Ontario Budget Highlights: What You Should Know

Ontario Budget Highlights 2016

Attention Ontario taxpayers – will you be affected by the new budget? The Ontario Liberals tabled their 2016-2017 provincial budget on Thursday to much fanfare – and it was full of goodies for taxpayers, along with a few surprises.

Check out our breakdown of the Ontario budget highlights – and whether they’ll save you some cash.

Free Tuition for Low-Income Students

One of the biggest newsmakers is free tuition for low-income students. The Liberals are cutting red tape and simplifying the process of applying for financial aid to cover the rising cost of post-secondary education, and are introducing a new Ontario Student Grant. Students from families earnings $50,000 or less a year will be eligible for a grant that will cover tuition fees. That’s not all – half of students from families earning $83,000 or less a year will qualify for grants. In the end, the Liberals say no student will end up with less grant money than they’re currently receiving.

The Canadian Federation of Students applauds the move to make post-secondary education more affordable and accessible for all students.

“Before, we were really penalizing low-income and marginalized students, forcing them to take on loans and to pay interest and effectively paying more for their education than students who could afford it up front,” said Ontario spokesman Rajean Hoilett.

Related Read: Are Canadian Students in Debt Denial?>

Gas Costs to Rise for Drivers

While students have lots to smile about, drivers have one more reason for road rage; gas prices are to rise by 4.3 cents per litre in 2017. The price increase is part of the province’s efforts to reduce emissions by 15 per cent. They’ll be rolling out a cap-and-trade program for businesses, and adding a surcharge on fuel costs. The hike is expected to cost drivers roughly $10 – $13 per more per month, and homeowners $5 monthly on fuel and natural gas prices.

Savings Tip: Offset your fuel costs with the best gas rewards credit cards in Canada>

Low-Income Seniors to Benefit

The budget includes big changes for seniors – but it’s a good news / bad news story depending on income. Low-income seniors are catching a break on rising drug costs, while the co-pay and deductible are rising for middle-income seniors. In fact, some seniors will see their yearly deductible go up by 70 per cent.

However, under the budget, more seniors will qualify for the Ontario Drug Benefit program, as the income threshold is raising to $19,300 from $16,018 for single seniors and $32,300 from $24,175 for couple seniors. While the co-pay per dug will remain at $2 for low-income seniors, for middle-income seniors the deductible will rise to $170 from $100 and the co-pay will increase to $7.11.

Ontario’s Mounting Debt

Ontario’s ballooning debt continues to be a major concern. The net debt of the Heartland Province will reach a whopping $308 billion in 2016-17, the largest of any sub-national jurisdiction in the world. With a deficit of $5.7 billion, the 2016-17 budget will mark the ninth straight budget in the red. Despite being on track to reach a balanced budget ahead of schedule by 2017-18, Ontario is set to fork over $13.1 billion in interest payments in 2018-19.

Ontario’s record level debt-to-GDP ratio has led to a credit downgrade with debt rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service. The ratio currently sits at 39.6 percent for 2015-16 and is expected to remain near 40 percent, only starting to decline in 2017-18 once the budget is balanced. The provincial Liberal’s goal is to get the ratio back to its pre-recession level of 27 percent, although it’s currently nowhere near that level. Only time will tell if the Liberals can fulfil that election promise.

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4 thoughts on “Ontario Budget Highlights: What You Should Know

  1. Nothing will be done with the gas tax grab, it will go in to the pockets of the government to extend more of their silly spending. ITs the same as giving a spoiled child, MORE MONEY. Governments just keep on spending our money with no consequence. look around the world. bigger things to come with these children at the helm…….

  2. Liberals are sending Ontario and Canada into bankruptcy. Which is what they support anyway I guess, why work, if you are lazy you get everything for free. If you work hard and get ahead you get to give more to the Liberals so they can give it to the ones who don’t want to work.

  3. I think we should wait and see if our air is cleaner and the economy improves with new technologies from the environment sector improvements. We have been slowly poisoning ourselves building bigger and bigger engines to go faster and faster. Only the police should have cars that travel over 120 km. Somebody is building a car right now for 2.6 million that will go 400 km for what? Put this money into environment technology to improve what we grow, what we eat, what we breath. Once you loose your health or the natural resources of the planet have been contaminated beyond repair only then will some realize just how important these things are. I drive a car, I put about 10,000km a year on my car mostly because my broken back and neck are so bad but I would like to find somebody to share a car every second month and I would try riding my bike and taking the bus to do my part and get one less car off the road. I would call this auto partnering or sharing. It will be painful for me to get on my bike but it will be beautiful to smell the clean air if I can find it. I also have hyper chemical sensitivity a reconstructed face and a head injury and I have mental challenges such as depression Some people don’t realize how lucky they are to have lived a health free life. I would like to set up Social Enterprises right across this country to get people that have been left out to get involved in everything from year round greenhouses to grow there food for us locally so we don’t have to transport it from all over the world. I do realize that we cannot eliminate shipping food and good altogether be I would like to get growing 10 % more each and every year. I volunteer all over the city to try and make a small difference in my community so that the children of my country will have a better place to live after I have left this planet. Charles Black

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