Among the highlights of the Ontario budget, the overhaul of tax credits for films, books and animation

Tax credits would take into account current practices and the rise of online production and distribution

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Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government tabled a budget on Thursday that effectively serves as the platform for the spring election. Here are the highlights:

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OFF THE WAY TO BALANCE

The budget calls for spending of $198.6 billion, including billions earmarked for infrastructure this year and over the next decade.

The document promises $158.8 billion over 10 years for highways, public transit and hospitals. Infrastructure spending this year alone is $20 billion.

The budget plan shows the province managed to reduce its deficit to $13.5 billion in 2021-22, from $16.4 billion in the first year of the pandemic.

However, the deficit is expected to climb to $19.9 billion this fiscal year and the government does not expect to balance the books until 2027-28.

A report from Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office released last month said the province is on track to balance the budget by next year.

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FINANCING OF HOSPITALS

Hospital infrastructure projects are expected to receive more than $40 billion over the next decade, including approximately $27 billion in capital funding.

The province says the money will help support hospital projects already underway or currently in the planning stages, as well as new facilities.

Some of the projects listed in the budget, such as a new inpatient tower and an expanded emergency department at the Scarborough Health Network’s Birchmount site, were part of the government’s recent string of hospital spending announcements.

HOME CARE FOR SENIORS

A new personal income tax credit will help offset the cost of certain medical expenses for seniors.

The budget says Ontario’s new senior home care credit will reimburse up to 25 per cent of eligible expenses up to $6,000, for a maximum credit of $1,500.

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The program would begin this tax year and would be available to those who turned 70 or older during the tax year, or who have a spouse of that age, and who are residents of Ontario at the end of the tax year. of the tax year.

TAX RELIEF FOR LOW INCOME

The province promises to increase tax relief for low-income workers and families and increase the number of people eligible for the benefit.

The budget says 1.1 million Ontario taxpayers could save an additional $300 this year, on average, thanks to changes to the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax Credit program.

It says the maximum amount will increase from $850 to $875, and more workers will be eligible, for a total of about 1.7 million beneficiaries.

The province says the expanded credit will provide total tax relief of $320 million.

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HIGHWAY EXPANSION

The government says it will provide $25.1 billion over 10 years to repair, expand and create highways, roads and bridges in various parts of the province.

Projects include a new twin bridge over the Welland Canal on the Queen Elizabeth Way and the widening of Highway 401 in Eastern Ontario from Pickering, Ontario and Oshawa, Ontario.

The province says it will spend nearly $493 million this year to build on previously announced projects in northern Ontario, including the twinning of Highway 17 between Kenora and the Manitoba border and the widening of the route 69 between Parry Sound and Sudbury.

MEASURES FOR DRIVERS

The government says it will change car insurance rules, a new measure for drivers that follows several pre-budget announcements aimed at motorists.

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The budget outlines a plan the province says will give drivers more choice and ensure insurance fairness, while cracking down on fraud.

It says drivers will be able to better customize insurance to their needs and purchase coverage based on vehicle usage.

Some other measures for motorists that are included in the budget were announced before the publication of the document.

These include the waiving of license plate fees and rebates for those who have already paid as well as a temporary elimination of gasoline and fuel taxes.

GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, TORONTO MOVING WORK

Several provincial agencies could leave the Toronto area in a move the government says would save real estate costs and create jobs in other areas.

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The Ontario Public Service will also consider a hybrid working model for employees as part of the same effort, according to the budget.

The OPS is designing and testing co-working spaces in Hamilton, London, Ont., Sudbury, Ont., and Ottawa, with a plan to explore other regional locations in the future, as needed.

The province recently announced it would be looking to move the headquarters of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to London and now says it will consider communities outside of Toronto for d other agencies, including new ones such as Intellectual Property Ontario.

CINEMA, BOOKS AND ANIMATION TAX CREDITS

A series of tax credits designed in the late 1990s to support cultural media are about to be redesigned to reflect current practices and the rise of online production and distribution.

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The budget says film and TV productions distributed exclusively online will be eligible for credit, and the province will remove a rule that limited credits to books with more than 500 print editions published.

The budget says the province will also consider streamlining a credit for computer animation and special effects, and reviewing credits related to increased filming in Ontario communities.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 28, 2022.

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