Minister’s Foreword and Introduction

Minister’s Foreword and Introduction

COVID‑19 arrived on Canadian shores one year ago.

At the time, few could have anticipated the devastating consequences, here at home and across the globe. 

Our loved ones, our economy, our education system, our main streets and our communities have all been impacted by the global pandemic.

But from the first moments of this crisis, Premier Ford made clear that our government would protect the people of this province.

As the COVID‑19 pandemic has continued to unfold during the preparation of this Budget, people have been very clear that they expect us to be focused on two vital priorities:

  1. First and foremost, they expect us to protect people’s health.
  2. And second, they expect us to protect our economy.

That is exactly what this Budget does.

We have been through stormy seas this past year. But with vaccines arriving in our communities, hope is on the horizon and a safe harbour is in sight.

At community centres and doctors’ offices and hospitals across our province, Ontario’s health care heroes are delivering vaccines that will help us return to normal. That’s what hope looks like.

But this difficult voyage isn’t over. And the government’s job — to protect you, the people of Ontario — isn’t done.

Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our entire government will continue to have your back and do whatever it takes to finish the job. To get to the day when we can hug our grandchildren. To gather in person to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Or get together at a local rink for a hockey game.

As we work together towards that day, we remain steadfast in our promise to protect people’s health and our economy.

That’s been our promise since the beginning of this crisis. It remains our promise today.

Protecting People’s Health

Photo of  Premier Doug Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliot and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones at COVID-19 testing announcement at the Toronto Pearson International Airport

Every victim of COVID‑19 has left behind a devastated family, while the fear of the virus has infected all aspects of our lives and led to new mental health and addiction concerns in Ontario and around the world.

This is why Ontario’s primary focus since March 2020 has been protecting people’s health and to make good on Premier Ford’s simple, non-negotiable promise to the people of Ontario — we will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.

We will keep this promise, during COVID‑19 and beyond.

Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy brings the government’s total investment to protect people’s health to $16.3 billion.

Protecting Our Economy

Premier Doug Ford at an infrastructure project announcement

Overwhelmingly, the people and employers of Ontario have been willing to do what it takes to protect each other from COVID‑19, even when these sacrifices have impacted their livelihoods.

Ontario recognizes these sacrifices and is taking additional steps to provide direct support to families, workers and employers through measures outlined in this Budget.

Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy brings the government’s total investment to protect Ontario’s economy to $23.3 billion.

An Update on the Economic and Fiscal Situation

COVID‑19 has taken a serious toll on our province’s economy and on our province’s finances.

But since the very beginning of the COVID‑19 pandemic, Premier Ford has made a simple promise to the people of Ontario — your government will do whatever it takes to protect you.

As the Minister of Finance and as the President of the Treasury Board, my job is to ensure we make every resource available to keep the Premier’s promise. And we have. The Ontario government is projecting to spend $173.0 billion in 2021–22. When you consider that the government spent $152.3 billion in 2019–20 and $148.8 billion in 2018–19, it’s clear that we are sparing no expense to defeat COVID‑19.

Of course, as it has for governments around the world, this spending has resulted in record deficits. We project the deficit will be $33.1 billion in 2021–22. And while this level of the deficit is neither sustainable nor desirable forever, I am absolutely, unequivocally convinced it is necessary to get through the pandemic and to recover stronger.

In fact, I believe the price of not making these record investments would be much, much higher in terms of lost lives, jobs and prosperity.

Because as I often say, you can’t have a healthy economy without healthy people. Only by beating this virus will we get back to normal. But we are still in the pandemic.

In this Budget, we once again outline three economic and fiscal scenarios, in an effort to be as transparent as possible about the great uncertainty that remains in our global economy and the risks that poses to our province’s finances.

Some may say we must rely on tax hikes or cuts to public services to restore fiscal sustainability. We are choosing a different path, because anyone who claims higher taxes or fewer public services are inevitable is forcing a false choice. Growth is the third path, one that our government intends to pursue.

I have become more convinced than ever that economic growth will be the key to ensuring the sustainability of Ontario’s public finances.

Economic growth will create jobs, ensure revenues to support and protect our critical public services, and allow Ontario to return to a sustainable fiscal position.

Since 2018, we have worked hard to confront Ontario’s competitiveness issues. We have strengthened the foundation of our province’s economy. And to build on that, later this year our government will release our plan to create the conditions for stronger, long-term economic growth.

While we create the conditions, it will be the people and employers who create the actual growth.

If COVID‑19 has taught us anything, it’s that the 14.7 million people of Ontario can accomplish incredible things when we work towards a common goal.

I know that their hard work, ingenuity and drive for better, stronger families and communities will set us on a path that restores Ontario’s place as the economic engine of the country.

Premier Ford calls it the Ontario Spirit.

The Ontario Spirit is hard work and sacrifice. Kindness and respect.

Doing what’s right, not what’s easy.

It hasn’t been — and it won’t be — a straight path to the finish line, but the Ontario Spirit will get us through COVID‑19. And when that time comes, the Ontario Spirit will unleash growth unlike anything we’ve seen in the province, ever before.

Hope is on the horizon. It is months, not years, away. And until then, we will maintain our unbroken focus on protecting people’s health and our economy.

Original signed by

The Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy

Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board

Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy
Accessible description of chart

Chart Description

Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy

  • Protecting People’s Health — $16.3 Billion
  • Protecting Our Economy — $23.3 Billion
  • Total Direct Support — $39.6 Billion
  • Improving Cash Flow for People and Businesses — $11.3 Billion
  • $51 Billion in Total Supports over Four Years

Return to chart

Updated: March 24, 2021
Published: March 24, 2021