The Ontario Liberal government released the 2018 Budget in late March. The Budget includes significant new investments in health care, child care, home care and mental-health care, and new measures to create more jobs for people across the province. The Budget focuses on initiatives that make life more affordable and that will work to provide more financial security during this time of rapid economic change.
Ontario's economy is getting stronger, with the unemployment rate at its lowest in almost two decades. Yet—between the rising cost of living and long-term jobs becoming harder to find—many people are still struggling to take care of themselves and their families. As the changing global economy widens the gaps within our society, our government has a plan to build a fairer, better Ontario by supporting everyone in the province with the care and opportunity they need to
Ontario will expand OHIP+ with free prescription medication coverage for everyone 65 and over, improve mental health care and addictions services, and introduce free preschool child care for children aged two-and-a-half until they’re eligible for kindergarten.
Here is how the budget helps you:
- Making prescriptions completely free for everyone 65 and over through OHIP+, ensuring that no senior ever needs to go without necessary drugs. This saves the average Ontario senior $240 per year. This expansion of OHIP+ follows the introduction of free prescriptions for everyone under the age of 25, which came into effect in January, 2018.
- Making college and university tuition free for more than 225,000 students of all ages. Free or low tuition is available for students from low- and middle-income families; tuition is free for those earning up to $90,000 and students from families who earn up to $175,000 are also eligible for generous financial aid.
- Making preschool child care free for children aged two-and-a-half until they are eligible for full-day kindergarten. This saves a family with one child $17,000, on average, and families in cities like Toronto where child care costs are highest will save even more. This builds on the savings families are already seeing thanks to full-day kindergarten.
- Providing a long-awaited raise for 1.2 million people across Ontario by increasing the minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018 and again to $15 per hour on January 1, 2019.
- Improving hospitals by providing better access to care, reducing wait times, addressing capacity issues and better meeting the needs of Ontario’s growing and ageing population through an additional $822-million investment in 2018–19—the largest single government investment in hospitals in almost a decade. The province is also investing approximately $19 billion over 10 years to build and renovate hospitals.
- Investing $1 billion to create the new Seniors’ Healthy Home Program, which provides a benefit of up to $750 annually for eligible households led by seniors 75 and over to help them live at home longer and offset the costs of maintaining their homes.
- Introducing a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program, reimbursing 80 per cent of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses each year, for those without workplace health benefits or not covered by OHIP+ or other government programs. That’s up to $400 per single person, $600 per couple and $700 for a family of four with two children.
- Making the single largest investment in mental health care in Canadian history, with a $2.1 billion commitment that will mean better and faster access to mental health and addictions services for hundreds of thousands more children, young people and adults across Ontario.
- Creating 30,000 new long-term care beds over the next 10 years to help people who can no longer live independently and provide more peace of mind for families and caregivers. These new beds are in addition to the 30,000 existing beds already being redeveloped.
- Building a fairer society and providing more choice and independence by investing $1.8 billion to strengthen services for 47,000 adults with developmental disabilities and reforming the social assistance system to focus on people rather than on rules and regulations.
- Lowering the cost of commuting by about $720 per year for the average commuter transferring between the GO/UP Express network and the TTC, and providing a public transit tax credit that saves seniors up to $450 a year, as of July 1, 2017.
- Cutting residential electricity bills as of July 1, 2017, by 25 per cent on average and up to
40 or 50 per cent for eligible rural and low-income families.