Francophones

The Province is improving access to quality French‐language health services. In order to meet the health needs of Franco-Ontarians, the government is strengthening the role of the six French Language Health Planning Entities that provide advice and recommendations to Local Health Integration Networks on regional health system planning for francophone communities, and investing in a number of targeted initiatives that are improving the planning and coordination of French-language health services, including:

  • Supporting the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario in implementing a new provincewide system to assess and report on French-language health services capacity; and
  • Capturing francophone linguistic identity in the system used to support Ontario’s health card, which will allow the government to better understand the health care needs and health outcomes of Franco-Ontarians.

Community Hubs

Communities across the province rely on public space to deliver important services to local residents. A community hub is a space where multiple services — such as health, social, cultural and recreational programs — are located together, creating a one-stop shop for people in the community to access the resources they need. Whether located in a high-density urban neighbourhood, a rural community or even online, each hub is as unique as the community it serves.

To assist those working to develop community hubs, the Province has launched, an online space where people interested in planning, building or operating a community hub can access resources and engage with others working on similar initiatives across Ontario. In addition, the government is moving forward with the Surplus Property Transition Initiative (SPTI), and is offering facilitation services needed to develop community hubs. The SPTI aims to support the transition of a number of publicly owned properties that are no longer in use to be redeveloped as community hubs.

Communities across Ontario are working hard to provide local leadership. For example:

  • Scarborough — Redefining the future of the Sir Robert L. Borden Business and Technical Institute site and its role in the community;
  • Ottawa — Finding innovative ways to support families at the site of the former Rideau High School, bringing together the Odawa Native Friendship Centre and the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre;
  • Owen Sound — Proposing a regional skills training community hub that would address barriers to rural employment and education through skilled trades and fine arts; and
  • Hamilton — Proposing revitalization of the former St. Helen’s Elementary School to develop Biindigen Community Hub.

The government is launching a new Social Purpose Real Estate (SPRE) strategy to embed community needs in government decision-making on the sale, purchase and use of publicly owned properties and infrastructure planning.

Supporting community hubs and maximizing the social benefits of surplus properties will help families access the services they need close to home. From children to seniors, Ontario’s new approach to property use will help put local community needs first.

A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s Commitment to Fight Systemic Racism

The government has a responsibility to eliminate systemic racism and advance racial equity, ensuring everyone has equal access to life opportunities. To combat systemic racism, the Province announced the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan in February 2017, a $47 million investment over four years that will support more than 10,000 Black children, youth and their families.

To date, progress has been made through the Together We Can youth mentorship program for Black children and youth, which will support up to 25 locally developed projects across the province.

These include:

  • The African-Canadian Coalition of Community Organizations; and
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel, in partnership with the Black Community Advisory Council.

Both programs connect Black youth in the community with mentors to help them build and develop skills in areas such as communication, conflict management and leadership training.

In addition to increasing services, the plan established the Violence Prevention Campaigns Initiative — public awareness campaigns to promote the strengths of Ontario’s Black children, youth and families and build community resiliency. The campaigns aimed to promote strong Black cultural identities through investing in community outreach and promoting anti-violence.

Supporting Ontario’s Public Libraries

In Ontario, digital resources are becoming increasingly crucial for educational purposes, to access public services, and for participation in the labour market. Public libraries play a central role in providing access to new technology and digital resources in communities.

Digital Public Library

To ensure that everyone can benefit from digital technologies in their lives, Ontario will invest $28 million over three years to create a provincial Digital Public Library that provides access to digital content such as e-books, music and audiobooks; research databases; special collections; and accessible and alternative format materials across a common web platform. For the first time, equitable digital library services will be available to all Ontarians regardless of where they live in the province — including rural, remote and Indigenous communities. This will support the province’s 300 public libraries, including 46 First Nation public libraries, which serve over 99 per cent of the population.

Building Up Public Libraries

Public libraries are increasingly embracing their role as community hubs, providing access to free information, programs and services across a range of areas such as newcomer settlement, early learning, housing, employment, small business support and public health. Libraries also offer important employment and career training programs to job seekers, helping connect them to the technology resources they need to find and compete for job opportunities. That is why Ontario is increasing the Public Library Operating Grant by $51 million over three years.

Social Impact Bond Pilot for At-Risk Individuals

The government works continuously with partners to develop and deliver services that achieve positive long-term social outcomes for the people of Ontario.

The government is exploring initiatives that support at-risk youth and individuals with mental illnesses by improving access to secure and stable housing. To achieve this goal, the government will launch two new pay-for-success Social Impact Bond (SIB) pilot projects in the area of homelessness which will assist over a thousand at-risk youth over an eight-year period. The SIB approach works with service delivery organizations that have the expertise, capacity and scale in providing the required social service interventions. Funds are provided from private-sector investors upfront who would receive outcome payments from the government if appropriate project outcomes are achieved. Project outcomes will be assessed through an independent evaluator. This arrangement will allow delivery organizations, with the government as a partner, to build evidence about effective practices in addressing homelessness, and provide additional services in the community.

Implementing the Fair Housing Plan

While rising housing prices and rents reflect the strength of the economy, they also create affordability challenges for individuals and families trying to buy a home or find rental accommodation.

As part of Ontario’s response to these challenges, the government announced its Fair Housing Plan on April 20, 2017. This plan includes a comprehensive package of measures to help more people find affordable homes, increase the supply of housing (including purpose-built rental housing), protect renters and real estate consumers, and bring stability to the real estate market.

The Fair Housing Plan has begun to have its intended effect. The latest data show that, after a period of elevated activity, the Ontario housing market began rebalancing in 2017. For more information, see Chapter III, Section B: Economic Outlook.

The measures announced as part of the Fair Housing Plan include:

  • Implementing the Non-Resident Speculation Tax to help make housing more affordable in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region;
  • Enhancing consumer protection by supporting stronger rules and professional standards for the real estate sector;
  • Updating the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017, to include a new requirement for municipalities to consider the use of available tools to require that multi-unit buildings incorporate a range of unit sizes to accommodate a diverse range of household sizes and incomes; and  
  • Working with municipalities and stakeholders to provide municipalities with additional tools to increase housing supply (including new rental developments), such as the flexibility to apply a vacancy tax to unoccupied residential units.

Measures in the Fair Housing Plan to Improve Fairness for Renters

The Fair Housing Plan also includes the following measures aimed at improving fairness for renters:

  • Improving housing affordability in the rental market by ensuring that property tax for new multi-residential apartment buildings is charged at a similar rate as other residential properties;
  • Unlocking surplus provincial land to create more than 2,000 new housing units with a mix of market-based and affordable units;
  • Expanding rent control to all private market rental units across the province to protect tenants from unfair rent increases; and
  • Ensuring that, starting April 30, 2018, landlords of most private residential units will use a standard lease document that is written in easy to understand language and explains what can and cannot be included in a lease. This document will also be made available in dozens of languages to help landlords and tenants better understand their rights and responsibilities.

Protecting Consumers and Investors

The government has a strong record of consumer and investor protection and continues to introduce a number of important measures to increase protection in a variety of ways. This includes reducing outages and improving access to elevators, while maintaining the province’s strong safety record through the action plan on elevator availability. This would make Ontario the first jurisdiction in the world to establish standards for elevator repair times.

The Province has also taken important action to better protect vulnerable consumers by reducing the cost of borrowing and other fees for alternative financial services such as payday loans, as well as allowing Ontario municipalities to restrict the areas in which payday loan shops open and the number that can operate in a given area. The government continues to introduce important measures to enhance consumer and investor protection.

Increasing Rights and Protections when Accessing Credit Reports

The Province is advancing the rights and protections of consumers when accessing credit reports, so they have more access and control over their own information and may help reduce the harm of identity theft.

Proposed changes under the Access to Consumer Credit Reports and Elevator Availability Act, 2018, would require certain credit reporting agencies to:

  • Give consumers online access to their current consumer score at least two times per year, free of charge;
  • Include in a consumer report information about any consumer scores given to third parties in the past 12 months; and
  • Implement a credit freeze, at the request of a consumer, to help reduce identity theft.

If passed, this legislation would give Ontario consumers the strongest rights in Canada over information held by consumer reporting agencies.

Championing Financial Empowerment

A better understanding of financial basics is good for economic growth and it benefits all Ontarians. When financial literacy is adopted, people are empowered to make better decisions and avoid exploitation. That is why, since 2014, the government has continually made investments that support the financial empowerment of low-income and at-risk groups, including seniors, newcomers and young people.

To help reach tens of thousands of more low-income Ontarians, the government is making a new investment in important financial literacy services and education though Prosper Canada. As a result of this investment, more cities will have financial empowerment supports embedded in services such as shelters and employment centres. This means more people will have access to one or more of the following:

  • One-on-one financial coaching;
  • Financial education;
  • Online financial information tools;
  • Help with basic banking;
  • Help with Registered Education Savings Plans, Registered Disability Savings Plans and Tax-Free Savings Accounts; and
  • Help with filing taxes and accessing benefits.

Through continued investments and emphasis on education, the government continues to work to increase the financial security and literacy for the betterment of people throughout Ontario.

Modernizing the Regulation of Insurance

The government is committed to a modern approach to insurance regulation that protects the public while promoting an innovative, competitive financial services industry.

The government is introducing amendments to the Insurance Act and the Corporations Act which, if passed, would give the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) prudential oversight of certain insurance companies incorporated in Ontario, including farm mutuals, reciprocals, publicly owned insurers and insurers created by legislation. In addition, all insurers licensed in Ontario would be required to be incorporated in a jurisdiction that meets international solvency standards.

To further enhance consumer protection, the government is introducing amendments to the Insurance Act which if passed, would provide FSRA with the authority to make rules requiring insurers to provide claims and repair‑history information to motor vehicle dealers for disclosure to prospective used-vehicle purchasers.

In addition, to reduce regulatory burden and enhance consumer convenience, amendments to the Insurance Act are being proposed which, if passed, would clarify the use of electronic communication by insurers and consumers, including certain insurance applications, policies and forms.

Creating the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario

The government is moving forward with the creation and implementation of FSRA, a new modern and adaptive financial services and pension regulator that will strengthen consumer, investor and pension plan beneficiary protection. The government is continuing to work with FSRA on a plan for the transition from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) to FSRA, and is also now proposing amendments to the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario Act, 2016, and other related statutes that would enhance the existing legislative framework and provide mechanisms for that transition. Consequential amendments to other acts would also be made.

The new FSRA organization is being built based on the vision of the mandate review panel. FSRA is currently moving to establish key pieces of its new organizational structure including upgrading key information systems. FSRA is working towards becoming fully operational by April 2019.

Establishing the Cooperative Capital Markets Regulatory System

Canada remains the only country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G7 without a national securities regulator. A strong cooperative securities regulatory framework is an important part of boosting Canada’s competitiveness in global capital markets, enhancing and harmonizing investor protection, and strengthening capital markets enforcement.

The Cooperative Capital Markets Regulatory System (CCMR or Cooperative System), once implemented, would promote economic activity by:

  • Fostering more efficient, globally competitive capital markets;
  • Providing investors increased protection through more integrated and coordinated compliance and enforcement activities;
  • Strengthening Canada’s capacity to identify and manage capital markets-related systemic risks on a national basis; and
  • Enabling participating jurisdictions, through the single voice of the new regulator, to play a more empowered and influential role in international regulatory initiatives.

Ontario continues to play a leadership role in the establishment of the CCMR and is working with the other participating jurisdictions to implement this initiative. Furthermore, Ontario, along with all other participating jurisdictions, continues to extend an invitation to any interested non-participating province or territory to join the Cooperative System.

The government is committed to ensuring a successful launch of the CCMR, and a key aspect will be transitioning Ontario Securities Commission staff to the new proposed Capital Markets Regulatory Authority (CMRA) once it is established. To assist with employee retention and planning, the government will propose legislation to include CMRA employees in Ontario as members of Ontario’s Public Service Pension Plan.

Making Auto Insurance More Affordable

The government continues to make auto insurance more affordable for the province’s nearly 10 million drivers. Since 2013, Ontario has implemented a series of reforms aimed at reducing rates and better protecting consumers. Recent reforms have included:

  • Requiring insurers to offer a discount for the use of winter tires;
  • Creating a new dispute resolution system to help Ontario claimants get faster access to the benefits they need;
  • Strengthening consumer protection by requiring towing and storage costs after an accident to be more transparent;
  • Prohibiting premium increases for minor at-fault accidents; and
  • Lowering the maximum interest rate charged on monthly premium payments.

While these reforms have reduced rates, the Province recognized more needed to be done. In his April 2017 report, David Marshall, Ontario’s advisor on auto insurance, identified that structural reforms to the system are the only way to reduce rates in the long term and improve care for those injured in auto collisions. That is why on December 5, 2017, the government announced the Fair Auto Insurance Plan, which includes a series of transformative changes that will reduce auto insurance rates and help those who are hurt in auto collisions get the care they need. The plan includes:

  • Cracking down on fraud by launching the province’s first Serious Fraud Office, with an initial focus on auto insurance fraud;
  • Implementing standard treatment plans for common injuries such as sprains, strains and whiplash;
  • Ensuring that lawyers’ contingency fees are fair, reasonable and more transparent;
  • Directing FSCO to review risk factors used by insurers, including where a person lives, to ensure that drivers in certain parts of the province are not subject to unfair high rates;
  • Reducing disputes by establishing independent examination centres; and
  • Establishing an advisory panel to guide the enactment of reforms contained in the Fair Auto Insurance Plan.

The government remains committed to transforming the auto insurance system to prioritize care for accident victims. Initial steps taken by the government include implementing standard treatment plans for the most common auto collision injuries and reducing disputes that can ultimately hurt victims instead of helping them. As a next step, the government will be investing in the development of Pathways of Care that will support catastrophically injured persons through the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF). The ONF, in partnership with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, will work with insurers, legal professionals and people with lived experience to develop standards of care that reflect scientific evidence, existing research and best practices, to support the government’s goal of an overarching system of care that supports all people injured in auto collisions.

These measures are part of the government’s transformation of the auto insurance system over time, aimed at bringing rates down and keeping them down in a sustained way, and ensuring that people who are hurt in auto collisions are able to receive the care they need, when they need it. The Province will continue to develop and implement measures to ensure the structural transformation of the auto insurance system that will result in less fraud, reduced rates, fewer disputes, and more timely and appropriate care for victims.

Regulating Financial Planners

The government is developing a framework to regulate financial planners in Ontario to help ensure that Ontarians have access to services that will assist them in reaching their financial goals. This regulatory framework would close the gap that currently allows financial planners to perform their work without regulatory oversight or specified proficiency requirements. It would also establish restrictions on the use of titles related to financial planning. The government has begun consulting with stakeholders in shaping the proposed framework, beginning with the release of a consultation paper in March 2018.

Strengthening Protection for Investors in Syndicated Mortgages

In the 2017 Budget, the government announced that it intended to transfer the regulatory oversight of syndicated mortgage investments (SMIs) from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) to the securities regulator, as well as implement interim measures to improve investor protection under the existing framework.

The government recently strengthened investor protections by amending regulations under the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, 2006, to ensure that potential investors are aware of the risks regarding SMIs. These amendments also established a $60,000 investment limit on individual investors in SMIs in order to prevent investors from becoming overly concentrated in these investments. These regulatory amendments will come into force on July 1, 2018.

In fall 2017, the government passed amendments to the Securities Act to facilitate the eventual transfer of the oversight responsibility for SMIs. The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) is working with FSCO to prepare for an orderly transfer, and is working with other securities regulators across Canada to develop proposed rules for syndicated mortgage offerings. As part of this process, the OSC recently commenced public consultations on proposed amendments to the securities rules related to the distribution of syndicated mortgages.

Modernizing the Legislative Framework for Co-Operative Corporations

Co-operative corporations are an important part of Ontario’s economy and serve the needs of their members in communities across the province. The Co-operative Corporations Act (CCA), which came into force in 1974, has never been subject to a full legislative review. As a result, the legislation has not kept pace with other business statutes in Ontario.

This year, the government will conduct a review of the CCA to modernize it and streamline it with other Ontario business statutes, while ensuring that it continues to reflect co-operative principles. As part of the review, the government will consider key policy issues, including restrictions on non-member business, exemptions from audit requirements, the process for offering statements, and the government body that would be most suitable to administer the legislation. A more modern legislative framework for co-operative corporations will help ensure they are able to grow, meet the needs of their members and compete effectively with other businesses in Ontario.

Updating Capital Markets Law

Fair, vigorous and timely enforcement of Ontario’s securities laws is essential to protecting investors and fostering confidence in the capital markets. The government plans to propose new tools for the OSC to enhance and expand its existing enforcement activities, including:

  • New offences for breach of an undertaking and for obstruction of an investigation in both the Securities Act and the Commodity Futures Act;
  • Giving the OSC authority to make automatic and non-automatic reciprocal orders on key orders issued for certain court convictions or by another Canadian securities regulator, for example, for specific sanctions;
  • Streamlining the administrative penalty process for first-time violations of certain registration and prospectus requirements in the Securities Act; and
  • Streamlining information-sharing processes in enforcement proceedings.

The government supports cooperation between OSC enforcement activities and the investigation and prosecution of criminal fraud. The OSC and the Ministry of the Attorney General will explore new opportunities to support and coordinate activities, including through the newly created Serious Fraud Office.

The government also supports a fair and efficient complaint resolution system for investors. The government will work with the OSC to strengthen the framework for securing compensation for investors who suffer financial losses due to the acts or omissions of registered firms.

In addition, the government proposes to establish a regulatory regime for financial benchmark administrators, contributors and users to reduce the risk of manipulation of those benchmarks and to align with international requirements. New rules for benchmarks would improve protection for investors and capital markets against misconduct.

Investments in Innovation and Transformative Technologies

Ontario is a national leader in innovation. Between 2014–15 and 2016–17, the government invested close to $1.7 billion to further develop the innovation ecosystem in Ontario. This includes investments in research institutes, regional innovation centres, and supports for Ontario-based entrepreneurs, as well as various other supports for Ontario’s innovators.

As announced in the 2017 Budget, the Province is investing over $350 million in a number of key transformative technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), 5G wireless communications, autonomous vehicles, advanced computing and quantum technologies. These technologies will equip Ontario with the tools needed to compete globally, create the jobs of the future and find solutions to some of the biggest problems facing the province including climate change. These investments are bringing together Ontario’s highly skilled workforce, innovative businesses, research institutions, and different partners — including municipalities and communities — to create the economy of the future.

Bolstering Artificial Intelligence

Ontario is acknowledged as a world leader in AI, anchored by advanced competencies and world-renowned talent. Nearly 200 AI-enabled firms and institutions in the province are creating opportunities to improve lives through the delivery of AI-enabled advances in health care, education and transportation.

The Province capitalized on its leading position in the AI sector by investing $50 million to help establish the Vector Institute, designed to support AI technology startups and generate investment from companies looking to hire experts and expand their AI footprint. A number of the Vector Institute’s key partners have also announced plans to expand their presence in Toronto, including Google Brain, Uber Advanced Technology Group (ATG) and Accenture (Liquid Studio).

The Province is investing an additional $30 million to support the Vector Institute’s work with postsecondary institutions. This will allow the Vector Institute to collaborate with academic institutions and existing Ontario employers, including scale-ups, to increase the number of Master’s degree graduates in AI-related fields to 1,000 annually within five years. This increase will help the Province respond to the need for AI-trained specialists to help evolve and grow Ontario companies to compete in the new knowledge economy.

Encouraging Artificial Intelligence Entrepreneurs

NextAI is a Toronto-based accelerator for early-stage startups that leverage AI technologies. This organization focuses on founder development and creating new AI ventures, occupying a critical niche between advanced applied research occurring within the Vector Institute and venture acceleration. It provides seed funding for businesses, creates mentorship opportunities with corporate partners, and provides access to corporate advisors and leading researchers. The Province is continuing to support the AI ecosystem through NextAI by providing an additional $15 million in funding over the next three years. This funding will make Ontario’s economy more innovative and productive through ongoing support of exceptional entrepreneurs.

A Made-in-Ontario Data Strategy

The vast streams of data generated by social media and business information platforms, smartphones, the Internet of Things and sensors are the fuel that powers the emerging data-driven global economy around the world. Organizations that are able to capture, use and reuse these streams of data are developing valuable new products, solutions and services, including public services that benefit consumers and businesses, grow the economy and support social well-being. Recognizing the explosive growth of the data-driven economy, the government is exploring a Data Strategy for the province that will help ensure that the people of Ontario are able to reap the significant benefits from responsibly using publicly funded data generated here, while protecting the public interest. The government will consult with key stakeholders to inform a Data Strategy so that Ontarians benefit from data generated in Ontario while leveraging the potential that data holds to enhance economic activity and grow Ontario businesses.

Competitiveness in FinTech

Ontario is committed to becoming a global leader in FinTech. Toronto is North America’s second largest financial services hub, after New York City, in terms of industry employment. The Toronto-Waterloo Corridor boasts the second highest density of startups in the world. With over 140 FinTech startups in the Toronto Region and over 700,000 people employed in ICT and financial services across the province, this growing sector continues to be an important contributor to the province’s economy, increased job growth and competitiveness. The Province’s approach to this unique part of the financial services sector is innovative, while ensuring a high degree of consumer protection. By fostering a dynamic FinTech landscape, the province will continue to attract and retain talent and create stable growth for jobs in this robust sector.

Chart 2.11: Ontario’s FinTech Competitiveness
Accessible description of Chart 2.11

As announced in the 2017 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, the government continues to advance the provincial FinTech strategy by moving forward with establishing the Ontario FinTech Accelerator Office, which will help FinTech businesses:

  • Navigate regulatory requirements, as many FinTech business models span multiple regulators in ways that differ from traditional business models;
  • Access business support programs and other resources; and
  • Connect and form partnerships with established financial institutions and emerging businesses, both domestically and globally.

The FinTech Accelerator Office will serve a dual purpose, in assisting businesses as they navigate regulatory requirements and helping inform government policies aimed at facilitating growth in the province’s FinTech sector. The government has been working with the sector to ensure that the Accelerator Office will meet the evolving needs of innovative businesses. Further details on the FinTech Accelerator Office will be announced in the near term.

The government is also continuing to work on the Regulatory Super Sandbox, as announced in the 2017 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review. Both the OSC and FSRA are working with the government to ensure that the Regulatory Super Sandbox would be operational at the same time as FSRA.

Access to Capital

Innovative early-stage companies have high-growth potential, but they often find it difficult to secure the capital they need to continue their development. Traditional sources of financing may be difficult to access, especially since many of these companies have limited profits and few tangible assets. That is where venture capital and other forms of risk capital can play a role, providing much-needed financing while also providing the company with guidance and time to become profitable.

Provincial investments such as those in the Ontario Venture Capital Fund, the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund and the ScaleUP Ventures Fund have helped improve Ontario’s venture capital market. From 2015 to 2017, Ontario had its best three years of venture capital investment since the dot-com era of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The Ontario Capital Growth Corporation (OCGC) manages Ontario’s interests in venture capital funds to ensure that more high-potential technology companies have access to the capital required to grow and prosper.

Ontario’s Life Sciences Venture Capital Fund

Ontario has a strong research and commercialization ecosystem in the life sciences sector. Ontario’s more than 20 academic research hospitals invest about $1.5 billion annually in health research and employ more than 18,000 researchers and research staff across the province. These strengths have led to the creation of many innovative startups.

Recognizing the strength of the life sciences sector in Ontario and Quebec, the Province has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work with Quebec on the development of a joint Life Sciences Venture Capital Fund. The Province recently announced its intention to invest up to $50 million in venture capital funds focused on life sciences. This will ensure that companies in subsectors such as regenerative medicine, oncology and digital health will have access to capital they need to grow. This investment commitment will leverage additional capital from private-sector partners such as corporations, pension funds and banks, and will assist innovative high-potential life sciences companies at all stages of their growth and development.

Supporting Regenerative Medicine

Since the discovery of stem cells by Dr. James Till and Dr. Ernest McCulloch in the 1960s at the Princess Margaret Hospital, Ontario has been acknowledged as a leader in stem cell research and molecular biology and tissue engineering research. Regenerative medicine is a driver of the progress and growth in Ontario’s innovative life sciences sector and an area where Ontario is a meaningful global leader.

In 2015, the government made a $25 million commitment over five years for the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Supporting Ontario Research

Basic research is the foundation from which most technologies and innovations are created, helping to drive long-term economic growth, create jobs and improve living standards for the people of Ontario. Dr. Molly Shoichet, an internationally respected and award-winning researcher, was recently appointed as Ontario’s first Chief Scientist. This appointment demonstrates Ontario’s commitment to research and evidence that supports policy development and decision-making.

Supporting Agri-Food Research and Innovation

Ontario’s agri-food sector plays an important role in the provincial economy, employing more than 800,000 workers. Investments in agri-food research result in new products and services for the global marketplace, helping to ensure that the industry remains competitive and creates jobs for the people of Ontario.

For this reason, the Province has renewed a 10-year agreement with the University of Guelph, investing more than $700 million to ensure Ontario’s position as a global leader in agri-food education, research and innovation.

As a result of this investment, Ontario will continue to make advances in food safety and the protection of plant, animal and human health. The next generation of researchers, and Ontario’s agri-food research capacity, will continue to be strengthened at the University of Guelph, which is recognized as one of Canada’s top research universities.18

This new investment will build off of past research successes at the university supported by the Province that have resulted in improving the nutrition of seniors in long-term care, new plant-based ways to produce pharmaceuticals, and improving animal immune systems.

Strengthening Intellectual Property in Ontario

Intellectual property (IP) is a form of intangible asset that includes patents, trademarks, copyrights and industrial designs. IP is an increasingly important driver of economic activity, and a competitive advantage for businesses. Ontario already has a strong foundation in research, innovation and entrepreneurship, but many Ontario innovators lack critical IP knowledge to commercialize their ideas and fully protect and strategically manage their IP for growth. As a result, some businesses and innovators in the province are missing out on significant potential returns from made-in-Ontario inventions.

To address this challenge, the Province is exploring an Intellectual Property Strategy focused on three themes:

  • Supporting the generation and ownership of higher quality patents by Ontario innovators;
  • Educating Ontario firms to become savvy users and producers of intellectual property assets; and
  • Defending and expanding the freedom to operate for Ontario entrepreneurs.

This strategy will ensure that firms leverage their IP to commercialize and grow their businesses here in Ontario and globally while remaining competitive.

Chart Descriptions

Chart 2.1: The Good Jobs and Growth Plan

The chart outlines the four components of the Good Jobs and Growth Plan and includes a brief description of what each component will do.

The first will build Ontario’s talent advantage by:

  • Investing in postsecondary institutions to develop students’ skills and talent;
  • Modernizing Ontario’s apprenticeship system;
  • Improving the employment and training system; and
  • Investing in bridge training programs to help newcomers settle and succeed.

The second component is aimed at making businesses more competitive by:

  • Helping businesses compete globally and fostering the move to the new economy;
  • Supporting new investments, building up communities, growing Ontario businesses and creating good jobs; and
  • Enhancing tax support for research and development.

The third will help accelerate and diversify trade by:

  • Expanding trade opportunities for Ontario businesses;
  • Advancing Ontario’s trade interests; and
  • Leading international trade missions to help businesses reach new markets.

The fourth and last component will invest in infrastructure by:

  • Investing in new and upgraded transit, hospitals, schools and broadband infrastructure;
  • Connecting people and businesses in northern, rural and urban communities;
  • Attracting new jobs and improving quality of life; and
  • Helping communities and businesses fully participate in the digital economy.

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Chart 2.2: Impact of OSAP Transformation on Access for Underrepresented Groups, 2016–17 to 2017–18

This chart provides a visualization of the impact that OSAP’s transformation has had on improving access to postsecondary education for underrepresented groups. It notes that from 2016–17 to 2017–18 there has been a 19 per cent increase in OSAP awards for a total of 252,000 students from low-income families, a 34 per cent increase in OSAP awards for a total of 7,800 students who self-identify as Indigenous, a 31 per cent increase in OSAP awards for a total of 188,000 mature students, and a 17 per cent increase in OSAP awards for a total a of 14,000 sole support parents, of which 95 per cent are single mothers.

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Chart 2.3: Examples of School Projects Recently Approved

This map shows examples of schools that are to be newly constructed or renovated across Ontario.

  • North: The Blind River Elementary and Secondary School will serve 329 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12 and will include a child care and an EarlyON child and family centre. 
  • Eastern: The Stittsville Secondary School will serve 1,353 students from Grades 7 to 12 to address growing enrolment in the area. Holy Name of Mary Catholic Elementary School in Cornwall will receive an additional 144 pupil places to address growing enrolment in the area. The project includes the addition of a child care centre.
  • Central: The école secondaire catholique Vaughan will serve 407 students from Grades 7 to 12 to address growing enrolment in the area. The replacement Elementary School in Beaverton will serve 326 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 8 and will include a child care and an EarlyON child and family centre. Bishop P.F. Reding Catholic Secondary School in Milton will receive an additional 609 pupil places to address growing enrolment in the area. The project includes the addition of a child care centre.
  • Southwest: The elementary and secondary school in Forest will serve 1,024 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12 and will include a child care and an EarlyON child and family centre. St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School in Listowel will receive an additional 49 pupil places to address growing enrolment in the area. The project includes the addition of a child care and an EarlyON child and family centre.

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Chart 2.4: Bridge Training Projects: Changing the System

This chart provides a visualization of the Changing the System bridge training projects. Within this category, it visualizes the relationship among skilled newcomers, the facilitation of connecting with employers, and tools for integration.

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Chart 2.5: A Renewed Jobs and Prosperity Fund

The chart outlines the major funds that make up the renewed Jobs and Prosperity Fund. The funds include the New Economy Fund, the Venture Technologies Fund, the Transformative Technology Partnerships Fund, the Forestry Growth Fund, the Food and Beverage Growth Fund, the Eastern Ontario Development Fund, the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Fund, and the Communities in Transition Fund.

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Chart 2.6: Reducing Electricity Costs for Businesses

  • Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan is reducing electricity bills for up to 500,000 small businesses and farms.
  • The Industrial Conservation Initiative expanded eligibility effective July 1, 2017, lowering bills by reducing consumption during peak periods and providing electricity system benefits.
  • The ongoing Northern Industrial Electricity Rate (NIER) program provides savings of $20 per megawatt-hour on eligible consumption for participating large northern industrials. The program is providing up to $120 million annually.
  • Ending the Debt Retirement Charge reduces electricity cost pressures by $7 per megawatt-hour effective April 1, 2018. A business using 3,000 megawatt-hours per month would save $21,000 per month.

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Chart 2.7: Select Recent Premier International Trade Missions

India (January 2016)

  • Focused on sustainable development and urban infrastructure.
  • Signed 65 new agreements valued at over $240 million and expected to create 150 high-value jobs in Ontario.

Japan (November 2016)

  • Focused on automotive, manufacturing, ICT and life sciences.
  • Signed 15 agreements and investment announcements, valued at $120 million and expected to create 170 jobs.

China (November 2017)

  • Focused on agriculture and food, medical technology, and science and technology sectors.
  • Signed 82 agreements and investment announcements, valued at $2.3 billion and expected to create over 2,300 jobs in Ontario.

Vietnam (December 2017)

  • Focused on agriculture and food, medical technology, and science and technology sectors.
  • Signed 20 agreements valued at $30 million which will create 56 jobs in Ontario.

South Korea (December 2016)

  • Focused on innovation, automotive, manufacturing, ICT and life sciences.
  • Signed 13 agreements valued at $120 million and expected to create 256 jobs.

Israel and the West Bank (May 2016)

  • Focused on life sciences, higher education and innovation.
  • Signed 44 agreements valued at more than $180 million and expected to create over 200 jobs.

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Chart 2.8: Residential Electricity Bills — Selected Jurisdictions in Canada and the United States

This chart represents the total monthly electricity bill for a typical residential consumer in various jurisdictions in Canada and the United States. The chart categorizes jurisdictions as in Ontario, in Canada excluding Ontario, and in the United States. The lowest bill is in Montreal at $56 and the highest is San Francisco at $230. The jurisdictions in Ontario range from $90 for Thunder Bay Hydro to $109 for Hydro One – Low Density (R2).

Full details are provided in the chart below, along with accompanying notes.

Jurisdiction Total Monthly Bill, C$, before tax Jurisdictional Category
San Francisco 230 United States
New York 228 United States
Boston 216 United States
Detroit 159 United States
Charlottetown 129 Canada, excluding Ontario
Regina 125 Canada, excluding Ontario
Halifax 124 Canada, excluding Ontario
Chicago 119 United States
Nashville 118 United States
Portland, Oregon 113 United States
Hydro One - Low Density (R2) 109 Ontario
Houston 108 United States
Seattle 107 United States
Toronto Hydro 106 Ontario
Miami 103 United States
Moncton 103 Canada, excluding Ontario
Hydro One - Urban (UR) 102 Ontario
Median Ontario Utility (OEB Regulated) 97 Ontario
Hydro Ottawa 95 Ontario
Greater Sudbury Hydro 94 Ontario
London Hydro 94 Ontario
Thunder Bay Hydro 90 Ontario
St. John’s 88 Canada, excluding Ontario
Calgary 83 Canada, excluding Ontario
Edmonton 83 Canada, excluding Ontario
Vancouver 77 Canada, excluding Ontario
Winnipeg 67 Canada, excluding Ontario
Montreal 56 Canada, excluding Ontario


  1. The Ontario figures are based on current electricity commodity prices (November 1, 2017) for the Regulated Price Plan, time-of-use (TOU), as well as the OEB rate database, while data for jurisdictions outside of Ontario are based on the Hydro-Quebec Report, Comparison of Electricity Prices in Major North American Cities. Rates in effect April 1, 2017.
  2. The data are rounded to the nearest Canadian dollar. The exchange rate used by Hydro-Quebec to convert data in U.S. dollars into Canadian dollars is 0.7468 (C$1 = US$0.7468), the rate in effect at noon on April 3, 2017.
  3. The Ontario figures in this chart assume a typical consumption pattern of 65 per cent Off-Peak, 17 per cent Mid-Peak and 18 per cent On-Peak for each TOU period, which represents the average across all consumers on TOU pricing in Ontario.
  4. The data in this chart are based on 750 kilowatt-hours (kWh) as the average monthly consumption of electricity in all selected jurisdictions.
  5. The Ontario figures include the Ontario Fair Hydro Plan Act, 2017, adjustments.
  6. The Ontario figures do not include any potential Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) credits.
  7. Any applicable taxes (e.g., value-added or sales taxes, etc.) have been excluded in this chart.
  8. These numbers are an estimate for informational purposes only.

Source: Ontario Energy Board, Electricity Rate Comparison

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Chart 2.9: Planned Use of Carbon Allowance Proceeds

This graphic illustrates how carbon allowance proceeds from Ontario cap-and-trade auctions of emissions will be invested. In 2018–19, Ontario is expected to generate $2 billion in proceeds. Consistent with legislation, all proceeds from the quarterly auctions of emissions allowances will be allocated to initiatives that are reasonably likely to reduce or support the reduction of GHG emissions.

The priority investment areas that will support the reduction of GHG emissions include:

  • Improving Energy Efficiency in Homes, Buildings and Industry (approximately $960 million)
  • Helping homes and companies adopt low-carbon technologies. Examples include:
    • Enhancing existing home energy audit and retrofit programs; and
    • Improving social housing retrofits.
  • Promoting Electric Vehicles (EVs) (approximately $160 million)
  • Addressing barriers to improve uptake of electric vehicles. Examples include:
    • Providing incentives for purchase or lease of EVs; and
    • Increasing electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Engaging Governments and Strengthening Partnerships (approximately $200 million)
  • Collaborating with partners to achieve emission reduction targets. Examples include:
    • Supporting municipalities with low-carbon projects; and
    • Supporting First Nation communities.
  • Modernizing Transit, Freight and Active Transportation (approximately $600 million)
  • Linking different modes of low-carbon transportation. Examples include:
    • GO Regional Express Rail; and
    • Building cycling lanes and infrastructure.
  • Enhancing Research and Development (approximately $45 million)
  • Supporting innovation in low-carbon clean technology. Examples include:
    • Cleantech development and deployment; and
    • Climate change science and research.
  • Preserving Agriculture Lands and Forests (approximately $25 million)
  • Ensuring the natural environment is used in an efficient and sustainable way. Examples include:
    • Planting 50 million trees to restore forests; and
    • Improving agricultural soil health.

Note that planned investments are subject to the availability of carbon allowance proceeds.

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Chart 2.10: Significant Infrastructure Investments

This chart illustrates recent and planned infrastructure investments of about $230 billion over 14 years, starting in 2014–15, by the Province.

The Province’s updated commitment to make significant infrastructure investments of about $182 billion over the next 10 years includes:

  • $79 billion in public transit;
  • $25 billion in highways;
  • $19 billion in capital grants to hospitals; and
  • $16 billion in capital grants to build new schools and improve the condition of existing ones.

Figures exclude third-party investments in hospitals, colleges and schools.

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Chart 2.11: Ontario’s FinTech Competitiveness

The chart highlights how Ontario’s Toronto Region ranks among a number of key financial sector indicators.

For example:

  • There are over 140 FinTech startups located in the Toronto Region. Source: Toronto Financial Services Alliance, “Seizing the Opportunity: Building the Toronto Region into a Global Fintech Leader,” (2017).
  • In 2017, Toronto ranked fourth (after Singapore, Zurich and Geneva) among the most attractive centres for FinTech. Source: Thomson Reuters, “Where are the best Fintech centers?” (2017),
  • The Toronto region is one of the fastest growing FinTech hubs in the world in terms of pre-IPO equity financing in FinTechs. Source: Toronto Financial Services Alliance, “Seizing the Opportunity: Building the Toronto Region into a Global Fintech Leader,” (2017).
  • Toronto ranked seventh in the world and second to only New York City in North America, in financial centre competitiveness. Source: China Development Institute, Z/Yen Partners, “Global Financial Centres Index 22,September (2017).
  • Six of the top 100 most innovative FinTech companies in the world are from Toronto. Source: KPMG, H2 Ventures, “2017 FINTECH 100 Leading Global Fintech Innovators,” (2017).

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  • [1] RBC, “Addressing the Catch 22: RBC Career Launch Applicant’s Recommendations for Improving School-to-Work Transitions,” (2016).
  • [2] OECD, Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators, (OECD Publishing, 2017),
  • [3] This includes Second Career and the Canada–Ontario Job Grant, as well as more recent sector-focused programs, including SkillsAdvance Ontario and the Sector Partnership Planning Grant.
  • [4] Kathryn McCullen, Centre for Education Statistics, Statistics Canada, “Postsecondary Education Participation among Underrepresented and Minority Groups,” Education Matters: Insights on Education, Learning and Training in Canada, 81-004-X, Vol. 8 no. 4, (December 14, 2011).
  • [5] Ronald G. Sultana, “Guidance Policies in the Knowledge Society: Trends, Challenges and Responses across Europe,” Cedefop Panorama Series; 85A, (2004).
  • [6] Ontario Ministry of Education, “Ontario’s Well-Being Strategy for Education: Promoting Well-Being in Ontario’s Education System,” (2017),
  • [7] MCI Research, IRCC Permanent Resident Landings Data Q4 2017, (March 2018).
  • [8] Roslyn Kunin & Associates, Inc., “Economic Impact of International Education in Canada – 2016 Update,” (2016).
  • [9] Statistics Canada, “Contribution of International and Interprovincial Exports to Gross Domestic Product and Jobs, Excluding Mining, Oil and Gas Extraction,” (2013).
  • [10] Ontario Ministry of Finance calculations using data from Statistics Canada’s 2015 General Social Survey (CANSIM Table 113-0004).
  • [11] Sandrine Devillard et al., “The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Canada,” McKinsey Global Institute, (June 2017).
  • [12] Ontario Ministry of Finance calculations using data from Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census, (Catalogue number: 98-400-X2016304).
  • [13] Canadian Gender and Good Governance Alliance, “Directors’ Playbook,” (October 2017).
  • [14] George Desvaux et al., “Women Matter: Time to Accelerate – Ten years of insights into gender diversity,”McKinsey & Company, (October 2017).
  • [15] CSA Multilateral Staff Notice 58-309, Staff Review of Women on Boards and in Executive Officer Positions — Compliance with NI 58-101 Disclosure of Corporate Governance Practices, (October 5, 2017).
  • [16] Ministry of Labour, “The Changing Workplaces Review: An Agenda for Workplace Rights – Final Report,” (May 2017).
  • [17] Dave Sawyer, Jotham Peters and Seton Stiebert, “Impact Modelling and Analysis of Ontario’s Cap and Trade Program,” EnviroEconomics, Navius Research and Dillon Consulting, (2016).
  • [18] RE$EARCH Infosource Inc., “Canada’s Top 50 Research Universities,” (November 2017).
Updated: April 11, 2019
Published: March 28, 2018