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- Building Smarter Government
- Exploring Non-Tax Revenue Generation
- Moving Government Services into the 21st Century
- Addressing the Underground Economy
- Opening the Market for Cannabis Retail
- Increasing Choice and Convenience for Consumers
- Strengthening the Relationship with Municipalities
- Working Together to Strengthen the Federal–Provincial Relationship
- Improving Services and Accountability
The government has a plan to make its programs and services smarter by finding ways to spend more efficiently while ensuring value for every taxpayer dollar. This plan changes the culture of government, focuses on outcomes and improves the customer experience by delivering simpler, faster, and more accessible in-person and digital services today and in the future.
Inefficient and outdated methods mean government cannot easily respond to the needs of citizens in a timely and cost-effective way.
That is why Ontario has a plan to bring the government into the 21st century. When it comes to being more innovative and efficient, the government is examining its own operations and striving to become a leader in digital, agile and lean operations. It is implementing smart initiatives that will reduce costs, incorporate modern technology, and ensure the government services people rely on every day are delivered where and when they need them.
The government is looking at every opportunity to restore sustainability to Ontario’s finances including increasing revenue by maximizing the financial performance of government assets and addressing the underground economy.
The government is also working towards strengthening partnerships with municipalities to improve accountability and transparency in program delivery and to protect core public services. In order to prioritize the needs of local communities, the government is engaging with experts and the public to strengthen communities across the province.
Building Smarter Government
Working smarter, bringing the language of business into the business of government and bringing government into the 21st century are important components of the government’s plan to build Ontario together. Just as private enterprise constantly re-evaluates its standards and best practices, government should adapt, evolve and always strive to deliver people with the best services possible. EY Canada’s 2018 line-by-line review of Ontario government expenditures, Managing Transformation – A Modernization Action Plan for Ontario, along with the Planning for Prosperity and Big Bold Ideas consultations, helped lay a foundation to modernize government and better meet the needs of the people of Ontario.
Planning for Efficiency and Modernization
The government remains focused on:
- Implementing long-term ministry plans to make government more efficient and effective to ensure government spending is sustainable and delivers the best value;
- Identifying additional opportunities to drive further modernization across government; and
- Demonstrating meaningful improvements to the public programs and services the people of Ontario and businesses rely on, including through modern technological resources and administrative approaches.
The process will be informed by a dedicated ongoing review of all programs in order to provide the evidence base for further program modernization, efficiencies and effectiveness.
A Smarter Government Task Force has been assembled to provide central oversight of the implementation of modernization plans and to ensure they achieve anticipated outcomes.
Curbing Unnecessary Spending
As announced on August 29, 2019, Ontario's government saved taxpayers $153 million in 2018–19 through expenditure management, discretionary spending controls and targeted measures to curb “March Madness” spending, which governments sometimes see at the end of the fiscal year as ministries attempt to spend the remainder of their budgets. Curbing unnecessary spending continues to be a priority for the government as it works to restore sustainability to the Province’s finances.
Making Public Sector Compensation Fair, Reasonable and Sustainable
Over the past year, the government has taken a fair and reasonable approach to managing compensation and upholding its commitment to protecting critical front-line public services while continuing to seek opportunities for greater oversight of key areas within the provincial public sector.
As part of this process, the government undertook consultations in the spring with employers and bargaining agents, collectively representing more than one million employees across the provincial public sector. These consultations focused on how compensation growth within the broader public sector (BPS) can be managed in a way that is reasonable and sustainable. The government continues to listen to its bargaining agent and service delivery partners, and the feedback received through this process has informed the steps the government is currently taking to ensure that compensation is managed in a fair, reasonable and sustainable manner.
Following the six weeks of good-faith consultations, the government introduced Bill 124, the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019. The Act would enable the government to manage compensation growth in a way that allows for reasonable wage increases while also respecting taxpayers and the services they rely on. This is a fair, consistent and time-limited approach that would set requirements that could allow for up to one per cent increases to salary and overall compensation for unionized and non-unionized employees in the Ontario public sector.
Managing Compensation Growth and Centralizing Benefits Pooling
Additionally, through the spring consultations, the government heard interest from employers and bargaining agents that exploring centralized benefits pooling would be a means of managing benefits administration costs. Enabling a pooling arrangement with voluntary entry terms could enable participants to access economies of scale advantages, cost savings and administrative efficiencies of up to $115 million. Consultations with partners will further explore stakeholder interests, examine a common understanding of anticipated outcomes, and establish a governance framework as well as an implementation strategy.
Controlling Public Sector Leadership Compensation
As announced in the 2019 Budget, the government is moving forward with an approach to public sector leadership compensation, which prohibits any automatic adjustments in pay. Under this approach, any compensation adjustments will be controlled and tied to performance and will only be provided to leaders who demonstrate their role in achieving the bold outcomes that the Province needs.
In keeping with these principles, the government has consulted key partners with an aim to setting controls on leadership compensation and sector-specific priorities that all leaders must work towards. The government plans to issue a new framework for all designated employers under the Broader Public Sector Executive Compensation Act, 2014 by the end of the year.
Getting Value for Each Tax Dollar: Smart Initiatives
Recognizing the many opportunities to improve government, the Province has launched a number of transformational initiatives to build a smarter government. These Smart Initiatives will streamline services, create efficiencies and ultimately ensure publicly funded programs are making a difference in the areas that matter most.
In some cases, this will result in cost savings. In other cases, this will mean that government can do more with the same resources.
Unleashing Government’s Purchasing Power
The government is making it easier and more efficient to do business with the public sector, as well as reducing costs to protect the critical programs the people of Ontario rely on every day. By working collaboratively with stakeholders to find innovative solutions that will unlock savings, the government is ensuring the people of Ontario get the best value for each public dollar spent.
Ontario’s current procurement landscape is largely decentralized for the Ontario Public Service (OPS) and broader public sector. Building a modern, centralized procurement system is projected to generate savings of $1 billion annually and make it easier for companies of all sizes to do business with the Province.
For instance, government agencies and other public sector bodies currently purchase IT hardware, such as desktop and laptop devices, on their own or by using sector-specific purchasing agreements. Under a new integrated supply chain, these organizations would leverage public sector-wide purchasing agreements that meet their needs, combine their collective purchasing power and drive the greatest value to support delivery of their programs and services.
The government is using its public-sector buying power to drive efficiencies and support innovation for a more streamlined and collaborative system — one that works simpler, faster and better.
Improving Infrastructure Procurement
The government is also reviewing how it manages and procures the construction of capital assets to seek out best practices and break down silos among government ministries and agencies. This review of government infrastructure planning and procurement functions is identifying opportunities to drive process efficiencies and make smarter infrastructure investment decisions to ensure better use of taxpayer dollars.
Streamlining How the Government Funds Programs and Services
The government is modernizing the way it funds programs and services across sectors by consolidating and streamlining transfer payments and creating more efficient processes.
Approximately 90 per cent of all government program spending is provided through transfer payments. This funding supports vital programs used by the people of Ontario, including health care, education and social services. Currently, the funding is administered through many different systems and processes which results in duplicated effort and wasted time.
The government is working smarter to reduce the complexity and administrative burden of transfer payment management by consolidating transfer payments in multiple sectors, including health care, social services and education. One way the government is streamlining transfer payment management is by increasing the use of a central transfer payment administration system, Transfer Payment Ontario. More than 320 programs have moved to Transfer Payment Ontario. Increasing this number will improve efficiency by eliminating the need for manual contract administration and will support better and improved data collection to inform evidence-based decision-making.
Moving to a centralized transfer payment system will reduce administrative costs, increase value for money, and enhance program outcomes and the client experience by allowing ministries and transfer payment partners to spend less time on inefficient administration and more time on providing services to the people of Ontario.
Delivering Simpler, Faster and Better Services
The government is putting people first in everything it does by adopting new digital practices and technologies that will deliver simpler, faster and better services to the people of Ontario. To that end, the government is delivering on its promise to modernize outdated processes and improve its digital platforms to ensure the people of Ontario can connect with government and access the services they want, when they want, where they want. For example, the government is focused on providing a simpler, more secure and seamless online experience for popular transactions such as renewing a driver’s licence or getting a health card.
Repurposing Government Property
The government is delivering on its commitment to implement a more efficient process to sell buildings and properties that are no longer needed to deliver programs. The sale of surplus government property generates revenue and saves taxpayers’ dollars by reducing liabilities and ongoing maintenance costs on vacant properties. It is also helping to put properties back into productive use in local communities across the province by providing opportunities for economic development and job creation. As of the end of September 2019, 35 properties have been sold, generating net revenue of $71.6 million.
Making Government Agencies More Efficient
As part of the government’s commitment to restore accountability and trust, and broader efforts to ensure services are delivered in the most efficient and effective ways possible, the government assembled an Agency Review Task Force in November 2018 to lead a comprehensive review of the more than 190 Provincial agencies. The task force members included MPP Will Bouma, MPP Stan Cho, MPP Daisy Wai, MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos, and MPP Billy Pang.
A comprehensive review of agencies has not been done since 2010. This review is a critical component of the government’s plan to build smarter government. In just one year, the task force completed its review of all Provincial agencies and has made recommendations, including the following, that, when implemented, would:
- Reduce the number of provincial agencies by dissolving those that have been inactive over a long period of time, such as the Board of Negotiation which has not received an application in over 20 years and overlaps with alternative dispute resolution mechanisms;
- Result in improvements in 20 per cent of all agencies in performance reporting to ensure measurable outcomes of the services and programs they deliver;
- Strengthen governance in 52 per cent of all agencies to ensure agency board appointees have the skills and expertise needed to carry out the agency’s mandate; and
- Achieve administrative efficiencies in 47 per cent of all agencies by using digital processes and back-office integrations to modernize and improve service delivery.
Achieving Better Value from Voice Services
Ontario is making significant progress on earlier commitments to eliminate thousands of redundant and unused landlines. The government is realizing better value from its existing voice service contracts in part by providing no more than one phone — either a mobile phone or landline to Ontario Public Service (OPS) staff. Voicemail services on landlines are also being streamlined, by restricting them to those who need them as a requirement of their job.
Thousands of boardroom and lobby phones that no longer serve business needs are also being cancelled. By leveraging existing mobile phone contracts to obtain free, modern replacement devices, it is possible to decommission legacy mobile phone infrastructure. These initiatives are expected to save up to $6.4 million annually.
Enhancing Accountability and Value for Money
To improve accountability and transparency, the Audit and Accountability Committee (AAC) was launched in December 2018 in order to ensure value for every taxpayer dollar spent. The AAC provides input and direction to ensure that the delivery of internal audit services addresses critical government priorities and risks. In April 2019, the Ontario Internal Audit Committee (OIAC) was established as a Provincial Advisory Agency reporting to the President of the Treasury Board with the purpose of advising and making recommendations to the Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet. This includes continuing to deliver and execute on the OPS-wide risk-based internal audit plan.
Exploring Non-Tax Revenue Generation
Ontario is making every dollar count to help ensure that critical public services, such as health care and education, are fiscally sustainable over the long term. As part of this commitment, the Province has begun to explore opportunities to maximize the ongoing financial performance of government assets through non-tax revenue generation, for example by exploring advertising and naming rights opportunities at Metrolinx and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and with digital billboard opportunities.
Maximizing ongoing financial performance of government assets aligns with the recommendations of EY Canada’s 2018 report following its line-by-line review of government spending.
The government has established a Value Creation Task Force to identify and review innovative opportunities to generate recurring non-tax revenues. These will help support government priorities including balancing the budget, and reducing the debt burden. The task force’s mandate excludes any one-time revenue generation.
Moving Government Services into the 21st Century
The government is keeping its commitment to the people of Ontario by moving ahead with its plan to bring government services into the 21st century. In the 2019 Budget, the government amended 15 acts and five regulations to remove barriers to digital communications, data sharing, and digital service design. The government also introduced the Simpler, Faster, Better Services Act, 2019, the first of its kind in Canada, to focus on improving digital and data services in the province, and create the role of a Chief Digital and Data Officer. The government is proposing to fix seven more acts that would better deliver digital services and promote data sharing to help the government make the right decisions at the right time. Modernizing government processes will make services easier, more efficient, and cheaper to deliver, creating long-term savings for the benefit of taxpayers.
Making government work better for people in the digital age also means giving people a say in how Ontario’s data policy is shaped. This is why the government announced the Minister of Government and Consumer Services’ Digital and Data Task Force, a group of experts appointed to help inform Ontario’s Digital and Data Action Plan, an expanded vision of the data strategy. But the government is not only relying on experts to shape the way forward; it is listening to the people. Beginning in spring 2019, the government launched an initial survey of citizens and began consulting with the public through a series of roundtables across Ontario, online through EngageON, and with the release of three discussion documents. Together with the advice of the Task Force, the results of this consultation will shape the way forward and build a government that is better able to meet the expectations of Ontario taxpayers.
The government’s Digital and Data Action Plan also includes improving government processes and digital platforms by making the high-volume services that are already online easier to use, as well as making more services available online. Starting with ServiceOntario’s top 10 transactions, such as driver’s licence renewals, the government is investing $9 million over five years to fix outdated government processes. This may shift approximately 10 million in-person transactions to digital channels.
These improvements will ensure that the people of Ontario who interact with these services can do so quickly and easily. By applying the new Digital Service Standard to these services, the government will create a consistent experience across multiple platforms. Giving people the option to apply for, or renew, driver and vehicle products digitally makes good sense, however the government recognizes that digital does not work for everyone. Providing better and quicker access to online services will support more efficient services for people who choose to access in-person or phone-based service options.
Safeguarding Digital Services
As part of the government’s efforts to address the challenges faced by broader public sector agencies and service delivery partners, Ontario is establishing a Cyber Security Centre of Excellence for the broader public sector. The Centre of Excellence will support ministries and broader public sector service delivery partners to improve digital resilience through education and awareness activities, and knowledge sharing. The government’s digital plan will also be underpinned by secure, trustworthy infrastructure. Ontario’s investment in cyber security has not kept pace with change, which is why, in July 2019, the government approved a Cyber Security Strategy. Additionally, the Province plans to create a broader public sector (BPS) cybersecurity task force to promote collaboration and to help identify cybersecurity concerns across the BPS.
As recommended in EY Canada’s 2018 line-by-line review, this centre will help to safeguard the substantial investments Ontario is making in digital services, automation and shared service models that support all functions across the OPS and broader public sector.
Addressing the Underground Economy
The competitiveness of law-abiding businesses is hurt by businesses and employees who do not report income in order to evade taxes and create an unfair advantage for themselves. The total value of underground economic activity in Ontario is estimated at almost $20 billion, resulting in a multi-billion dollar annual loss in revenue that could otherwise support building Ontario for the future.
This lost tax revenue also constrains the government’s ongoing work to restore sustainability to Ontario’s finances.
The government is looking at ways to address the underground economy that will not add burdensome requirements to businesses. For example, through advanced data analytics, Provincial enforcement efforts could better focus on firms that ignore their obligations. At the same time, better analysis could also help the government to lower the burden for businesses that comply with their responsibilities. The government will also examine the use of advanced technology solutions that can be used to address sophisticated tax evasion techniques, such as electronic sales suppression (when sales transactions are selectively deleted or modified in point-of-sale systems and business accounting systems, leaving no trace of the original transaction).
Addressing Unregulated Tobacco
Building on the government’s review of tobacco tax regulation and enforcement announced in 2018, the Ministry of Finance will consult public health stakeholders, industry and retail associations, as well as First Nation partners, on unregulated tobacco. This means working closely on common goals: protecting youth, promoting community safety, and creating opportunities for economic development and diversification. These consultations present an opportunity to explore the link between government policy, the regulation of tobacco and vaping products, and the impact of these on smoking cessation and youth addiction to nicotine.
Real progress in resolving challenges requires the involvement not only of the provincial government, but the federal government and First Nations. Ontario is committed to consulting with First Nations and working with industry, public health stakeholders, and retail associations, to determine how unregulated tobacco can be addressed to improve the lives of the people of Ontario. The government will also continue to engage interested First Nation communities and organizations on tobacco regulation on-reserve.
Combatting Money Laundering
The Province is committed to combatting money laundering. The Province works to prevent business entities from being used to evade tax, launder money or finance criminal activities through various actions including:
- Proactively assisting the Canada Revenue Agency in addressing non-compliance in the real estate sector;
- Under the existing rules in the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, 2006 prohibiting mortgage brokerages from engaging in any activity that facilitates dishonesty, fraud, crime or illegal conduct;
- Generally requiring share issuances to be in registered form under the Business Corporations Act; and
- Collecting certain beneficial ownership information under the Land Transfer Tax Act.
The Province is evaluating further measures to combat money laundering. At the June 2019 Finance Ministers’ meeting, the Province agreed with the federal government as well as other provinces and territories to cooperate on initiating consultations to make beneficial ownership information more transparent. The Province’s goal is to target criminals that use corporations to hide or launder money, without deterring the majority of good corporate citizens from conducting their regular business activities.
Opening the Market for Cannabis Retail
The Ontario government is taking a responsible approach to opening cannabis stores across the province, allowing private-sector businesses to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market. The government is also working with First Nation communities in relation to the process for authorizing retail stores in their communities. The government remains committed to moving to an open allocation of cannabis retail store licences where the number of stores is limited only by market demand.
The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) is engaging with federally licensed cannabis producers and authorized retail stores to get their perspectives on increasing private‑sector participation in the delivery of recreational cannabis to stores across Ontario. This work will help inform the government’s approach to the ongoing development of the provincial retail and distribution system.
In preparation for the move to an open allocation of retail store licences, the government is also proposing to amend legislation to facilitate the establishment of retail stores by licensed producers related to their production sites, which would further increase consumer access to legal retail stores.
The government is also proposing to amend legislation to allow authorized retail stores to sell cannabis products online or over the phone for pick-up by the consumer in-store, which is known as click-and-collect. This would help ensure consumers’ preferred cannabis products are available and would decrease wait times at retail stores.
Increasing Choice and Convenience for Consumers
As announced last fall, a comprehensive review of the beverage alcohol sector is underway aimed at increasing choice and convenience in the sale of beverage alcohol and creating more opportunities for businesses to compete.
As part of this initiative, the government announced that it would allow 87 more grocery stores across the province to sell beer, wine and cider, bringing the total number of grocery authorizations to 450. These additional grocery stores began selling alcohol in September 2019. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is also expanding its agency store program, with up to 200 new convenience outlets expected to open by spring 2020 across the province.
The government is also introducing legislation which, if passed, would modernize the legal framework for the sale, service and delivery of beverage alcohol. Ontario’s liquor legislation has not been comprehensively updated in over 40 years. If approved, these proposed changes would make it easier for businesses and consumers to understand the rules and would lay the legislative groundwork for the expansion of wine and beer into corner stores and more grocery and big‑box stores.
For example, the proposed changes would clearly separate the operational function of the LCBO and the regulatory function of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), making it easier for businesses and consumers to know who is responsible for enforcing the rules. In addition, the different categories of licences would be clarified so they are easier to understand, such as a licence to operate a retail store and a licence to deliver liquor. This is just another step in the government’s comprehensive review of the beverage alcohol sector.
The government also committed to reviewing the tax regime for beverage alcohol and is proposing legislation that, if passed, would pause the upcoming wine tax increases and would permit the government to pause upcoming beer tax increases as the beverage alcohol review continues.
Strengthening the Relationship with Municipalities
Municipalities are critical partners in delivering services to the people of Ontario, and the Province is working to ensure that the transformation of programs and services is informed by their advice and daily realities.
The Province is providing municipalities with the tools and supports they require to have more flexibility with their budgets, to find savings, drive efficiencies and modernize service delivery.
The government established the Audit and Accountability Fund earlier this year. All eligible municipalities have taken up the funding offered for service delivery and line-by-line reviews. The reviews are supported by an $8.15 million investment to help school boards and large municipalities protect core public services for future generations. Building on its early success, the government is extending funding for these 39 large urban municipalities by giving them access to up to $6 million annually through 2022–23 so they can continue to find efficiencies while delivering critical services for the people of Ontario.
Ontario has also set up the Municipal Modernization Fund, which has already provided $200 million to help 405 small and rural municipalities achieve efficiencies and plan for their future through investments in projects, such as service delivery reviews, development of shared services agreements, information technology solutions and capital investments. The government is also extending the Municipal Modernization Program as an application-based program so the province’s 405 small and rural municipalities will have access to an additional $125 million through 2022–23 to assist them in finding and implementing efficiencies in service delivery.
In order to deliver services in a smarter and more efficient way, the government is also launching two additional initiatives: consultations for the potential alignment of the municipal and provincial fiscal years, and proposing legislative amendments to combine the provincial and municipal voters lists to reduce errors and make voting easier for the people of Ontario.
The government is listening to its municipal partners. In response to concerns about changes to cost-sharing arrangements, the Province invested in priority areas like land ambulance, public health and child care services for the 2019 municipal budget year. It has also introduced measures to mitigate the impact of changes to public health and child care in 2020.
Moreover, the government is increasing funding for land ambulance services by an average of nearly four per cent this year.
Supporting Municipalities through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund
The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) is the Province’s main general assistance grant to municipalities.
The government is listening to municipalities and is maintaining the current structure of the OMPF for 2020. It also understands that municipalities need information early to allow time to develop their budgets and to plan. This is why the government announced 2020 OMPF municipal allocations on October 24, 2019 — the earliest that program allocations have ever been announced.
The government will continue to work with municipalities on the OMPF. Consistent with the government’s commitment to provide municipalities with notice of any changes, details regarding the 2021 OMPF will be communicated well in advance of the start of the municipal budget year.
Supporting Municipal Partners’ Transportation Priorities
The Province is making strategic investments to support local transportation priorities.
The government of Ontario will make contributions towards transit projects under the Public Transit stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), totalling approximately $7 billion. See Chapter 1, Section D: A Plan to Build Ontario Together by Connecting People to Places for more details.
On September 14, 2019, the City of Ottawa launched Stage 1 of the Confederation Line LRT project, supported by a provincial contribution of up to $600 million. The Province continues to support the City of Ottawa’s light rail transit plans through an additional commitment of up to $1.2 billion towards Stage 2, which will build on the Trillium Line (O-Train) and the Confederation Line by adding 44 kilometres of new rail and 24 new stations, extending the LRT network to the east, west and south, including a link to the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.
Additionally, the Province is investing up to $43 million to support the Region of Waterloo’s King‑Victoria Transit Hub. The hub in downtown Kitchener will allow transit commuters to seamlessly connect to LRT lines in Waterloo Region, GO rail and bus services, Via Rail services and local and intercommunity bus services.
In 2019–20, 23 municipalities will receive $30 million in provincial funding through the Connecting Links program, which helps municipalities repair roads and bridges, connecting two ends of a provincial highway through a community or to a border crossing. Municipalities will benefit from this investment, which will help improve road safety and ensure Ontario is open for business and open for jobs.
As committed to in the 019 Budget, the Province has begun to consult with municipal transit providers to review the Gas Tax program to identify how it can be delivered more effectively.
Investing in Municipalities
In addition to the initiatives described above, municipalities will also benefit from a range of initiatives detailed in other sections of this document.
These include other provincial investments in infrastructure, such as:
- Extending broadband to unserved and underserved communities (see Chapter 1, Section D: A Plan to Build Ontario Together by Connecting People to Places for more details); and
- Investments through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) (see Chapter 1, Section D: A Plan to Build Ontario Together by Connecting People to Places for more details).
Additional initiatives that will benefit municipalities outlined in this document include:
- The Ontario Regional Immigration Pilot (see Chapter 1, Section B: A Plan to Build Ontario Together by Preparing People for Jobs for more details);
- Improvements to recycling and tackling waste (see Chapter 1, Section E: A Plan to Build Ontario Together by Building Healthier and Safer Communities for more details);
- Support for communities in their fight against guns and gangs (see Chapter 1, Section E: A Plan to Build Ontario Together by Building Healthier and Safer Communities for more details);
- The Regional Development Program, which is intended to ensure all parts of the province share in economic prosperity (see Chapter 1, Section C: A Plan to Build Ontario Together by Creating a More Competitive Business Environment for more details);
- The Province’s commitment to listening to rural Ontario (see Chapter 1, Section C: A Plan to Build Ontario Together by Creating a More Competitive Business Environment for more details); and
- Transforming Ontario’s employment services (see Chapter 1, Section B: A Plan to Build Ontario Together by Preparing People for Jobs for more details).
Working Together to Strengthen the Federal–Provincial Relationship
There is an opportunity for the Province and the new minority federal government to work together to advance and realize the interests and aspirations of the people of Ontario. The Province’s priorities are to create an environment that fosters entrepreneurship and economic growth, ensure adequate support for health care, and invest in infrastructure together, including transit. With this focus, the Province will work to make life more affordable for the people of Ontario, while driving competitiveness for businesses. A strong Ontario makes for a strong Canada.
The federal–provincial transfer system is a key component to ensure the long‐term fiscal sustainability of all the provinces and territories. More can be done to make this system work better for Ontario. EY Canada’s 2018 line-by-line review reported that the people of Ontario send $12.9 billion more in tax dollars to Ottawa than the province receives. That is equivalent to what the Province expects to pay this year to service its debt. The review also found that federal transfers are inadequate to meet the growing costs of delivering quality services to the people of Ontario.
This issue is most evident in federal funding for health. In a recent report, the Parliamentary Budget Officer concluded that federal health transfers are declining significantly over time as a share of provincial spending. At the 2019 Council of the Federation meeting, Premier Doug Ford, along with all Premiers, called on the federal government to increase funding to the Canada Health Transfer by an annual escalator of 5.2 per cent.
The Province is making significant investments to improve infrastructure and better connect the people of Ontario. In this effort, the federal government can play an important role. Ontario expects the federal government to do its fair share and provide funding toward provincial and municipal priority projects, including the four new subway projects in the Greater Toronto Area: the Yonge North Subway Extension, the three-stop Scarborough Subway Extension, the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension and the all new Ontario Line.
The government is committed to creating an environment that empowers entrepreneurs and innovators to take risks in Ontario, building their businesses here, and creating jobs across the province. To match the needs of a growing economy, Ontario is enhancing jobs and skills training and taking measures to ensure there are enough job-ready graduates equipped for the jobs of the future. To further support strong labour markets, at the 2019 Council of the Federation meeting, Ontario and other provinces requested robust, equitable and flexible federal investments through provincial and territorial governments.
In today’s competitive economy, the people of Ontario deserve a federal transfer system that recognizes the Province’s priorities, supports fiscal sustainability, and is based on clear and consistent principles, namely:
- Fairness: Federal programs must treat Ontario families fairly; transfers should have clear goals that Canadians can understand and trust.
- Adequacy: Transfer programs must reflect the pressures that the people of Ontario are facing today and will be facing in the future; the new minority federal government must do its share to help the people of Ontario.
- Flexibility: Transfers must respect the priorities of the Province and allow it to respond to the needs of its citizens, while minimizing red tape and costs for Ontario.
Moving forward, the Province is ready and willing to work with the federal government to ensure this system works for the people of Ontario.
Improving Services and Accountability
Protecting OHIP from Fraud
The government is modernizing the administration of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) to reduce inappropriate billing, improve program efficiency and increase value for taxpayers. With these changes, the government will have an easier process recovering funds from incorrect billings, protecting the sustainability of OHIP. These changes respond to recommendations made by the Auditor General, who has noted long standing weaknesses in the laws, policies and processes that ensure accountability in OHIP and related programs.
Furthermore, the government is proceeding with converting all remaining “red and white” health cards to more secure photo cards. When fully implemented, these changes to OHIP administration will achieve savings of $10.5 million annually.
To improve OHIP transparency, the government is working closely with Ontario’s doctors to outline appropriate billing practices. These changes will modernize oversight and accountability of OHIP funded services and contribute to a more sustainable health system for future generations of Ontarians.
Focusing Ontario’s Drug Benefits
In spring 2019, the government announced changes to OHIP+ to focus benefits on those who need them most. As of April 1, 2019, children and youth 24 years of age and under without a private plan continue to receive eligible drugs through OHIP+ at no cost, while those with private coverage bill those plans. This approach ensures children and youth continue to have access to the prescription drugs they need. In addition, the government continues to examine ways to redesign the Ontario Drug Benefit Program to create a sustainable drug system. The government is committed to focusing resources on those who need them most as it modernizes Ontario’s public health care system.
Streamlining Postsecondary Education Program Approvals
The government is committed to support postsecondary institutions in delivering quality programs that are compatible with today’s economic landscape. To facilitate this, Ontario is streamlining its degree consent and program funding approval processes.
Historically, degree granting has required either an act from the legislature or written consent of the Minister of Colleges and Universities, governed by the Post-secondary Education Choice and Excellence Act, 2000. The Province is now streamlining and modernizing this process to help institutions offer new programs faster to meet job-market demands.
Expanding the Evaluation Function of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario
The Ontario government is taking steps to ensure all provincial agencies are relevant, efficient and effective and provide taxpayers better value for money. Based on a comprehensive review, the government is making changes to the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Act, 2005 to expand the agency’s evaluation function. The expanded function of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario will allow the agency to conduct evaluation projects specified by the Minister, including evaluations of postsecondary education programs. This expanded mandate will play a key role in providing evidence-based, independent assessments of postsecondary programs and transfer payments while helping the government in making better, more informed decisions.