Ontario Budget 2023

With the continued rising cost of living, a slowing of the economy and increased healthcare pressures across Canada, the Government of Ontario was tasked with delivering a budget that worked to address these key concerns while maintaining fiscal prudence. On March 23rd, Ontario’s Finance Minister, Peter Bethlenfalvy, unveiled the government’s 2023 Budget, entitled Building a Strong Ontario. This budget provides a roadmap for the province as it attempts to handle a variety of complex issues over the next year.

In short, the Budget represents a continuation of many of the government’s priorities and announcements throughout the last several months. In many ways, the government maintained the same course as its most recent Fall Economic Statement, with an emphasis on investing in industry and its workers, infrastructure, and healthcare.

Key Priorities

Ontario’s Budget 2023 was specifically focused on 2 themes, Building Ontario and Working for You. Within these two themes, the government presented 5 key pillars:

  1. Building Ontario’s Economy for Today and Tomorrow
  2. Building Highways, Transit and Infrastructure Projects
  3. Working for Workers
  4. Keeping Costs Down
  5. Better Services for you

Within these five pillars, the government announced several key policies, some of the more notable policies unveiled were:

  1. Creating the Ontario Made Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit, which would provide a 10% refundable Corporate Income Tax credit to help local manufacturers.
  2. Delivering over $48 billion in hospital infrastructure over the next 10 years.
  3. Investing $72 million to expand community-based surgical capacity.
  4. Spending $70.5 billion for transit over the next 10 years, including modernizing the GO Transit network and expanding subway lines.
  5. Providing an additional $425 million over three years to support mental health and addiction services.
  6. Providing $224 million in 2023–24 for a new capital stream of the Skills Development Fund to expand training centres.
  7. Expanding the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) program, to allow 100,000 additional seniors to be eligible as well as indexing the benefit to inflation.
  8. Investing $80 million over 3 years to expand nursing education and increase enrolment, to address the healthcare workforce shortage.

Additionally, the government announced an anticipated deficit of $1.3 billion in 2023/24, with a plan to return to a surplus of $200 million by 2024/25. This return to balance is expected to be 3 years earlier than projected in the Fall Economic Statement.

What is the Government Saying?

“With our thoughtful, transparent approach we have a plan to balance the budget while delivering support to families, workers, and businesses across Ontario. We will continue with this approach that is building an Ontario the people of this province can be proud of, not only today but in the future. An Ontario that is strong.” – Peter Bethenfalvy, Minister of Finance

“Our Ontario Budget 2023 is all about investing in the hardworking people and businesses of Ontario and laying the foundation for a Strong Ontario. Together, we will Build Ontario for generations to come.” – Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

What is the Opposition Saying?

“Ford’s budget fails to meet the moment and shows he isn’t interested in making the investments we need in public health care, affordable housing, or education – all the things that make Ontario a place where people want to live, work, learn and grow.” – MPP Marit Stiles, Leader of Ontario’s NDP

“The Ford Conservatives could balance the budget without neglecting the health and wellbeing of everyday Ontarians. Instead of investing in the services Ontarians desperately need, they are quietly underfunding critical services and programs.” MPP John Fraser, Interim Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party

Our Analysis

Budget 2023 marks a clear departure from pandemic-driven spending and a return to fiscal restraint and economy-focused spending. The Government of Ontario made it clear that this budget represents an end to COVID-19 spending, while still acknowledging the need to maintain strong contingency funds.

Within Budget 2023, the PC government attempted to strike a balance between realizing election promises, such as investments in infrastructure, addressing urgent issues, such as healthcare backlogs, while maintaining fiscal responsibility with a path to balance.

Within healthcare, the government chose to focus its investments on bolstering infrastructure and human resources. This includes $48 billion over 10 years to build and renew healthcare infrastructure, $72 million to increase community-based surgical facility capacity, $80 million to expand nursing education, $4.3 million to help at least 50 internationally trained physicians get licensed in Ontario and adding 154 postgraduate medical training seats.  These promises also build on the recently announced healthcare agreement with the federal government, which will see $73 billion in federal funding invested in the Ontario system over 10 years. This demonstrates the province’s acknowledgement that more needs to be done to address these persistent healthcare challenges.

On the economic front, the province is investing heavily to develop skilled trade-based industries. With continued investments in manufacturing and critical minerals, the province is demonstrating its willingness to work alongside industry partners to develop new industries in the province. Not only is this meant to support the economy and create opportunities for workers, but also plays well with blue-collar workers – a key support coalition the government has been building throughout the last several years.

Another key theme within the Budget is a return to fiscal responsibility and a path to a balanced budget, as the province expects to run a surplus by 2024/25. While Budget 2023 is the largest spending allotment in the province’s history, the government saw revenues for 2023 that were $20 billion higher than anticipated – allowing the province to close the fiscal gap quicker than previously estimated. The government’s commitment to maintaining a surplus in 2024/25, marks a return to greater fiscal responsibility that was championed at the start of the Ford government’s first term and could indicate lower spending in the years ahead.

Now that the province has put forward its budget, it will now be on the PCs to successfully communicate its priorities to the public and ensure that Ontarians see the positive impacts of these investments in the areas that are most important, including healthcare outcomes and affordability.

JB+A Senior Management Team:
Jenni Byrne

Andrew Kimber

Simon Jefferies

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