Economy

Ontario: $17 billion response to COVID-19 crisis

Ontario: $17 billion response to COVID-19 crisis”

Providing $10 billion to support improved cash flow for people and businesses during COVID-19 outbreak.

As businesses face a major financial hit due to forced COVID-19 closures, the government will spend $6 billion in tax deferrals this fiscal year giving owners up to five months - August 31, 2020 - to pay their provincial taxes.

"And we are confident that every dollar we invest through this action plan that saves a life or saves a job is a dollar well spent".

Public health, at the frontline of efforts to monitor and control the spread of COVID-19, will receive an additional $160 million in part to pay for laboratory and home testing but also to support the publicly-funded vaccines program.

Ontario says it will provide $935 million to the hospital sector, the lion's share to address capacity to care for patients.

"We are encouraged by (Wednesday's) announcement to defer payments of the Employer Health Tax (EHT), Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premiums and Business Education Taxes, in addition to other provincial taxes ..."

Parents dealing with school and daycare closures get $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.

"The government is providing relief to everyone in our community - families, workers, seniors, businesses, and not-for-profits - in response to these concerns", she said.

According to a release issued by the Ministry of Health, the plan includes a $1-billion COVID-19 contingency fund and an unprecedented $2.5-billion reserve, along with another contingency or $1.3 billion.

The spending boost includes a $1-billion COVID-19 contingency fund, almost $1 billion more for hospitals, and more personal protective equipment for front-line workers.

$75 million to supply personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to front-line staff.

Guaranteed Annual Income System payments for low-income seniors will be doubled for six months. That compares with an estimated deficit of C$9.2 billion for 2019-20.

The province will temporarily increase the Employer Health Tax exemption for 57,000 employers at a cost of $355 million.

"Far too many workers, families and small businesses were already struggling to stay afloat before the COVID-19 pandemic", said Horwath in a news release. Eligibility will be expanded for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program, with an additional $9 million going to breaks on energy bills.

The Ontario government also said it would provide emergency child care options to support parents working on the front lines, such as health care workers, police officers, firefighters and correctional officers.

Expanding access to the emergency assistance program administered by Ontario Works to provide financial support to people facing economic hardship and help more people meet basic needs such as food and rent during this public health emergency.

Students will see OSAP payments loan payments suspended for six months.

Helping to support regions lagging in employment growth with a proposed new corporate income tax credit, the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit.

$26 million to Indigenous peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, and costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations. As well, another $1.2 billion will go towards meeting the demand for services in the health and long-term care sector.

The government's plan also includes measures that will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flows over the coming month.

The Ontario government's updated economic forecast, which it said is subject to a "greater-than-usual" level of uncertainty, assumes zero growth in the province in 2020 and two per cent growth in 2021.

Ontario's fiscal and economic update on Wednesday acknowledged the province is likely to take a significant economic hit from the coronavirus, although the full extent remains to be seen.

Ontario's $2.5-billion reserve fund is the highest in its history.



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