Industry professionals respond to 2024 Ontario Budget

Various professionals from associations including OPTA, CUTA and RCCAO are applauding the provincial government following the release of the 2024 Ontario Budget.

Photo credit: Vijay Thanigasalam via Twitter

The Ontario Public Transit Association (OPTA), the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) and the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) have issued statements in response to the 2024 Ontario Budget.

On March 26, Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance, released the 2024 Ontario Budget: Building a Better Ontario.

The budget noted that Ontario’s economy fared better than expected in 2023, with real GDP growth estimated to be 1.2 per cent. Despite interest rate hikes, inflation cooled down to 2.7 per cent. GDP in 2024, however, is projected to grow 0.3 per cent.

According to the budget, growth is expected to rebound in 2025 to 1.9 per cent and 2.2 per cent in 2026 and 2027. Ontario’s labour market is expected to cool down as employment growth is expected to slow from 2.4 per cent in 2023 to 0.8 per cent in 2024.

For the 2023-24 fiscal year, the provincial deficit is projected to be $3 billion, $9.8 billion in 2024-25 and $4.6 billion in 2025-26, prior to reaching a $0.5 billion surplus in 2026-27.

To support the growing population, the government will continue to support various infrastructure projects such as highways and transit, healthcare, schools and childcare, mental health services, and helping workers plan for retirement.

“The investments in critical infrastructure in Budget 2024 are a reflection of the priorities of the people of Ontario,” said Nadia Todorova, executive director of RCCAO. “Ontarians recognize that highways, water infrastructure capacity and housing are crucial to tackle some of the province’s biggest challenges and we are pleased that the Ontario government has answered their calls to build.”

Following this announcement, Tony D’Alessandro, OPTA chair and director of transit services, Town of Milton, noted the growing demand for transit.

“We’re pleased to see the government’s record support for public transit infrastructure reflected in this budget,” said D’Alessandro. “As demand for transit grows, we are committed to working with the government to address operating pressures facing Ontario transit agencies.”

Kelly Paleczny, CUTA chair and general manager, London Transit Commission, also noted the importance of these investments in order to accomodate growth. “Investments in public transit operations are needed to maintain service levels and ensure Ontario’s communities can accommodate growth.”

The Ontario government is also making investments in training to help fill in-demand jobs in areas such as the skilled trades and health care.

The Skills Development Fund Training Stream is helping to address challenges in hiring, training and retaining workers through an additional $100 million in 2024–25, in addition to the over $860 million that has been invested since its launch in 2021.

Ontario is also investing $224 million to expand access to bricks-and-mortar training centres through the Skills Development Fund Capital Stream.

Over the next three years, the government is investing an additional $16.5 million annually to support programs that focus on breaking the stigma and attracting more young people into the skilled trades.

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