There were no surprises at Queen’s Park last week as Andrea Horwath’s New Democratic Party helped the Kathleen Wynne Liberal minority government pass Ontario’s Budget for 2013.
The government noted the budget makes smart investments that will strengthen the economy, helps create jobs for youth and takes action to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18.
Highlights of the 2013 Ontario Budget include:
Establishing a Youth Jobs Strategy of $295 million over two years to create jobs and mentorship opportunities for about 30,000 youth and promote entrepreneurship and innovation;
Creating jobs through investments in infrastructure for public transit, roads, bridges, hospitals and schools;
Reducing auto insurance rates by 15 per cent on average for nine million drivers;
Helping 46,000 more people receive home and community care quickly and in the comfort of their own home;
Providing tax relief to small businesses to create more jobs by increasing their Employer Health Tax exemption from $400,000 to $450,000 of payroll; and
Taking steps to transform social assistance to help more recipients find jobs and improve their financial security.
“We are committed to helping businesses grow, helping people find good jobs and ensuring all of our communities are strong and vibrant,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne. “We will continue to work to secure a brighter future for all the people of this province.”
The deficit for 2012-13 is now estimated to be $9.8 billion — a $5 billion improvement compared with the 2012 Budget forecast.
The government is projecting real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 1.5 per cent in 2013, 2.3 per cent in 2014, and 2.4 per cent in both 2015 and 2016.
The fiscal year just ended marks the fourth year in a row that the province has reported a deficit lower than forecast. Program spending growth is projected to be less than one per cent for the second year in a row.
In addition to beating the deficit target for 2012-13, the province is projecting an improvement of more than $1 billion from the $12.8 billion deficit projected in the 2012 Budget for 2013-14. Program spending in 2013-14 is unchanged from the 2012 Budget projection.
Beyond 2013-14, the government is on track to meet the steadily declining deficit targets outlined in the 2012 Budget and achieve a $0.5 billion surplus in 2017-18.
Working with key partners, the government is laying out a six-part economic renewal plan that will help Ontario’s economy seize new opportunities for growth and job creation: