Ontario budget focuses on social policy: CEO
Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivered the Wynne government’s second economic blueprint for Ontario. Entitled, “Jobs for Today and Tomorrow” the budget details the government’s next phase in its agenda to create jobs and economic growth. The key pillars of this year’s fiscal plan are: fostering an innovative and dynamic business environment; continuing to invest in infrastructure; emphasizing the importance of education and training; enhancing health care; developing a fair society; strengthening retirement security; and, making life easier.
“This budget focuses much more on the social elements driving the Ontario economy,” said Barry Steinberg, CEO of Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO). “We have grown accustomed to the hard dollars and cents issues impacting Ontario since the recession. This budget is much more about people,” Steinberg remarked. “Consulting Engineers of Ontario has been working closely with the government to implement its infrastructure plan. Queen’s Park is showing a commitment to sound, evidence-based decision making, and to dedicated revenue streams to fund these important investments. These are crucial to elements for delivering successful improvements for Ontarians.”
The proposed budget is pledging to invest $137 billion over the next 10 years for roads, bridges, public transit, hospitals and schools. Coupled with commitments made starting in 2014-15, total Ontario infrastructure investment now stands at $160 billion over 12 years. Of this investment $31.5 billion are dedicated funds. “Separate, dedicated funds for infrastructure investment are the most effective tools for providing value to taxpayers. The Trillium Trust and the new Green Investment Fund will provide government a secure means to eliminate Ontario’s core infrastructure deficit. CEO is looking forward to working with the government to ensure that its commitments turn into successfully delivered projects. The commitments are there; delivery is proof of success,” said Steinberg.
The budget details a total government spend for the coming year of $133.9 billion, leaving a deficit of $4.3billion. The government is maintaining its pledge to bring its finances back to balance by 2017-18. Ontario’s total accumulated debt will reach $313.4 billion by March 31, 2016, representing 39.6 per cent of GDP.