Minister’s Introduction and Foreword


Ontario is seeing significant growth across the province.

Our population is growing rapidly, with nearly 500,000 more people coming to the province last year. 

Businesses of all sizes are setting up shop. Last year, 18,000 businesses opened right here in Ontario, representing 41 per cent of the 43,700 businesses that opened in Canada. In the first half of 2023 there were 4,400 more businesses in the province compared to the same period last year.

This means more new jobs. In fact, in the first nine months of 2023 over 170,000 net new jobs were created right here in Ontario. 

While this is good news for our province, Ontario continues to face heightened economic and geopolitical uncertainties.

As I have cautioned many times over the past year, we are not immune to the risk of an economic slowdown.

The impacts of high inflation and the Bank of Canada’s rapid interest rate increases are weighing on Ontario’s economic outlook for the remainder of this year, and into next.

Ontario is still facing some supply chain disruptions.

Russia’s war on Ukraine and the horrific terrorist attack against Israel means continued geopolitical uncertainty. 

These challenges have contributed to risks and financial pressures faced by people and businesses in Ontario.

While these economic and global challenges create risk, the choice for the road ahead is clear.

We must continue with the responsible and targeted approach that was outlined in our 2023 Ontario Budget: Building a Strong Ontario.

This approach has given the government the flexibility it needs amid a slowing global economy, while continuing to make targeted investments to implement our plan to build the province to support our historic growth.

Our approach continues to be the right one.

Ontario is building a strong economy to get the province through these uncertain times and create prosperity for future generations.

We are building the critical infrastructure needed to support our growing communities.

We are training workers to fill the jobs needed in key sectors like health care and the skilled trades, while also helping them plan for their retirement.

We are helping to put money back in people’s pockets during a time of high interest rates and inflation. 

We are providing better services for the people of Ontario, especially our most vulnerable.

Although there is more pressure on our fiscal plan since the spring, we maintain our commitment to balancing the budget.

As we deal with the uncertainty ahead, our government will never hesitate to do what is necessary to support people and businesses.

With the province’s growing communities and challenging economic times, we will all need to work together to build a strong Ontario for now and the future.

Building Ontario

The government is building Ontario so we have the investments and infrastructure in place to strengthen local economies and communities across the province now and in the future.

Building the Economy for Today and Tomorrow

Our government is continuing to leverage the economic potential of the province’s critical minerals in the North, including by working to unlock the opportunities in the Ring of Fire.

To help stimulate more exploration and strengthen the province’s position as a global leader in supplying responsibly sourced critical minerals, our government is proposing to enhance the Ontario Focused Flow-Through Share Tax Credit.

We are connecting these critical minerals to the province’s growing electric vehicle industry.

As we do this, our government is attracting more and more landmark manufacturing investments to the province, including in the automotive and clean steel sectors.

Over the last three years, the government has attracted more than $26 billion in transformative auto and electric vehicle battery-related investments to Ontario.

Attracting new investments also means new jobs for the sector. In the first nine months of 2023, 27,700 net new manufacturing jobs were created. 

As part of our plan to bring more manufacturing jobs back to the province, the Ontario Made Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit is helping Ontario manufacturers lower costs, innovate and become more competitive.

We need to keep up this momentum. To help encourage more investment in the province, the government is providing $100 million in new funding to Invest Ontario.

With new investments and jobs coming to Ontario and the population growing rapidly, the province needs clean and affordable energy that all our communities can rely on.

To meet growing electricity demand, the province is investing in Ontario’s clean energy advantage.

We are conducting the largest clean energy storage procurement in Canada, supporting building North America’s first grid-scale Small Modular Reactor, and supporting the continued safe operation of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station to 2026 as well as the refurbishment of Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.

And we are working in partnership with Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation, Northland Power, NRStor and Aecon Group to develop the Oneida Energy Storage Project in Haldimand County.

The government is also continuing to help Ontario businesses lower their costs so they can compete, grow and weather the economic uncertainty ahead.  

In 2023, our government will enable an overall $8.0 billion in cost savings and support for Ontario businesses, with $3.6 billion going to small businesses.

Building Highways, Transit and Infrastructure

Having strong, growing communities means we also need to build and maintain more infrastructure.

This is why our government continues to deliver on Ontario’s Plan to Build. Our $185 billion capital plan is the most ambitious in the province’s history.

The plan is building highways, roads, transit, hospitals, long-term care homes, schools and child care spaces across the province.

However, as hundreds of thousands of people move to Ontario each year, existing infrastructure across the province is becoming more and more strained.

To meet the growing needs of our communities, we must build more infrastructure and we must all work together to get this done.

This is why our government is introducing new tools to attract institutional investments to help build more infrastructure that would otherwise not get built.

To attract more capital so we can build more, we are launching the Ontario Infrastructure Bank, a new, arms-length agency to leverage investments by public-sector pension plans and other trusted Canadian institutional investors to help fund large-scale infrastructure projects across the province.

At the outset, the projects financed through this new agency will be focused on long-term care homes, energy infrastructure, affordable housing, municipal and community infrastructure and transportation.

Having institutional investor support will help the government build more infrastructure, while creating opportunities for Canadian pension funds to put their members’ investments to work right here at home.

Working for You

Building a strong Ontario, together, also means we need more workers trained to fill in-demand jobs, have better services for more people, and to put money back in people’s pockets amid high inflation.  

Working for Workers

We need more skilled workers to help build the housing, hospitals, long-term care homes, schools, child care spaces and roads that Ontario needs.

This is why our government has invested over $1 billion over three years in the Skilled Trades Strategy to encourage and train people to work in the skilled trades.

Additionally, since 2021, Ontario has invested over $860 million in the Skills Development Fund Training Stream, helping over half a million people advance their careers in its first three funding rounds.

Our 2023 Budget investment of $224 million in the new Skills Development Fund Capital Stream will support the building, upgrading and expansion of brick and mortar training centres, including union-led training halls. This will provide more people with opportunities to learn new skills so they can benefit from the insights, knowledge and strengths of private-sector unions.

Ontario’s government is also helping ensure workers have a secure retirement. Target benefit pension plans have workers’ savings work as hard as they do.  

These plans are offered by a union or association, especially in industries involving the skilled trades. However, a permanent regulatory framework for these plans has never been put in place.

This is why our government is taking action to help skilled trades workers save for their retirement through the development of a permanent framework for target benefits.

We are consulting on regulations necessary for the framework. A permanent framework would bring certainty to unions and associations and help protect the retirement security of workers while making a career in the skilled trades even more attractive.

Keeping Costs Down

Our government understands that it is a challenging time for many across the province and it has acted early to help put money back in people’s pockets.

To help Ontario families keep costs down, we eliminated licence plate renewal fees and stickers, removed tolls on Highway 412 and 418, temporarily cut the gas tax and fuel tax rates, eliminated double fares for people connecting to GO Transit from most municipal transit systems, increased the minimum wage, and temporarily doubled the Guaranteed Annual Income System payments for eligible low-income seniors.

To help continue to provide predictability to Ontario families’ household budgets, our government is proposing to extend the cuts to the gas tax and fuel tax rates to June 30, 2024. This would save households $260 on average since the cuts were first implemented in July 2022.  

We also continue to call on the federal government to follow our lead in providing relief to drivers while removing added costs for businesses by pausing the carbon tax increase.

We are also addressing the housing crisis, which continues to be a major priority for our government.

We welcome the federal government’s decision to listen to Ontario’s long-standing call for GST relief for new purpose-built rental housing.

As we have committed since fall 2022, we are now taking steps to enhance the Ontario HST New Residential Rental Property Rebate by removing the full eight per cent provincial portion of the HST on qualifying new purpose-built rental housing.

This would encourage the building of more rentals units, and is another action from our government to help people in Ontario afford to find a place to live.

Better Services for You

With more people choosing to call Ontario home, our government is improving services to make it easier for people to access programs and care.

Through our government’s Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, pharmacists across Ontario can now prescribe treatment for 19 common ailments. The waitlist for surgeries has been reduced by more than 25,000 from the peak in March 2022.

We have invested $330 million annually to better connect children and youth to care, including surgeries, emergency care and mental health services.

And we are continuing to improve access to care.

Beginning in fall 2024, women age 40 to 49 will be able to self-refer for a mammogram through the Ontario Breast Screening Program.

Increasing access to breast cancer screening can lead to earlier detection, less invasive treatment and better outcomes.

Building a Strong Ontario Together

The economic challenges on the horizon underscore the need to remain fiscally disciplined and responsible. 

And this is exactly what our government is doing.

Our responsible, targeted approach is giving us the flexibility to adapt so we can face the challenges ahead.

The people of Ontario can have confidence that this government is making responsible decisions to support families and businesses through the uncertainty of today, while continuing to lay a strong fiscal foundation for future generations that includes a path to get back to a balanced budget. We are projecting a deficit of $5.6 billion this year, decreasing to $5.3 billion next year, and a modest surplus in 2026.

Now, the road ahead is not going to be easy.

But we have seen what the people of Ontario can accomplish when we come together.

Together, we can overcome any obstacle that comes our way.

Together, we can face the economic uncertainty before us.

Together, we can build the critical infrastructure we need to support our growing communities.

Together, we can build a strong Ontario.

Original signed by

The Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy
Ontario’s Minister of Finance

Updated: November 2, 2023
Published: November 2, 2023