Chapter 1, Section C: Protecting What Matters Most


The most fundamental responsibility of the government of Ontario is to protect and preserve health care, education and the other key public services that Ontario families rely on every day.

One of the reasons for restoring Ontario’s finances to balance is to ensure that the government retains the fiscal capacity to make necessary investments in hospitals, schools and other core services during a time of expected demographic and economic change.

Protecting what matters most begins by working smarter and investing smarter. To end hallway health care, the government must put patients first and find new approaches that help make the health care system run better for patients and families. More dollars need to be targeted to front-line workers in the health care system, such as doctors, nurses and other health care practitioners.

The government must work towards an education system that is modern and forward-thinking about the workforce of the future. It must focus its resources on those in the education system that need it the most, including students with special needs. It must make changes that respect parents, support students and give educators the tools they need to help students succeed and find good jobs in the modern economy.

Protecting what matters most means making every dollar count when investing in the province’s world-class health care and education systems, and other cherished public services. It means providing more choice and access to child care for hard-working parents. It also means eliminating the autism waitlist, improving community safety and protecting the environment.

Ontario will commit up to $1.0 billion over the next five years to create up to 30,000 child care spaces in schools, including approximately 10,000 spaces in new schools. These school-based child care settings will provide safe learning environments for children and offer them the opportunity to grow in a familiar environment.

Respecting and Supporting Families

Helping Families with Their Child Care Expenses

The cost of child care can be a barrier to employment, especially for parents with young children. To help reduce the cost of child care, the government proposes to introduce the Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit that would support working families, particularly families with low and moderate incomes. The CARE tax credit would be one of the most flexible child care initiatives ever introduced in Ontario, putting parents at the centre of the decision-making process.

The proposed tax credit could raise the incomes of working parents and help experienced employees return to work sooner after a parental leave or job separation. The reduced child care costs resulting from this proposal could expand Ontario’s workforce by about 9,000 to 19,000 people, helping businesses stay competitive.1

The CARE tax credit would help eligible families choose the care that is right for their children. Currently, families in need of child care may have few affordable options beyond subsidized daycare, which may not be available nearby or may have a long waitlist. The CARE tax credit would provide relief from expenses, enabling families to access a broad range of child care options, including care in centres, homes and camps. The CARE tax credit would also be easy to access because it would not require families to gather additional information for their income tax forms.

With this new Personal Income Tax credit, eligible families would receive up to 75 per cent of their eligible child care expenses incurred as of January 1, 2019. Each year, the CARE tax credit would provide up to $6,000 per child under the age of seven, up to $3,750 per child between the ages of seven and 16, and up to $8,250 per child with a severe disability. The CARE tax credit would cost about $390 million annually and provide about $1,250 per family, on average, in new child care support to about 300,000 families.

Chart 1.11 shows examples of families (like Ashley and Alex) receiving child care support with the addition of the proposed Ontario CARE tax credit.

Chart 1.11: Additional Support for Families
Accessible description of Chart 1.11

The CARE tax credit would target relief to eligible families with incomes up to $150,000. The Child Care Expense Deduction, which provides provincial and federal tax relief for eligible child care expenses, provides greater tax relief, on average, to higher-income families as a percentage of their expenses. In contrast, the CARE tax credit would provide a higher credit rate to families with lower incomes, filling the gap in support for these families (see Chart 1.12). Lower-income families who would benefit include those joining the workforce or deciding to work more hours.

Chart 1.12: Filling the Gap in Child Care Support
Accessible description of Chart 1.12

Families would be able to claim the proposed Ontario CARE tax credit when they file their tax returns, starting with the 2019 tax year.

Photo of worker with text: Low-income individuals and families tax credit

Providing Tax Relief for Individuals and Families

Lower-income families benefiting from the CARE tax credit may also receive tax relief through the Low-income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit, available as of January 1, 2019, which was announced in the 2018 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review.

For Jenny and George, the LIFT Credit and the cancellation of the cap-and-trade carbon tax could provide $1,530 in total relief. See Chart 1.13 for more details.

Chart 1.13: Jenny and George
Accessible description of Chart 1.13

With the proposed CARE tax credit, Alice, Raymond, Avery and Jack could benefit by $3,733 in net relief. See Chart 1.14 for more details.

Chart 1.14: Alice, Raymond, Avery and Jack
Accessible description of Chart 1.14

Putting Parents and Their Children First

The Province is making life easier for parents and families by helping them find more affordable child care and early years options. This is why the government is removing some restrictions on independent child care operators as well as authorized recreational and skill-building programs, such as after school programs for children in full-day kindergarten.

These changes will help increase access to child care and early years programs while maintaining high standards and aligning age eligibility rules with kindergarten and camps.

Photo of two children and a parent with text: EarlyON and family centres increasing options for Ontario families

The changes include:

  • Increasing the number of young children that independent child care operators can have in their care, from two children under two years old to three children under two years old;
  • Lowering the age at which independent child care operators must count their own children towards the maximum allowable number of children in care, from six years of age to four years of age;
  • Reducing the age requirement for children to access authorized after-school recreation programs from six years of age to four years of age; and
  • Removing the restriction that a parent must receive financial assistance before licensed in-home child care services can be provided for their child.

By reducing red tape and administrative burden for home-based child care providers, the Province could enable increased access to child care for approximately 4,000 children under two years old.

Increasing Access for Children with Special Needs

To further support children with developmental disabilities, Ontario will invest in the construction of the Grandview Children’s Centre in Ajax and the Children’s Treatment Centre at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) campus in Ottawa. This will reduce wait times for services, address capacity issues and optimize program efficiencies by integrating the delivery of rehabilitation services, thereby reducing travel times for families having to visit multiple sites.

Enhancing Support for Children with Autism

Image of old and new plans with text: Old plan - 23,000 children on waitlists and new plan - clearing the waitlist so that all children with autism have access to services

The government is working to move all 23,000 children off the waitlist within an 18-month period so they have timely access to support.

Consistent with the government’s March 21, 2019, announcement, the Province is enhancing previously announced reforms, particularly to ensure all children receive support. This includes expanding eligible services, smoothing the transition for families receiving services, and ensuring all families of children and youth under the age of 18 with a written diagnosis of autism from a qualified professional will now be eligible for a Childhood Budget.

Providing Tax Relief for Families When They Need It the Most

The death of a loved one is a difficult time for a family. This is why the government proposes to reduce and simplify the Estate Administration Tax, and to provide more time to file the required information for the tax. While all taxable estates would benefit, these proposed changes would particularly help families with limited financial resources who may not be able to afford professional advice and assistance in complying with the Estate Administration Tax Act, 1998.

Ontario has one of the highest tax rates in Canada on large estates. Ontario is proposing to provide an Estate Administration Tax cut for all taxable estates. Effective January 1, 2020, the Estate Administration Tax would be eliminated for taxable estates with assets of $50,000 or less, and would be reduced by $250 for larger taxable estates.

In 2020, there will be an estimated 30,000 taxable estates. With these proposed changes, about 2,500 of these estates would be exempt from paying Estate Administration Tax. The tax burden on all other estates that pay the tax would also be reduced, providing an average tax cut across all taxable estates of about 20 per cent. See the Annex: Details of Tax Measures for more information.

Cutting red tape is a priority for this government. Ontario intends to reduce the compliance burden of the Estate Administration Tax by extending the deadlines for filing information returns and other related reporting requirements.

Since the previous government’s changes in 2015, estate representatives have been required to file an Estate Administration Tax Information Return after receiving an estate certificate. The Information Return must be filed with the Ontario Ministry of Finance within 90 calendar days after an estate certificate is issued.

To reduce the compliance burden on families, Ontario intends to extend the deadline for filing Information Returns with the Ministry of Finance from 90 days to 180 days.

In some circumstances, the estate representative must also file an amended Information Return (for example, if they become aware that earlier valuations provided on an Information Return were not correct). Ontario also intends to extend the deadline for filing amended Information Returns from 30 days to 60 days.

The government proposes that these changes would take effect January 1, 2020.

The fiscal impact of these measures is expected to be about $10 million annually. In addition, the government will explore options to provide further Estate Administration Tax relief, including additional tax relief in respect of charitable donations.

The Estate Administration Tax is paid by estate representatives on behalf of taxable estates. Chart 1.15 shows three illustrative examples of tax relief provided through this proposed tax cut.

Chart 1.15: Reducing the Estate Administration Tax Burden
Accessible description of Chart 1.15

Protecting Health Care for the People

Photo of stethoscope with text: Working to create better connected health care

The centre of the health care system must be Ontario’s patients, who deserve a seamless health care experience regardless of who is treating them or where the treatment occurs. For too long, the health care system has lacked fundamental accountability for how health care dollars are spent. Every health care dollar diverted unnecessarily from patient services is a dollar being wasted.

To continue with its efforts to end hallway health care, the government is moving forward with changes to health care delivery in Ontario by making the system easier to navigate and shifting health care dollars from the bureaucracy to front-line care. Moving towards an integrated health care delivery model, Ontario Health Teams will improve transitions in care and reduce waitlists for services.

With the Province’s support and guidance, these Ontario Health Teams will organize care delivery according to the needs of their local communities, thereby allowing groups of health care providers, such as hospitals, physicians, mental health professionals, and home and community care providers, to coordinate the care requirements in their area as a single team of providers. Early adopters will be announced in summer 2019, and provincewide implementation is expected in 2020.

To coordinate health care delivery oversight, reduce health care bureaucracy and regional administration silos even further, the government will continue the process of consolidating six existing Provincial health agencies and the costly and duplicative Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) into a new, single agency. The new agency, Ontario Health, will strengthen what’s working by bringing resources together to assess ideas and successes that can be used to improve other programs and care for patients.

The government will also:

  • Implement a digital first for health strategy that will increase the use of virtual care and give the people of Ontario digital tools to access their own personal health information; and
  • Create a centralized procurement system to better manage the purchasing of products and devices for hospitals, home and community care, and long-term care. Through an integrated health sector supply chain that builds on current, successful models, the inconsistent fragmented system will be transformed into a coordinated one, aligned under the oversight of a single authority — Ontario Health.

Through these efforts, the government is prioritizing patients over processes and directing more health care spending to where it is needed the most: to the front line for care that is better coordinated, now and in the future.

Ending Hallway Health Care

Across the province, patients are receiving health care in the hallways of hospitals, many of them waiting for spaces to open in more appropriate care settings, such as long-term care homes or in the community. The first interim report from the Premier’s Council on Improving Health Care and Ending Hallway Medicine, Hallway Health Care: A System Under Strain, notes that there are at least 1,000 patients receiving health care in the hallways of hospitals on any given day and that the average wait time to access a bed in a long-term care home is 146 days. Other key findings of the Council include:

  • Difficulties in navigating the health care system and long wait times that are having a negative impact on patients’ health and on family, provider and caregiver well-being.
  • Capacity pressures to meet demand in the health care system already exist, while the appropriate mix of services, beds and digital tools needed for the expected increase in complex-care needs is not available.
  • More effective coordination at the system level and at the point of care would make the system more efficient and achieve better value for taxpayer money.
Photo of hospital hallway with text: Ending hallway health care

The Province has also been exploring innovative approaches to add much-needed capacity as well as community and long-term care supports as quickly and as efficiently as possible to ensure that patients have a place to go when they are ready to leave the hospital. At the same time, critical decisions have been made, and will continue to be required, to help address hallway health care.

In fall 2018, the government took immediate steps to deliver on its promise to end hallway health care by investing $90 million for 1,100 beds and spaces in hospitals and in the community, including more than 640 new beds and spaces for:

  • Humber River Hospital Reactivation Care Centre, Church Site;
  • North Bay Regional Health Centre;
  • Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and Hogarth Riverview Manor;
  • Bayshore HealthCare, Toronto;
  • Cooksville Care Centre;
  • Sinai Health System — Bridgepoint; and
  • Pine Villa, Toronto.

This urgent action helped communities prepare for last winter’s flu season and reduced the strain on the health care system by creating new capacity, as well as enhancing existing capacity in high priority areas both in hospitals and in the community, particularly in communities experiencing high rates of unconventional bed use.

The government will invest an additional $384 million in the hospital sector as part of its efforts to end hallway health care by maintaining critical hospital capacity, increasing access to highly specialized and innovative treatments, and supporting volume growth.

To further support ending hallway health care and provide those living at home with additional supports and services, the government is investing $267 million in additional funding for home and community care. This will include investments focused on increasing front-line care delivery, such as personal support services, nursing, therapy and other professional services at home and in the community. Investments will also provide community supports such as meals and transportation, assisted living services in supportive housing, services for people with an acquired brain injury and services for Indigenous peoples and Francophones. Increasing access to support in the community is expected to enable more people to get care when and where they need it. As the population grows and ages, expanded home and community care is also expected to reduce waitlists for long-term care and decrease pressures on hospitals, thereby alleviating hallway health care.

An important step in addressing critical system capacity issues is building partnerships between hospitals, the community and long-term care sectors to support transitional care. By creating transitional care spaces, patients can move from a hospital bed to a transitional care bed in the community (such as a retirement home) to receive appropriate care until they are ready to return home or move into the right setting. This will ensure care is closely integrated and, at the same time, reduce the pressures on hospitals.

Building and Renewing Ontario Hospitals

Photo of doctor and patient with text: Improving hospitals to ensure quality health care across Ontario

The government is moving forward quickly to address challenges facing the health care system by developing a long-term health care strategy that focuses resources on patient needs to end hallway health care. As this important work continues, the Province will provide approximately $17 billion in capital grants over the next 10 years to modernize and increase capacity at hospitals, and address urgent issues.

Health capital investment is a critical component of the government’s strategy to end hallway health care. Investing in new facilities to expand services and ensuring existing facilities are maintained in a state of good repair will ensure that the people of Ontario have access to care when and where they need it.

Across the province, approximately 60 major hospital projects are currently under construction or in various stages of planning. The government is committed to working with hospitals to implement these projects to meet local health system needs.

Chart 1.16: Examples of Hospital Projects in Planning
Accessible description of Chart 1.16

Creating Long-Term Care Solutions

A larger and well-functioning long-term care sector is a crucial part of the government’s priority to end hallway health care. The challenge is to provide high-quality care to a growing aging population while building additional capacity. Today, too many patients are kept in hospital while waiting for space in a long-term care home.

The creation of 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years will help the government address hallway health care and move patients to a more comfortable care setting. This capacity would be in addition to the existing 78,500 beds in the system. Furthermore, the government is committed to upgrading an additional 15,000 older long-term care beds to modern design standards, which will allow the long-term care sector to provide more appropriate care to those with complex health conditions. These measures represent a total investment of approximately $1.75 billion in additional funding over five years.

To support this commitment to new long-term care beds, in addition to the over 6,000 new beds previously allocated, the government is moving forward immediately with the allocation of an additional 1,157 new long-term care beds through 16 projects across the province.

Table 1.3
Summary of Additional Long-Term Care Beds Projects
Proposed City Project Name Proposed Allocated Beds Total # of Beds in Project
Markham Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care 256 256
Athens Maple View Lodge 132 192
Orillia Westmount Lodge 160 160
Owen Sound Southbridge Care Homes. 91 160
Collingwood Collingwood Nursing Home 40 160
Midland Villa Care Centre 32 160
Scarborough Hellenic Home for the Aged Inc. 128 128
Sault Ste. Marie Sault Area Hospital Long-Term Care 128 128
Komoka Country Village Long-Term Care Home 8 128
Palmerston Royal Terrace 29 96
Tecumseh Brouillette Manor 36 96
Mount Forest Saugeen Valley Nursing Center 9 96
Ailsa Craig Craigholme Nursing Home 9 92
Welland Royal Rose Place 64 64
Strathroy Sprucedale Care Centre 32 32
Milverton Knollcrest Lodge 3 3
Total   1,157 1,951

Less than a year into its mandate, the government has announced over 7,200 beds — almost half of its 15,000 commitment.

Over the coming months, additional proposals for new long-term care beds will be evaluated and new beds will be allocated in locations where services are most needed now and will be in the future, and to projects that will offer specialized services to meet the complex needs of people who may be waiting in a hospital for more appropriate care.

As well, the government will be making it easier to find land for new long-term care home developments. The government’s efforts to reduce red tape and streamline processes to sell buildings and properties means that these properties will be more easily evaluated prior to sale to determine if they can be used for long-term care spaces. This is just another way the government is making better use of surplus government properties and land. The future of health care in Ontario will include modern long-term care homes in which residents can expect to receive the care they deserve and live in a dignified, home-like environment.

Modernizing Ontario’s Public Health Units

Ontario currently has 35 public health units across the province delivering programs and services, including monitoring and population health assessments, emergency management and the prevention of injuries. Funding for public health units is shared between the Province and the municipalities.

However, the current structure of Ontario’s public health units does not allow for consistent service delivery, could be better coordinated with the broader system and better aligned with current government priorities. This is why Ontario’s Government for the People is modernizing the way public health units are organized, allowing for a focus on Ontario’s residents, broader municipal engagement, more efficient service delivery, better alignment with the health care system, and more effective staff recruitment and retention to improve public health promotion and prevention.

As part of its vision for organizing Ontario public health, the government will, as first steps in 2019–20:

  • Improve public health program and back-office efficiency and sustainability while providing consistent, high-quality services, be responsive to local circumstances and needs by adjusting provincial–municipal cost-sharing of public health funding; and
  • Streamline the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion to enable greater flexibility with respect to non-critical standards based on community priorities.

The government will also:

  • Establish 10 regional public health entities and 10 new regional boards of health with one common governance model by 2020–21;
  • Modernize Ontario’s public health laboratory system by developing a regional strategy to create greater efficiencies across the system and reduce the number of laboratories; and
  • Protect what matters most by ensuring public health agencies focus their efforts on providing better, more efficient front-line care by removing back-office inefficiencies through digitizing and streamlining processes.

Building a Partnership with Ontario’s Doctors

The government values the significant contribution of Ontario’s doctors in providing safe, effective and quality care to individuals and families across the province. For the first time in years, the government has a strengthened relationship with Ontario’s physicians.

The government has made it a primary objective to reset the relationship with Ontario’s doctors in a way that respects physicians while balancing the need to provide patients with the care they deserve and sustaining Ontario’s public health care system. Given that physicians are at the forefront of patient care and delivery, the government respects the recently arbitrated decision on a new physician services agreement.

This is a positive step forward. The government is committed to a renewed and productive working relationship with the Ontario Medical Association and Ontario's doctors.

Reviewing Ontario’s Publicly Funded Drug Benefit Program

Ontario’s Government for the People is committed to focusing benefits on those who need them the most. The government will continue its work to examine the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, with the objective of creating a sustainable drug system.

Ontario’s Government for the People is already making changes to the way benefits are delivered to focus on those who need them the most. Effective April 1, 2019, children and youth under the age of 25 who are not covered by private plans will continue to receive coverage for eligible prescription medications from the government; children and youth who are covered by private insurance will bill those plans. This plan remains affordable while ensuring children and youth will continue to receive the prescription drugs they need.

The government will continue to look at ways to further redesign the Ontario Drug Benefit Program to make its programs more efficient including:

  • Providing timely access to new clinically proven medicines while continuing efforts to lower drug costs;
  • Modernizing and strengthening oversight of payments to pharmacies; and
  • Reducing the administrative burden for clinicians and red tape for the industry wherever possible.

Expanding the Scope of Practice for Health Professions for Faster, More Patient-Centred Care

To support the government’s vision for a health care system that enhances access to services and the patient experience, the government will enable regulated health professionals to use their education and training more effectively by expanding the scope of practice for certain regulated health professionals, such as pharmacists, nurse practitioners, dental specialists and optometrists. This is a basic change that can save time and money, and get you healthier quicker.

These changes will improve convenience for patients by reducing the time spent travelling between providers for multiple visits for diagnostic tests and routine care and treatment, and help doctors, nurses and other health care professionals provide better, faster health care for patients and their families.

By reducing regulatory barriers to accessing up-to-date drug therapies, for example, health care providers will have more treatment options for their patients, thereby alleviating the need to make referrals to other providers, who can then focus their time and attention on patients with more serious and/or complex conditions.

Improving Treatment for Mental Health and Addictions

The mental health and addictions system in Ontario has been challenged for too long by extensive wait times, barriers to access, inconsistent quality, a lack of standardized data and widespread fragmentation. This was confirmed during the government’s provincewide consultations with experts, providers, and people with lived experience.

Photo of doctor and patient with text: Mental health and addictions care infrastructure - improving service to ensure safe, quality care

That is why Ontario’s Government for the People is committed to investing $3.8 billion for mental health, addictions and housing supports over 10 years to address these issues, beginning with building a mental health and addictions system focused on core services embedded in a stepped-care model, and a robust data and measurement framework.

Investments of $174 million in 2019–20 will support community mental health and addictions services, mental health and justice services, supportive housing, and acute mental health inpatient beds. Services will also target priority populations, such as Indigenous peoples and Francophones.

Supporting Ontario’s First Responders

The government is working to ensure the health care system is sustainable and accessible for all patients and families. Demand for ambulance services continues to grow in Ontario, with over 1.1 million patient transports taking place each year. In partnership with the municipal sector, the government continues to support the delivery of critical front-line health services with a combined investment of $1.5 billion in emergency health services. The number of calls for emergency medical services has grown by almost 3.5 per cent each year, while costs have grown at six per cent annually.

To support the critical work of emergency health first responders, the government is continuing to invest in supports for mental health and in reducing the time it takes to deliver patients to busy emergency departments. In addition, the government is exploring new models of care and delivery for emergency health services to improve care for patients and reduce duplication.

The government continues to support emergency health first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This disorder can affect paramedics and ambulance communications officers in Ontario who provide compassionate, life-saving care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in every corner of the province. Under the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act, a PTSD diagnosis for certain workers is now presumed to be work-related — they no longer need to prove it. This includes first responders, including police officers and correctional officers, youth service workers, emergency dispatchers and others, and gives these workers faster access to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefits, resources and timely treatment.

Select 911 medical emergency patients who are transported to emergency departments may be more appropriately treated in other health care settings. The government will be exploring how to support better care for patients in places other than the emergency department and ensure patient safety. The government will also look at how to ensure more of its investment in emergency health services is going towards direct services for patients.

Protecting OHIP against Misuse

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is a system built on trust and functions largely on an honour system. But for several years, the Auditor General of Ontario has found long-standing weakness in the laws, policies and processes that ensure accountability of OHIP. Greater oversight, transparency and updates are needed to improve how OHIP is managed and to ensure tax dollars are spent responsibly. This is why the Province will propose changes that will make billing and payments under OHIP more appropriate and transparent, so it can deliver the best value for Ontarians. The changes include:

  • Ensuring OHIP only pays for appropriate, delivered services;
  • Making it easier for the government to recover funds when there are incorrect billings to OHIP;
  • Making it clearer to taxpayers what OHIP is paying for and to whom; and
  • Ensuring all remaining “red and white” health cards are converted to more secure photo health cards.

Enhancing the Quality and Efficiency of Ontario’s Public Health Care System

To ensure Ontario’s publicly funded health care system is sustainable and is available to those who need it the most, urgent action is required. This is why the government is making the decisions necessary to establish a smarter, more efficient and fiscally responsible approach to delivering Ontario’s health care programs. For example:

  • Land ambulance dispatch centres: The government will streamline the way land ambulance dispatch services are delivered by better integrating Ontario’s 59 emergency health services operators and 22 dispatch centres. The government will continue to support first responders by providing the right tools to ensure the right responders get to the right place with the right information at the right time, and by integrating emergency health services into Ontario’s health care system.
  • Home oxygen under the Assistive Devices Program: The government will implement more competitive pricing for home oxygen rates that would result in a reduction of about 17 per cent in price, with savings going to eligible clients who pay a 25 per cent co-payment. Individuals on social assistance would continue to receive benefits at no cost.
  • Changes to pharmacy payments: The government is considering moving to implement changes to the way pharmacies are paid by the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, including fees paid for filling prescriptions for long-term care home residents.

Doing What Is Right for Ontario’s Aging Population

Faced with an aging population, individual doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals need to be prepared to provide a health care system that is singularly focused on helping them help patients. Ontario’s vision is to help seniors remain independent, healthy, active, safe and socially connected.

Helping Seniors Live Safely and Independently

In Ontario, seniors are the fastest growing demographic, with the number increasing by 100,000 every year. In 2023, there will be 3 million seniors in Ontario, up from 2.3 million in 2017. The vast majority of seniors want to live independently in their own homes and communities, and where they can be active for as long as they are able. However, to do this, seniors require stronger supports to help them live safely and securely.

That is why the Province will be developing a new cross-government strategy to improve the lives of seniors and provide the supports and resources to help them live independently, ensure their safety and security, connect them to the community and help them achieve greater financial security and social connections.

Making Ontario More Accessible

Approximately one in four people in Ontario age 15 years and over has a disability, a number that increases to 43 per cent among seniors. Disabilities can range from flexibility and mobility to vision and hearing. As the population continues to age, the numbers are expected to rise in terms of frequency and seriousness. Ontario’s Government for the People will work to ensure people with disabilities have the support and resources they need to live fulfilling and productive lives.

The built environment continues to be a challenge for people with disabilities and seniors. This is why the government will partner with the Rick Hansen Foundation to launch the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility CertificationTM program in select communities across the province. With a $1.3 million investment over two years, this program will prepare accessibility assessments of businesses and public buildings and, together with property managers and owners, determine ways to remove any identified barriers for people with visible and invisible disabilities.

Building an Education System For Success

The government is strengthening its world-class education system in Ontario, with particular emphasis on math, science and financial literacy as well as skilled trades, to support future scientists, engineers, doctors and tradespeople. This will also ensure that the needs, interests and strengths of all students are fulfilled to successfully prepare them for graduation, community and beyond.

The government is moving forward with an education curriculum that respects the wishes of parents while teaching students the skills they need to find rewarding careers in the modern economy. The government is also challenging the province’s schools and school boards to focus resources on the needs of students.

Laying the Groundwork for Student Success

The Province is listening to parents and consulting with education partners to improve Ontario’s education system, from kindergarten to Grade 12, while building a more sustainable path forward. The Province is committed to supporting and enhancing student educational outcomes while also improving efficiency and accountability with respect to education funding. These long-term reforms will improve the sustainability and effectiveness of Ontario’s education system. Since the fall of 2018, the Province has been consulting with its education partners and with parents on its plan to modernize classrooms and education funding, as well as consulting on class sizes and hiring practices for teachers. Most recently, in March 2019, the Province released two consultation guides on class sizes in Grades 1 to 12 and hiring practices. The prior consultations, as well as the most recent round of consultations, will help shape the government’s education plan.

Aligning Class Size for Student Success

The government agrees with its sector partners that it is important to protect class sizes in the early grades. This is why the government’s education plan keeps hard class size caps in place from kindergarten to Grade 3.

For older students, the government proposes to require all school boards to maintain an average class size of 24.5 in Grades 4 to 8, representing an average increase of one student per class. For the oldest students in Grades 9 to 12, the government’s plan would require school boards to maintain average class sizes of 28. This aligns with the class size requirements in other Canadian provinces while also helping prepare older students for classroom environments in postsecondary institutions. The government will continue to consult with education stakeholders, including its labour partners, on this plan. These consultations will close at the end of May 2019.

Strengthening Teacher Hiring Practices

The government’s objective is to work with its education partners to improve teacher mobility while increasing transparency, fairness, consistency and accountability in teacher hiring across all school boards. Ontario’s students deserve the best teacher available in each and every classroom, and principals should be empowered to hire teachers based on merit and fit for role.

To provide students with the best access to qualified teachers, the Province is reviewing existing regulationsto:

  • Provide increased mobility for teachers in Ontario;
  • Ensure that teaching positions are filled by the right candidate;
  • Simplify the hiring process to reduce turnover in the classroom;
  • Reduce bias in hiring by addressing conflict of interest;
  • Ensure equity and diversity in hiring practices; and
  • Apply to all the school systems, including the French-language school boards.

Improving Access to Education for Indigenous Students

The Province is committed to supporting Indigenous student achievement and well-being. Improving access to education for Indigenous students is part of the government’s plan to create jobs, grow the economy and support the people of Ontario in their everyday lives.

To support Indigenous student retention and graduation rates, the Province will invest an additional $3.7 million in 2019–20 to fund a revised First Nations, Métis and Inuit studies curriculum for Grades 9-12 and the Indigenous Graduation Coach Program in targeted district school boards across the province. Indigenous graduation coaches have deeply rooted experiential ties to the Indigenous communities and their cultures, act as mentors and advisors to students, and facilitate access and referrals to academic supports and community resources to promote Indigenous student wellness and academic achievement.

Increasing Physical Activity and Meeting Diverse Needs

Establishing foundational skills and interests for students to participate in physical activity leads to lifelong engagement and well-being. Research shows that students would benefit from more opportunities for physical activity. To help meet the needs of a broader range of students, the Province will invest more than $0.5 million over three years to increase opportunities for students to participate in physical activities, such as cricket, at school. This funding would provide seed funding to school boards and third-party organizations to promote cricket as an opportunity to meet the diverse needs and interests of students.

Conducting the Largest Education Consultation in Ontario’s History

Upon assuming office, Ontario’s Government for the People took immediate steps to initiate a broad-ranging curriculum consultation to which all the people of Ontario, in particular, all Ontario parents, were invited to participate. Consultations ran from September to December 2018, during which time the government received over 72,000 submissions which included the participation of parents, students, educators, employers and organizations from across Ontario. This was the largest education consultation in Ontario’s history.

Photo of adult and child reading a book with text: Consultations on education

Feedback received from these consultations has helped inform policy and program decisions in the following areas:

  • Improving student performance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM);
  • Preparing students for work with important job skills, such as skilled trades and coding;
  • Improving provincial standardized testing;
  • Ensuring students graduate with important life skills, such as financial literacy;
  • Managing the use of technology in classrooms, such as cellphones;
  • Building a new, age-appropriate Health and Physical Education curriculum that includes subjects such as mental health, sexual health education and the legalization of cannabis; and
  • Developing the first-ever Ministry of Education Parents’ Bill of Rights.

Developing a Parents’ Bill of Rights

To ensure that the rights of parents are respected, the Province will begin drafting a Ministry of Education Parents’ Bill of Rights. Designed to improve communication with parents, Ontario would be the first province in Canada to have a dedicated Parents’ Bill of Rights.

As part of the provincewide consultation, parents were asked what elements they wanted to see included in the Parents’ Bill of Rights. Respondents expressed it is important that parents play an active role in the education system and have open communication with schools and school boards. Parents also suggested that the Bill should include parents’ rights to withdraw their children from lessons, classes and schools that are teaching content they do not agree with, and allow parents to express an opinion about what their child is being taught in the classroom, especially with respect to health and physical education.

Creating a Minister’s Task Force on School Boards

The government is committed to ensuring that every dollar spent in the classroom is having the greatest impact on student achievement. This involves looking at all aspects of the education system, including school board operations, while respecting the four publicly funded education systems in Ontario. The Ministry of Education will be undertaking a thorough review of how boards can conduct their operations in the most efficient manner to best serve students and parents while ensuring their long-term sustainability. This process will be kicked off by the creation of a minister’s task force. The government looks forward to engaging with experts and education partners in this important conversation.

Focusing on Fundamentals — Curriculum Reform

The government is committed to restoring proven methods of teaching to ensure Ontario students have the skills they need to succeed. The Province will revise the Ontario curriculum based on research and feedback from the public consultations.

Modernizing the Education Quality and Accountability Office

The government is following through on its commitment to respect parents, teachers and students, and it will work with the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) to implement a better approach to standardized testing.

The EQAO was established as a Crown agency through the Education Quality and Accountability Office Act, 1996. The EQAO assessments are developed to align with the Ontario curriculum and evaluate students’ achievements in reading, writing and mathematics at key points in their learning to ensure that all students are being assessed according to a common provincial standard.

Developing a Mathematics Strategy Built for Success

Numeracy is an important skill for succeeding in the classroom, the workforce and everyday life. Mathematics scores of Ontario elementary students have been steadily declining over the last 10 years, as many students struggle to meet the minimum provincial standard. Results from the EQAO show that, between the 2008–09 and 2017–18 school years, the percentage of students who met the provincial standard in mathematics fell from 70 per cent to 61 per cent among students in Grade 3, and from 63 per cent to 49 per cent among students in Grade 6. This is why the government will implement a new four-year mathematics strategy to ensure that students have a strong understanding of the fundamentals.
Initiatives of the mathematics strategy include:

  • A new mathematics curriculum for all students in Grades 1 to 12 phased in over four years. The curriculum will move away from Discovery Math and back to fundamental math concepts and skills, such as traditional formulas and memorization techniques;
  • New teachers will be required to pass a math content knowledge test to become certified to teach in Ontario. For teachers already in the system, the government will provide funding to take additional qualification courses in math; and
  • Offering supports to parents and access to student learning opportunities outside of the school day, including summer learning and tutoring by third parties.

Enhancing Financial and Economic Literacy for Students

Financial and economic literacy is an important skill that enables citizens to understand how to manage their money, and how to invest it now and throughout their lives.2 It is important for young people to have the right skills to make informed financial and economic decisions to succeed both inside and outside the classroom. This can apply to everyday decisions such as buying groceries, and to bigger investments such as paying for tuition or buying a car. Data from the recent public consultations on education reform indicate that Ontario’s education system is not doing enough to provide students with important job and life skills, such as financial literacy. This is why the Province is enhancing the mathematics curriculum and the Grade 10 Career Studies course to better equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to make responsible economic and financial decisions.

Building a Better Education System

Better buildings support better learning for Ontario students. This is why the Province is investing almost $13 billion in capital grants over a 10-year period to help build new schools in high-growth areas and improve the condition of existing schools. This will include an investment of $1.4 billion in school renewal in the 2019–20 school year, which will result in critical improvements that help ensure student safety.

Chart 1.17: Examples of Recently Approved School Projects
Accessible description of Chart 1.17

Improving Safety and Security In Communities

The people of Ontario have a right to feel safe at home and in their communities. The government firmly believes that protecting individuals and families is one of its fundamental responsibilities. This is why it is prioritizing changes to the justice sector to ensure an integrated, efficient and sustainable criminal justice system that holds criminals accountable for their actions, puts the victim at the centre of the justice system and protects people from all walks of life.

Photo of police car with text: Protecting our communities

This includes ensuring the safety and security of the people of Ontario through justice sector modernization, effective crime prevention, police oversight and strong enforcement of the laws regarding cannabis sales and illegal cannabis dispensaries.

Modernizing the Justice System

Ontario’s Government for the People is committed to safety first, along with providing better value for money, and the justice system is no exception. The priority is to ensure that the system puts people first and is easy to navigate. To fix this, the government is modernizing and streamlining services in the justice sector — from policing to courts to corrections. It will develop a system that is more efficient and sustainable and empowers front-line staff. This will be achieved by:

  • Digitizing evidence collection and evidence sharing between police services and Crown attorneys;
  • Prioritizing video conferencing as the first option for most types of in-custody court appearances;
  • Diverting low-risk individuals from coming into the justice system and reducing the frequency of offenders committing another crime;
  • Continuing with the implementation of the bail bed program to provide beds in community-based facilities for vulnerable people awaiting bail and lacking shelter in Northern communities; and
  • Developing justice centres that will integrate justice, health, education, housing and social services to collectively address the complex intersection of risk factors that drive gun- and gang-related violence in Ontario.

As part of justice sector modernization, Ontario’s Government for the People is also modernizing legislation that, if passed, would optimize resources, streamline unnecessary processes and reduce unreasonable time delays by:

  • Allowing Ontario Court of Justice judges and justices of the peace who are appointed to different courts (e.g., the Ontario Superior Court of Justice) to finish cases in progress before they transition fully to their new appointments;
  • Moving to the use of a single, consolidated database to identify potential jurors;
  • Reducing the use of civil juries for simplified procedure trials; and
  • Allowing the Ontario Judicial Council and Justices of the Peace Review Council to publish their annual reports on their websites after submitting them to the Attorney General.

Strengthening Police Services

Every day, the brave men and women of Ontario’s police services dedicate themselves to keeping families and communities safe. Sometimes this requires police officers to put themselves in harm’s way. Occasionally, this requires that they respond to a crisis and make difficult, life-or-death decisions in the blink of an eye. Yet, no matter what, the people of Ontario can count on these brave men and women in uniform to protect them.

Photo of police officers with text: Treating police with respect - hashtag ONsafe <

It is time for the government to protect its police officers and fix the province’s policing legislation. This is why Ontario’s Government for the People has recently made legislative changes through the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019 to:

  • Strengthen public confidence in policing through enhanced police oversight in Ontario by creating one window for public complaints, reducing delays in the investigative process and ensuring more accountability;
  • Increase support for front-line police officers by mandating human rights, systemic racism, diversity and Indigenous training for new police officers, special constables and Police Service Board members; and
  • Improve police oversight by ensuring that law enforcement bodies meet reasonable standards of transparency and accountability.

By treating police officers with respect, the government is strengthening the relationship between the police and the public they serve.

The end result will be a safer Ontario for everyone.

Fighting Gun and Gang Violence

People need to feel safe in their homes and communities. Yet, in too many neighbourhoods and in too many cities across the province, the fear of gun-and gang-related violence looms large, leaving families terrified and isolated. This is why fighting gun and gang violence, which threatens the safety of families and neighbourhoods, requires urgent action and remains one of the key priorities of Ontario’s Government for the People.

Ontario has already committed $25 million in new funding to fight guns and gangs in the City of Toronto over four years to provide it with additional digital, investigative and analytical resources to fight drug gangs and gun criminals and to establish intensive firearm bail teams in each of Toronto’s courthouses.

The government recognizes that other Ontario cities, such as Ottawa, are also experiencing increased gun violence. This is why the Province is providing the Ottawa Police Service with $2 million this year to support initiatives to combat gun-and gang-related crime in its community.

The government is also investing $16.4 million over 2 years to create a provincewide strategy to help combat gun-and gang-related violence on all fronts throughout Ontario, and to keep all communities safe through initiatives that include:

  • Establishing a provincial Guns and Gangs Support Unit to assist local police officers and prosecutors. This is in addition to a dedicated Gun and Gang Specialized Investigations Fund to support joint forces operations targeting the organized crime areas that fuel gang operations, such as drug, gun and human trafficking, and provide intelligence analysis; and
  • Protecting the most vulnerable people with the highest risk of experiencing gun and gang violence and victimization — including Indigenous women and youth, as well as rural and racialized youth — through various initiatives aimed at keeping at-risk youth in school and preventing vulnerable people from being recruited by gangs.

Building Essential Infrastructure for Safety and Security in Communities

Along with modernizing the justice sector, the government will be taking action to keep the people of Ontario safe and to protect communities. To support this commitment, the government is moving forward with a series of investments, such as:

  • Constructing a new Toronto Courthouse that will amalgamate five Ontario Court of Justice criminal court locations and include improved safety and security features;
  • Building a new 21-courtroom Halton Region Consolidated Courthouse facility that will offer a broad range of justice, family, social and victim services and bring the Superior Court of Justice and Ontario Court of Justice operations together into one accessible location; and
  • Replacing aging facilities with new Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachments. These investments will ensure that communities can continue to receive modern, cost-effective and high-quality police services that are essential to public safety.

Strengthening Animal Welfare

Many households across the province have a pet, and these pets are a part of family life. The government recognizes the importance of animal welfare for small animals and livestock. Ontario’s Government for the People is actively reviewing existing legislation to ensure appropriate measures are in place to provide animals and their owners with the protections they deserve and the people of Ontario expect. The Province has already begun conversations with stakeholders and will continue seeking ideas and input. The goal is an approach that respects the rights of the people of Ontario and ultimately improves the animal welfare system across the province.

A Responsible Approach to Opening Cannabis Stores across Ontario

A common challenge currently facing Ontario and other provinces since cannabis was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018, is a national cannabis supply shortage brought on by the federal government’s mismanagement. By choosing to throw open the doors to cannabis legalization without first taking into account the reliability and sustainability of the national cannabis supply, the federal government is failing to curb the growth of the illegal cannabis market while also creating widespread business uncertainty for the people and businesses seeking to make a living in this new industry.

Ontario moved forward with rules aimed at keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, keeping roads safe and combatting the illegal market. The government opted to pursue a private retail model instead of the previous administration’s government-owned approach. This will allow businesses of all sizes to participate and compete in an open market system and provide consumers with greater choice, convenience and lower prices.

Since legalization, people across the province have been able to purchase recreational cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Store’s retail website. The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) is the exclusive wholesaler to private retailers, and these stores are being tightly regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Retail stores authorized by the AGCO are required to display the cannabis retail seal so that consumers can be confident they are buying quality products from a legal source.

In response to the national cannabis supply shortage, the government implemented a temporary cap of up to 25 retail store authorizations. These brick-and-mortar retail cannabis stores were permitted to begin opening on April 1, 2019. However, the government remains committed to moving towards an open allocation of licences where the number of stores is limited only by market demand.

To enable the opening of additional licensed stores, the government will develop a process to allow the AGCO to pre-qualify operators that seek to enter the market and participate in future allocations of retail store authorizations. The government is taking a market-oriented approach, which will allow private-sector businesses to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market.
Pre-qualification criteria may include:

  • The payment of a fee or obtaining a standby letter of credit;
  • Financial information, including information about corporate structure and affiliates;
  • Criminal and other background checks; and
  • Information confirming lease or ownership interests in potential retail store locations.

When Ontario has determined that the federal government has provided for enough reliable supply, it will issue further retail store authorizations, including in municipalities with a population of less than 50,000 and in First Nation communities.

Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe

Ontario’s Government for the People is steadfast in its message: driving high is never acceptable. This is why the Province passed “zero means zero” tolerance measures targeting young, novice and commercial drivers: these drivers must have no presence of alcohol, cannabis or any other drug that impairs driving.

Increasing the Housing Supply in Ontario

Photo of person holding keys with text: More housing, more choices, more affordable

Housing is one of the largest costs facing Ontario families and a cost that has risen sharply in most areas of the province in recent years. This, in part, reflects an inadequate supply of housing in the province. Demand for housing in Ontario, particularly in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, has been strong in recent years, while housing supply has been less responsive than in the past. This has contributed to higher resale house prices and rents.

According to the RBC Housing Affordability Aggregate Measure, in the third quarter of 2018, the share of household income required to cover the ownership costs associated with an average-priced home in the Toronto area was 75.3 per cent. This compares to the long-term average of 50.1 per cent. Estimates of mortgage carrying costs point to affordability challenges in other cities, including Hamilton, Kitchener and St. Catharines.3

Chart 1.18: RBC Housing Affordability Measures — Toronto Area
Accessible description of Chart 1.18

This erosion in housing affordability also applies to the rental market. The vacancy rate in Ontario was 1.8 per cent in 2018, below its long-term average of 2.6 per cent. As a result, rents have increased rapidly in Ontario in recent years. Average rents in Ontario increased 3.8 per cent in 2017 and 4.8 per cent in 2018, well above the pace of growth of average weekly earnings in Ontario.4

Chart 1.19: Ontario Average Rent Growth Has Accelerated in Recent Years
Accessible description of Chart 1.19

In the 2018 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, the government announced policies to increase the supply of housing in the province. This included the reintroduction of the rent control exemption for new units, which will help incent new unit development. The government also committed to delivering a Housing Supply Action Plan and to introducing legislation by spring 2019. The Ontario government has been taking the lead in addressing affordability issues without waiting for further studies or expert panels.

The government has held consultations on creating more housing, with a focus on the barriers to new ownership and rental housing. The consultation asked for input on five themes:

  • Speed: it takes too long for development projects to get approved.
  • Mix: there are too many restrictions on what can be built to get the right mix of housing where it is needed.
  • Cost: development costs are too high because of high land prices and government-imposed fees and charges.
  • Rent: tenants need to be protected, and it should be easier to be a landlord in Ontario.
  • Innovation: other concerns, opportunities and innovations to increase housing supply.

The Province is committed to reducing the barriers that prevent people from getting the housing they can afford and that meets their needs. The action plan will make it easier to develop the right mix of housing where it is needed, lower the costs of development, make it easier to develop rental housing and address other concerns and opportunities to increase the housing supply.

The Housing Supply Action Plan will also support the reduction of red tape, making it easier to live and do business in Ontario. In addition, the plan will help support the residential construction industry, which is a major source of employment in Ontario and an important part of the province’s economy. A stable housing market with sufficient supply will also help attract new investment to Ontario.

OHBA strongly believes that a healthy housing system exists when a city or region has the right mix of housing choices and supply that are able to address all residents’ shelter needs through their full life cycle. A properly functioning housing system should provide stability to both renters and owners, at prices people can afford and in the choice that meets their needs...Transformative action by the province is required to address the complex issues impacting the housing system and our members’ ability to deliver new supply.”

Ontario Home Builders’ Association Housing Supply Action Plan Submission, January 2019

Providing Affordable Housing

Ontario’s community housing system has complex rules and red tape that make it difficult for people to find affordable housing that suits their unique needs. Through the Community Housing Renewal Strategy, the government will stabilize and grow Ontario’s community housing sector, making it more efficient, sustainable and easier to navigate for the people of Ontario and community housing providers. This Strategy, along with the Housing Supply Action Plan, will help the people of Ontario find a home that meets their needs and their budget.

The Community Housing Renewal Strategy will focus on supporting individuals and families who have difficulty finding stable affordable housing. This includes:

  • Protecting and expanding affordable housing by creating incentives for community housing providers to continue to provide housing and improve sustainability;
  • Simplifying rent-geared-to-income calculations to reduce the administrative burden and improve processes for tenants, service managers and housing providers;
  • Streamlining and updating waitlist and eligibility rules to better match applicants for social housing with solutions that meet their needs; and
  • Addressing community safety concerns especially for the most vulnerable, including seniors and children.

Ontario is also supporting affordable housing through the National Housing Strategy. The National Housing Strategy bilateral agreement between the federal government and the Province of Ontario will provide approximately $4 billion in federal and provincial funding for the Ontario housing sector over the next nine years. Programs under the National Housing Strategy, such as the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative and the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative will leverage federal, municipal and provincial funding to protect affordability for individuals and families in social housing, and support repair and renewal of existing supply as well as expand supply.

Under the National Housing Strategy, the Province will also be negotiating and co-designing the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to create a housing benefit that would address housing affordability.

Providing Supportive Housing and Homelessness Services

Supportive housing helps people with complex needs maintain stable housing and have an overall better quality of life. Ontario has more than 20 supportive housing programs assisting more than 90,000 people with a wide range of support needs. This includes Indigenous people, those with mental health issues, developmental and physical disabilities or people who have experienced homelessness.

The Province’s current supportive housing system is difficult for people to navigate and does not effectively address the unique needs of individuals. To improve the flexibility of the system and the outcomes for people, the government will undertake a comprehensive review to identify opportunities to streamline and improve coordination of the Province’s supportive housing programs. This is an important step to ensure that the Province provides quality supportive housing with a focus on the needs and outcomes of clients, which can also help reduce cost pressures on other services, such as the health care and the justice systems.

Renewing the Partnership with Municipalities

Investing in Municipal Efficiencies

The Province is working with municipalities to help them find efficiencies in the way that local services are delivered to residents. The Province provided $200 million to support the modernization efforts of 405 small and rural municipalities so that these communities can achieve efficiencies. This can enable important modernization efforts, such as information technology solutions, service delivery reviews and the development of shared services agreements, all of which would help reduce future municipal costs and achieve value for money.

Working Collaboratively with Municipalities

This government recognizes municipalities as responsible and accountable governments with respect to matters within their jurisdiction. Every day, municipal governments make decisions and deliver services that impact the lives of families and businesses throughout Ontario. Indeed, they are often the level of government closest to the day-to-day lives of Ontario families. This is why the government is taking meaningful action to support municipalities in a sustainable and responsible way.

Since taking office, the government has:

  • Reinforced its partnership with municipalities by signing a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO); reflecting a desire to consult and work together to address the challenges faced by government;
  • Addressed two critical issues affecting Ontario’s firefighting sector: fairness for professional firefighters and the efficiency of the interest arbitration system;
  • Announced $40 million over two years to help municipalities with the implementation costs of recreational cannabis legalization. In addition, if Ontario’s portion of the federal excise duty on recreational cannabis over the first two years of legalization exceeds $100 million, the Province will provide 50 per cent of the surplus to those municipalities that have not opted-out of having cannabis retail stores within their boundaries;
  • Introduced legislation to clarify the authority of municipalities to make rules for the consumption of cannabis, similar to the rules currently in place for tobacco;
  • Responded to concerns expressed by municipalities by announcing that the structure of the 2019 Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) will remain the same as in 2018, while allowing for annual data updates and related adjustments;
  • Announced that it will be providing $30 million over five years to 39 municipalities through the Ontario Community Transportation Grant Program to partner with community organizations to coordinate local transportation services;
  • Made reforms to deliver better local government and launched a review of regional government; and
  • Launched a review of the municipal reporting burden to ensure that only necessary information is collected.

The line-by-line review of Ontario’s spending conducted by EY Canada found that growth in transfer payments has been unsustainable. As recommended in EY Canada’s report entitled Managing Transformation — A Modernization Action Plan for Ontario, the government is committed to driving greater efficiencies and value for money, thereby protecting services for the future. This commitment will also be required from all partners, including municipalities.

The people of Ontario are counting on all governments to work together to make life better for their communities.

Reviewing Regional Governance

The Province is undertaking a review of regional government and is committed to improving the way it works. The regional government model has been in place for almost 50 years in Ontario. This review will ensure that regional governments are working efficiently and effectively to make the best use of taxpayers’ dollars.

The government has appointed Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling as special advisors to meet with the different regions, invite feedback from residents and businesses, and find out what has been working and what might need improvement. They will deliver advice to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing based on their expertise and assessment of the feedback received through the consultation process.

Protecting the Environment and the Economy

Adopting a Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan

A changing climate is creating new challenges for Ontario. The province’s homes, communities, resources and infrastructure are at risk. Also threatened are food security, road access for remote First Nations and the health of ecosystems. This government is taking action to protect Ontario’s environment as well as its citizens and businesses.

Photo of greenspace with text: A made-in-Ontario environment plan - preserving and protecting our environment for future generations

To tackle climate change and other environmental challenges, the government released the Preserving and Protecting Our Environment for Future Generations: A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan in November 2018. This new plan focuses on protecting Ontario’s air, land and water resources, reducing litter and waste, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions while helping communities adapt to a changing climate. It is a balanced and responsible plan that recognizes Ontario’s unique needs and opportunities. In addition, the plan includes robust transparency measures that will ensure that the people of Ontario have real-time information about monitoring, incidents and enforcement activities. It also affirms the government’s commitment to protecting the environment without burdening Ontario households and businesses with ineffective policies, such as a regressive carbon tax.

By ending the cap-and-trade carbon tax, the government has enabled hard-working Ontario individuals and families to save money and businesses to create jobs and remain competitive. To ensure a path forward for balancing emissions reductions and economic growth, the government will focus on smart policy approaches that encourage innovation and reduce regulatory barriers to climate solutions.

Protecting Air Quality

The government is taking steps to protect air quality through strong environmental standards and local air-quality standards. While the province’s air quality has improved significantly, regions of the province continue to experience air-quality challenges that the government will address in partnership with communities. In addition to introducing other measures, such as redesigning the emissions testing program for heavy-duty trucks, the government will make it easier for the people of Ontario to report the pollution that is impacting their lives through an online platform accompanied by an improved complaint response system.

Addressing Climate Change

Ontario has been a leader in the efforts to tackle climate change. Compared with 2005, the province’s total greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 22 per cent — even while the rest of Canada saw emissions increase by three per cent during the same time period. The Province’s proposed target is to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Smart policies included in the new environment plan put this target within reach.

Chart 1.20: Ontario and the Rest of Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions from 2005 to 2016
Accessible description of Chart 1.20

Instead of the job-killing federal carbon tax, the Province would create a $400 million emissions reduction fund. This fund would make it easier for the private sector to implement its best projects and ideas to drive emissions reductions at the lowest cost to taxpayers. It would seek to speed up the deployment of low-carbon solutions and encourage private investment in clean technologies that are commercially viable, and reduce energy costs for ratepayers. This fund could consider investing in cost-effective projects in various sectors, such as transportation, industry, residential, business, and municipal.

Photo of solar panels with text: Emissions reduction fund - growing private investment in clean technology

Reducing emissions is one aspect of this government’s fight against climate change. The effects of a changing climate, such as more frequent extreme weather events, are already underway. To build resilient communities, the government will take steps to develop the information, tools and resources that can help Ontario communities be better prepared for the impacts of climate change.

Launching a Provincial Climate Change Impact Assessment

The government is committed to preparing families and communities for the costs and impacts of climate change, such as more frequent severe weather events and flooding, and to protecting Ontario’s natural environment, communities, businesses and municipalities.

To improve the understanding of how climate change will impact the province, the government plans to launch Ontario’s first-ever climate change impact assessment — a key part of the government’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

The government will assess the best science and information to better understand where the province is vulnerable and understand which regions and economic sectors are more likely to be impacted.

This enhanced understanding will enable the Province, local communities, businesses, Indigenous communities and the public to make planning and investment decisions that are better informed by the likely impacts of a changing climate. This will ensure better long-term management of public and private assets and infrastructure, and reduce costs for governments, businesses and households.

Reducing Emissions

Ontario industries have made great strides in lowering their emissions; however, they are still responsible for 29 per cent of the province’s emissions. The government is currently developing emissions performance standards for industries to achieve further greenhouse gas reductions. These made-in-Ontario standards will consider factors such as trade exposure and competitiveness. Instead of an absolute cap on emissions for the province, the proposed approach would set sector-or facility-level greenhouse gas emission performance standards that industrial facilities are required to meet, and tie emissions to the level of output or production from these facilities. Each industrial facility would be required to demonstrate compliance annually. These standards will be tough but fair, cost-effective and flexible. This approach will be similar to that taken in Saskatchewan. The Province expects the federal government to recognize equivalency for made-in-Ontario emission performance standards and to avoid application of the federal system to Ontario industry.

Encouraging Investment in Clean Technologies

As promised in Preserving and Protecting Our Environment for Future Generations: A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, the government has taken steps to encourage private investments in clean technologies. Through the Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive, the Province is paralleling the federal government in allowing businesses to immediately write off investments made in specified clean energy equipment. This incentive will make investments in clean energy generation and energy conservation equipment more attractive.

See Chapter 1, Section D: Open for Business, Open for Jobs for more details.

Natural gas vehicles have a smaller carbon footprint compared to vehicles powered by diesel, as stated in the government’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. The government will maintain the tax exemption for natural gas used as a transportation fuel. Knowing that the government intends to maintain the tax exemption under the Gasoline Tax Act will provide certainty to businesses as they consider retrofitting, replacing or expanding their fleets of heavy-duty vehicles.

Reducing Waste and Litter

The government recognizes that real environmental leadership does not belong to the social media campaigns of celebrities and activists, and instead rests with real civic-minded action from people right here at home. This is why the government will actively encourage all citizens, but in particular youth, to engage in anti-litter activities that will culminate in Ontario’s first ever provincial day of action to fight litter.

In March 2019, the government launched the Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities: Discussion Paper and is looking at proposed ways to reduce the amount of waste generated and to divert more waste from landfill. Actions such as developing a proposal to ban food waste from landfill and expanding green bin, or similar collection systems, will help in achieving these goals. To reduce plastic waste and limit microplastics that end up in lakes and rivers, the government will work with other provinces, territories and the federal government to develop a plastics strategy.

Increasing Conservation

Conservation of Ontario’s rich biodiversity and natural resources is an important way to mitigate the impact of a changing climate on such areas. The government is improving the resilience of sensitive natural ecosystems, such as wetlands and grassland habitats, through good environmental planning, stewardship and partnerships. The government will work with Indigenous organizations, the forestry industry and communities in supporting sustainable forest management, which can help reduce emissions and increase carbon storage in forests and harvested wood products.

Improving Municipal Wastewater Management and Reporting

As Ontario’s water resources are facing many pressures from climate change, population growth and aging infrastructure, there is a greater need to increase transparency through real-time reporting of sewage overflows from municipal wastewater systems.

The government is looking to increase transparency through real-time monitoring of sewage overflows from municipal wastewater systems into Ontario’s lakes and rivers. It will work with municipalities to ensure that proper monitoring occurs and that the public is aware of the overflow incidents. The government is also looking into updating policies related to municipal wastewater and stormwater to make them easier to understand.

Protecting Species at Risk

Ontario is home to more than 30,000 species of plants, insects, fish and wildlife. The Endangered Species Act, 2007 provides for the protection of species and their habitats that are at risk of disappearing from Ontario. In January 2019, the government initiated a review of the Act followed by a consultation process inviting the public and key stakeholders to provide their input for a discussion paper on how the province can achieve positive outcomes for species at risk while reducing the regulatory burden and increasing efficiencies. The focus of the review includes:

  • Enhancing the government’s ability to enforce regulations under the Endangered Species Act, 2007;
  • Ensuring that species assessments for the Species at Risk in Ontario List are based on current science;
  • Streamlining related approvals and processes;
  • Maintaining effective government oversight; and
  • Making the process for listing species on the Species at Risk in Ontario Listmore transparent.

Protecting the Great Lakes

While Ontario’s lakes, waterways and groundwater are an important foundation of the province’s economic prosperity and well-being, these water resources are facing many pressures — population growth, rapid urban development, aging infrastructure and invasive species — that are contributing to pollution and loss of natural heritage. Some of the key action areas in the Preserving and Protecting Our Environment for Future Generations: A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan focusing on protecting these water resources include:

  • Continuing to work to restore and protect the Great Lakes;
  • Exploring the renegotiation of a new Canada-Ontario Agreement;
  • Continuing to protect and identify vulnerable waterways and inland waters;
  • Ensuring sustainable water use and water security for future generations;
  • Helping people to conserve water and save money; and
  • Improving municipal wastewater and stormwater management and reporting.

Ontario will explore opportunities to work with the federal government to protect water quality and ecosystems of the Great Lakes.

Chart Descriptions

Chart 1.11: Additional Support for Families

This bar chart shows three examples of the additional support families would get in 2019 from the proposed Ontario CARE tax credit on top of the federal and Ontario Personal Income Tax relief they receive from the existing Child Care Expense Deduction.

Left section: A single parent (Daniel) with a fourteen-year-old child, annual earnings of $40,000, and eligible child care expenses of $1,000 for the year would get $150 in federal tax relief and $100 in Ontario tax relief from the deduction and an extra $590 from the proposed Ontario CARE tax credit.

Middle section: A couple (Ashley and Alex) with a two-year-old child, annual earnings of $50,000 and $45,000 respectively, and eligible child care expenses of $8,000 would get $1,200 in federal tax relief and $540 in Ontario tax relief from the deduction and an extra $2,480 from the proposed Ontario CARE tax credit.

Right section: A couple (Samira and Sergei) with two children (ages five and eight), annual earnings of $70,000 and $50,000 respectively, and eligible child care expenses of $13,000 would get $2,075 in federal tax relief and $1,145 in Ontario tax relief from the deduction and an extra $2,210 from the proposed Ontario CARE tax credit.

Note: Tax relief from the Child Care Expense Deduction is for 2019 and, for Ontario Personal Income Tax, includes relief from the Ontario Health Premium.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance.

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Chart 1.12: Filling the Gap in Child Care Support

This chart shows the average support provided, as a percentage of eligible child care expenses, by federal and provincial Personal Income Tax relief through the Child Care Expense Deduction and the proposed Ontario CARE tax credit.

The chart shows that the average federal and Ontario tax relief provided by the deduction (bottom grey areas) provide relatively little benefit for lower-income families, and increases with family income as a percentage of eligible child care expenses. To fill this gap, the chart shows the additional support that the proposed Ontario CARE tax credit (upper dark blue area with yellow text spelling “CARE”) would provide, bringing the average overall relief up to about 75 per cent of eligible child care expenses for families with incomes of up to around $60,000. After this point, the overall support provided by the proposed tax credit and the deduction decreases until family income reaches $150,000, after which the tax credit would be reduced to zero and families could only benefit from the tax relief provided by the deduction.

Note: Each component represents 2019 estimates of average amounts as a percentage of eligible child care expenses.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance.

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Chart 1.13: Jenny and George

This figure provides an example of how the government is putting more money in people’s pockets. The government is delivering immediate pocketbook relief to the people of Ontario through the Low-income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit and cancellation of the cap-and-trade carbon tax.

To illustrate the impact, imagine a couple, Jenny and George, who work full-time and have one child. They take home a combined family income of $62,000 annually. The LIFT Credit would put $1,250 a year back in their pockets, and the cancellation of the cap-and-trade carbon tax would save them an estimated additional $280 a year — for total savings of $1,530 in 2019. This would represent significant relief for this family.

Notes: This example is for illustrative purposes. The LIFT Credit amount is based on Personal Income Tax filer data and is representative of actual families who would receive the LIFT Credit, and whose main characteristics include: first-earner employment income of $29,000 and other income of $3,500, second-earner employment income of $29,500, and no child care expenses. Average savings from cancelling the cap-and-trade carbon tax are based on Statistics Canada survey data. Impacts on individual households would vary depending on many factors, such as consumption patterns. Estimates include direct and indirect savings and additional savings from the Harmonized Sales Tax.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance.

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Chart 1.14: Alice, Raymond, Avery and Jack

This bar chart illustrates savings and costs in 2019 for a couple, Alice and Raymond, who work full-time and have two children, Avery and Jack, ages two and eight, respectively. The parents have a combined family income of $100,000 annually, and have $13,000 in eligible child care expenses in 2019. Alice and Raymond would save $3,733 in 2019 through the following initiatives: savings from cancelling the cap-and-trade carbon tax ($288), the CARE tax credit ($3,510) and the federal reduction in EI premiums ($31) as well as costs from the federal CPP contribution increase (-$96). Alice and Raymond would have $3,798 in Ontario savings, minus $65 in net federal costs for an overall net relief of $3,733.

Notes: This example is for illustrative purposes. Alice and Raymond have employment income of $55,000 and $45,000, respectively, eligible child care expenses of $13,000, and no other income or deductions. Estimated savings from cancelling the cap-and-trade carbon tax is based on fuel consumption of 2,200 litres of gasoline (represents about 19,000 kilometres for a minivan with an average fuel efficiency of 11.4 litres/100 kilometres) and 2,200 cubic metres of natural gas (approximate volume to heat a 1,500 square foot dwelling) in 2019. Actual impacts on a particular household would vary depending on their consumption of these fuels, and other spending patterns. The savings from cancelling the cap-and-trade carbon tax include the direct savings on fuel spending, indirect savings from spending on other goods and services, and the additional savings of the Harmonized Sales Tax. Impacts for the federal reduction in EI premiums and federal CPP contribution increase are net of any corresponding impacts to personal income tax and income-based benefits delivered through the tax system. 

Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance.

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Chart 1.15: Reducing the Estate Administration Tax Burden

This bar chart compares the Estate Administration Tax that estate representatives would be required to pay on behalf of taxable estates of three different values, calculated before and after the proposed tax cut.

Left section: Before the proposed tax cut, Jesse, the representative for a taxable estate valued at $35,000, would be required to pay $175 in Estate Administration Tax on behalf of the estate. After the proposed tax cut, Jesse would pay $0 — a 100 per cent Estate Administration Tax cut.

Middle section: Before the proposed tax cut, Issa, the representative for a taxable estate valued at $50,000, would be required to pay $250 in Estate Administration Tax on behalf of the estate. After the proposed tax cut, Issa would pay $0 — a 100 per cent Estate Administration Tax cut.

Right section: Before the proposed tax cut, Dillon, the representative for a taxable estate valued at $100,000, would be required to pay $1,000 in Estate Administration Tax on behalf of the estate. After the proposed tax cut, Dillon would pay $750 — a 25 per cent Estate Administration Tax cut.

Note: Assumes the estates are taxable. The names indicate estate representatives.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance.

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Chart 1.16: Examples of Hospital Projects in Planning

This map provides examples of health infrastructure projects in planning across Ontario.

North: Weeneebayko Area Hospital Authority – New Replacement Hospital involves construction of a new replacement hospital building.
Geraldton District Hospital – Emergency Department Redevelopment, involves renovation and modernization of the department.

East: The Ottawa Hospital – Civic Campus Redevelopment will expand hospital services, and replace aging infrastructure. Quinte Health Care Corporation – Planning for Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Redevelopment is receiving planning funding for a new replacement hospital in Picton.

Central: The Hospital for Sick Children – Project Horizon involves construction of a new Patient Care Centre, renovations and infrastructure improvements in Toronto. Lakeridge Health (Hospital Redevelopment and Bowmanville Site Redevelopment) involves renewal and expansion of various hospital facilities and services. Stevenson Memorial Hospital – Planning for Hospital Redevelopment is receiving planning funding for an addition to the existing facility in Alliston. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre – Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Capacity: construction of a new wing in Toronto to increase and expand space for ambulatory and inpatient services to serve as a provincial resource for patients.

Southwest: Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre – Planning for Bed Expansion is receiving planning funding for the rehabilitation bed expansion. Grey Bruce Health Services – Markdale Hospital involves construction of a new replacement building to include 24/7 emergency department and outpatient services. Chatham-Kent Health Alliance – Planning for Wallaceburg Site Capital Redevelopment is receiving planning funding for redevelopment of the Wallaceburg site to improve emergency services and outpatient care. Hamilton Health Sciences - West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Redevelopment is receiving planning funding for construction of a replacement hospital on the same site.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance.

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Chart 1.17: Examples of Recently Approved School Projects

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

  • North: Atikokan Public Elementary and Secondary School in Atikokan will expand to serve 354 new students and add 49 new child care spaces.
  • East: The new école élémentaire catholique Riverside Sud II in Ottawa will serve 412 students and include 49 new child care spaces. Eastside Public Secondary School in Belleville will expand to serve 189 more students.
  • Central: The new Cornell Four Public Elementary School in Markham will support 638 students and will include 39 new child care spaces. The new Block 12-2 Public Elementary School in Vaughan will serve 638 students and will include 39 new child care spaces. The new Oakville NE 2 Public Elementary School in Oakville will support 776 students and will include 88 new child care spaces. The école secondaire catholique Sainte-Trinité in Oakville will expand to serve an additional 180 students. St. Cornelius Catholic Elementary School in Caledon will expand to accommodate 184 more students.
  • Southwest: St. Anthony Catholic Elementary School in Kincardine will expand to support an additional 190 students and add 78 new child care spaces. Masonville Public Elementary School in London will expand to serve 253 more students. St. Bernadette Catholic Elementary School in London will expand to support 69 more students.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance.

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Chart 1.18: RBC Housing Affordability Measures — Toronto Area

The line chart shows the RBC Housing Affordability Measures for the Toronto area for single-detached homes, condo apartments and an aggregate for all categories between the first quarter of 1986 and the third quarter of 2018. The RBC measures show ownership costs as a per cent of median household income. The long-term average for the aggregate measure is also shown. The chart shows that from the second quarter of 2009 until the third quarter of 2018, all three measures have generally been rising.

Throughout the period shown in the chart, the single-detached home measure is the highest among the three measures shown while the condo apartment measure is the lowest. The highest value of the single-detached home measure was 92.6 recorded in the third quarter of 2017. The lowest value of the single-detached home measure was 42.7 recorded in the second quarter of 1986. The highest value of the condo apartment measure was 48.0 recorded in the second quarter of 1990. The lowest value of the condo apartment measure was 22.8 recorded in the fourth quarter of 1996. The highest value of the aggregate measure was 76.2 recorded in the third quarter of 2017. The lowest value of the aggregate measure was 38.1 recorded in the fourth quarter of 1996.

The RBC Housing Aggregate Affordability Measure was 75.3 in the third quarter of 2018. This compares to the long-term average (between the first quarter of 1985 and the third quarter of 2018) of 50.1. The single-detached RBC Housing Affordability Measure was 90.4 in the third quarter of 2018 while the condo apartment RBC Housing Affordability Measure was 47.0.

Source: RBC Economic Research.

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Chart 1.19: Ontario Average Rent Growth Has Accelerated in Recent Years

The bar chart shows annual growth in average rent and average weekly earnings in Ontario from 2010 to 2018. Average rent increased 1.8 per cent in 2010, 1.8 per cent in 2011, 2.8 per cent in 2012, 2.7 per cent in 2013, 2.1 per cent in 2014, 3.0 per cent in 2015, 3.0 per cent in 2016, 3.8 per cent in 2017 and 4.8 per cent in 2018.

Average weekly earnings increased 3.8 per cent in 2010, 1.4 per cent in 2011, 1.4 per cent in 2012, 1.5 per cent in 2013, 2.0 per cent in 2014, 2.6 per cent in 2015, 1.1 per cent in 2016, 1.9 per cent in 2017 and 2.9 per cent in 2018.

Sources: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Statistics Canada and Ontario Ministry of Finance.

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Chart 1.20: Ontario and the Rest of Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions from 2005 to 2016

Line graph showing Ontario and the Rest of Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions from 2005 to 2016.

Y-axis represents the GHG Emissions Index (relative to 2005 level), and ranges from 0.70 to 1.10.

X-axis represents the year.

All data provided is approximate.

Ontario data line is shown starting at 1.00 in 2005, decreasing to 0.80 in 2009, increasing to 0.85 in 2010, and then steadily decreasing to finish at 0.77 in 2016.
Rest of Canada data line is shown starting at 1.00 in 2005, increasing to 1.04 in 2007, decreasing to 0.97 in 2009, increasing to 1.045 in 2013, and then decreasing to finish at 1.03 in 2016.

Source: Environmental Climate Change (2018) National Inventory Report 1990–2016: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada.

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  • [1] Ontario Ministry of Finance estimate. For examples of related studies, see Kim, J. and Laurin, A., “Mothers at Work. The Fiscal Implications of the Proposed Ontario Childcare Rebate,” (2019), E-Brief, Toronto: C.D. Howe Institute. January and references cited.
  • [2] Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. “Measuring up: Canadian Results of the OECD PISA Study.” (2015)
  • [3] Wright, Craig and Hogue, Robert, “Housing Trends and Affordability,” RBC Economic Research, December 2018.
  • [4] Vacancy rate and average rent growth are based on the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation Rental Market Survey. These estimates refer to the primary rental market, which consists of units in privately initiated, purpose-built rental structures of three units or more. Data observations refer to October of a given year.
Updated: April 11, 2019
Published: April 11, 2019