March 29, 2018

Ontario’s Pre-election Budget Projects a $6.7B deficit for 2018-19

Ontario’s Budget 2018 has been tabled ten weeks ahead of the provincial election on June 7th.

The province is projecting a $600 million surplus at the end of the current fiscal year effectively meeting its commitment to return to balance by 2017-18.

As telegraphed in its 2018 throne Speech, the government has decided to expand programming and spending in several key areas, including:

  • increasing hospital operating budgets to reduce wait times;
  • investing in seniors’ homecare;
  • new investments in mental health initiatives;
  • increased coverage for health, drug and dental benefits;
  • more free tuition through the OSAP program.
  • free pre-school day care for children between 2.5 years and Kindergarten age.

The government has committed to $20.3 billion in new spending over the next three years to support its priorities and is projecting a deficit of $6.7 billion in 2018-19. The province will run deficits through 2023-24, with a balanced budget projected in 2024-25 and a $2.6 billion surplus in 2025-26.

Infrastructure spending, by and large, has already been committed in previous budgets. The government commits to continuing its record investment in transit, roads, hospitals, schools, bridges and railway systems. A total of $182 billion will be invested in the next 10 years. That includes:

  • $79 billion for transit
  • $25 billion for highways
  • $19 billion for hospital capital grants
  • $16 billion for capital grants to build new schools and improve existing buildings.

(Infrastructure spending totals $230 billion over a 14-year period that began in 2014-15).

Budget 2018 highlights the progress of major transit initiatives in the GTHA, including the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, the Hamilton LRT, the Hurontario LRT and the GO Regional Express Rail (RER) project, which is the largest public transit undertaking in Canada.

The government also commits $490 million over the next 10 years for the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission to repair and refurbish railway tracks, bridges and trains.

In order to support its child care initiative, the government will invest $534 million over the next 6 years to build 1,100 child care rooms.

The government’s affordable housing plan commits $547 million over 5 years for repairs and retrofits that support energy efficiency and the long-term sustainability of social housing.

More than $3 billion in capital grants are committed to post-secondary institutions over the next 10 years. More than $500 million to be invested starting in 2020-21 to renew and modernize university and college campuses. That includes updating classroom and labs, facility retrofits and other renewal projects.

The province is committed to spending $500 million over 3 years to expand broadband in rural and northern communities. An additional $64 million over 3 years will be committed to enhancing existing cyber security practices.

The Community Transportation Grant will provide $40 million over 5 years to help municipalities and Indigenous communities provide more travel options in areas that are not served or are under-served by public transit.

Annual funding to help municipalities repair roads and bridges connecting two ends of a provincial highway or to a border crossing will increase by $5 million to $30 million, benefiting 22 municipalities.

The New Economy Fund commits $500 million over the next 10 years to create and retain more than 20 thousand jobs and attract $5.7 billion in investment.

For more information, see the 2018 Ontario Budget page.