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Six Thoughts on the Ontario Budget 2016

March 7, 2016 Fast Facts


We haven’t had the chance to read all 346 pages of the Ontario Budget 2016 yet.  Others have, apparently.  Here is a sampling of comments from newspaper commentary and policy experts from around the province.

1.  Post Secondary Education to become More Accessible

The government will make post secondary education more accessible and affordable.  They are doing this by creating the Ontario Student Grant (OSG) for the 2017-2018 school year. Students from families with incomes under $50,000 will have no provincial student debt. Fifty per cent of students from families with annual incomes under $83,000 will benefit too.  They will receive non-repayable grants that will exceed average college or university tuition. (Toronto Star) “The Ontario Government has sent a clear message with this provincial budget,” Bilan Arte, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students told the National Post. “Education should not be a privilege of the wealthy, education is a right of everyone.”

2. “Wretched” Increases to Social  Assistance                                                                                                     

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) criticizes increases for those on Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).  They are “pegged below even the official rate of inflation, let alone the real cost of living increases that poor people are experiencing.”  OCAP calls this  “a wretched 1.5% increase to those on social assistance, with an extra pittance for those with the lowest incomes of all, single people without children on OW, that will provide them with a total additional payment of $25 a month.”  Worse, these increases don’t begin until September and October.

3.  Public Service Spending Falling Behind

The finance minister has eased up on his goal of keeping program spending growth to below one per cent, but just barely: the province’s program spending is projected to average 1.9 per cent growth between 2014-15 and 2018-19. This means that government spending on public services will continue to fall behind inflation and population growth.Economist Sheila Block

4.  Child Support Clawback to End

The dollar-for-dollar clawback of child support from social assistance will end. “Ending the dollar-for-dollar child support clawback is stellar news for people on social assistance and long overdue,” notes Jennefer Laidley, Research and Policy Analyst at the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC). “It’s also a positive signal for future movement on reforms to social assistance programs.”

5.  Child Care Ignored

Campaign 2000 says the budget has ignored “the growing momentum and consensus among low and middle income families that universal, accessible and high quality childcare is essential to their lives and livelihood.”

Ontario has the highest childcare fees in Canada.  “It is nearly impossible for low and middle income families to pursue work and higher education," says Campaign 2000, a national group who work end child/family poverty by publishing research on the indicators of child poverty and developing public education resources.

6.  Hospitals Get Some Help “The budget even contains an increase in funding for hospitals, the first in five years. It's small and won't stop the pain of health-care restructuring, but it might ease it somewhat.” Howard Elliott of the Hamilton Spectator





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