The Ontario Liberal Plan for Rural Ontario

Our new Ontario Liberal team will be the partner rural Ontarians deserve. We will grow essential services like healthcare and education, build critical infrastructure, and create good jobs in rural Ontario.

Promote the wellbeing and success of rural communities

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Ensure access to a family doctor or nurse practitioner in rural communities
  • Get more health services in rural Ontario
  • Cover tuition costs for medical and nursing students working in a rural community
  • Fund and equip rural schools
  • Build or repair rural community infrastructure, like libraries and arenas

As part of ensuring access to a family doctor or nurse practitioner within 24 hours regardless of where you live in Ontario, we’ll expand the number of Community Health Centres and Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics so all communities have access to primary care. We’ll also cover tuition costs for any medical and nursing students in Ontario who commit to working long-term in a rural or remote community.

The way Ontario funds schools is based on a decades-old, one-size-fits-all formula – one that forces smaller and rural schools to close. It’s time to refresh that formula top to bottom to ensure it meets the needs of rural students, parents and educators.

We’ll also build or repair crucial community rural infrastructure like libraries, arenas and other community spaces through a new $50 million Rural Development Fund – using it to also encourage the co-location of schools and community services. 

Expand internet access by 2025

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Get affordable, high-speed internet to everyone by 2025
  • Generate more competition for internet providers

Internet has become an essential good for people, especially during two years of physical distancing. We need to improve access to internet while driving down costs through greater competition – leveraging existing public fibre assets to expand small, municipal or community-owned networks. Expanding these and other networks, along with investing in low Earth orbit satellites, will get affordable, high-speed internet to every Ontario household and business by 2025.

To help close the digital divide across Ontario, we’ll require the Ontario government and the broader public sector to donate any surplus devices to communities and families in need. Finally, we’ll invest in digitizing Ontario’s public libraries – giving all Ontarians access to free e-learning, online resources and more e-books.

Target big food retailers and support farmers

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Require fair and open negotiations between farmers and grocers
  • Preserve farmland and promote sustainable farming
  • Improve food processing capacity
  • Increase carbon tax rebates to farmers and involve them in climate action to protect lands

Ontario is blessed with an abundant food supply, but a few big companies dominate food retailing and processing. They control prices, levy new fees on suppliers and make significant profits. We’re ready to take on these mega-companies and their abusive behaviour toward farmers by legislating fair and open negotiations between retailers and suppliers – a move that will drive down food prices in the long-term. We’ll also make Ontario’s food supply chain more resilient by preserving farmland and promoting sustainable farming techniques, as well as investing in additional regional processing capacity and reviewing potential restrictions on foreign ownership of farmland.

We’ll develop a made-for-rural climate action plan that recognizes the unique challenges of reducing greenhouse gases in remote settings and the agriculture sector – which will include working with federal partners to strengthen carbon tax rebates to farmers. We’ll also bring more lands under the Greenbelt’s protection in close collaboration with local and Indigenous communities and farmers and strengthen the powers of Ontario’s Conservation Authorities to provide them with the tools and resources they need to prevent flooding and protect our natural resources.

Guarantee home care for everyone who needs it

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Help seniors pay for home repairs and assistive tools like wheelchairs, hearing aids, ramps and lifts
  • Give more money to caregivers that support their loved ones
  • Increase funding for home care by 10% annually prioritizing non-profit care
  • Fund assisted living alternatives and “hub and spoke” community care

Older adults want to live as long as possible in their own homes close to friends, neighbours and family. It’s past time that we listen to seniors and respect their choices. We’ll expand and make permanent the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit to make living at home safer and more accessible – as well as cover more costs for assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids and lifts. For people who take care of loved ones, we’ll make the Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit refundable, tax-free and paid out throughout the year and enhance access to support programs and tools.

We’ll guarantee that any senior who needs care in their own home gets it by increasing the annual budget for home and community care by over $2 billion through 10% annual increases with a focus on front-line non-profit care, resulting in 400,000 more seniors able to get not-for-profit home care by 2026.

We’ll also fund 15,000 new assisted living homes – including small, accessible and community-based residential services – as well as “hub and spoke” care that provides a comprehensive continuum of care.

To make sure closing for-profit homes doesn’t lead to longer wait times for seniors, we’ll build 30,000 new long-term care spaces by 2028 and redevelop 28,000 existing spaces to modern standards. We’ll do this by providing capital, operating and governance support to non-profit groups that want to build long-term care homes, with an emphasis on building smaller homes that reflect their communities, rather than institutional warehouses. We’ll give funds to non-profit long-term care homes to provide at least an average of four hours of direct care per day, as well as provide pharmacy services, high-speed wi-fi, air conditioning and other standards of excellent care.

Empower local governments to build more homes

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Empower municipalities to accelerate housing projects
  • Help and reward municipalities that meet or exceed higher housing targets
  • Prevent urban sprawl and restore urban intensification requirements

Local communities know best when it comes to where and how to build more homes, so we’ll make sure they have the resources they need to approve housing as quickly and responsibly as possible – providing up to $300 million in new funding over five years. As well, we’ll reward local governments that meet or exceed housing targets in an environmentally-sustainable manner with dedicated capital funding to use for local priorities, like better transit or community amenities like parks and libraries.

More homes need to be built, but we can’t just keep spreading further and further out – encroaching on farmlands, wetlands and other greenspaces. We need to add more family-friendly housing options to the communities where people already live, which means restoring urban intensification requirements that the Ford Conservatives weakened.

Make it safer to bike, walk and drive

Ontario Liberals will:

  • Work to eliminate road fatalities and serious road injuries
  • Make it cheaper to install winter tires
  • Expand cycling lanes and trails and make it easier to find and park bikes

We’ll provide communities with $100 million annually to build separated bike lanes and cycling trails, expand bike sharing and rental services and secure bike parking. We’ll also make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians to get around and set a goal to achieve zero fatalities or serious road injuries. We’ll do this by supporting common-sense road designs that improve safety and reduce collisions, and we’ll increase penalties for driving offences that result in fatalities or serious injuries. To encourage safer winter driving, we’ll introduce a refundable tax credit of $75 per winter tire.

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