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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: April 28, 2022

Ontario releases 2022 budget, Canada had 826,500 unfilled jobs in February, and more.

This update was delayed to include details of the Government of Ontario’s budget announcement.

In this edition:

Ontario releases 2022 Budget
Ontario Budget News Roundup
Canada had 826,500 unfilled jobs in February

Government of Ontario releases 2022 budget

The Government of Ontario has tabled its budget, which will form part of its platform for this year’s provincial elections. The budget contains significant investments in healthcare, worker training, and infrastructure, especially highways. Low-income families and seniors will also see some new perks, and future homebuyers and renters may see some relief if a pledge to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years is delivered.

Highlights include:

  • The provincial deficit will be $18.9-billion in 2022-23, up $5.4-billion from the most recent fiscal year. This is the result of spending increases to the tune of over five per cent over the next three years.
  • The government is forecasting revenue growth of 4% per year, and aims to have the books balanced by 2027-28.
  • The government has abandoned a plan to cut income taxes by 20%, and instead opted to raise the annual income eligibility requirement for the Low-income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) credit from $38,500 to $50,000.
  • A new Ontario Seniors Care at Home Tax Credit for seniors aged 70 and older would grant up to 25 per cent of their medical expenses for a maximum credit of $1,500.
  • $25.1-billion will be spent on highways over 10 years, including the QEW Garden City Skyway rehabilitation project and a new bridge over the Welland Canal.
  • Health care infrastructure spending will increase by $10 billion over the next 10 years.
  • The province will invest $764 million over two years to provide nurses with a $5,000 retention bonus.
  • A total of $1 billion will be spent on retraining and reskilling programs, such as $114.4 million over three years for the Skills Trades Strategy program, $268.5 million over three years for Employment Ontario, and $5 million to the Better Jobs Ontario training program.
  • $14-billion will be granted to capital grants for schools over the next 10 years. The Globe and Mail reports that the Toronto District School Board’s repairs backlog alone is around $3.7-billion and this figure is inadequate.
  • An additional $15.1 million over three years in the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP).
  • A 5.7 cents per litre cut to the gasoline tax for six months starting July 1, and removing tolls on Highways 412 and 418.
  • More than $12 billion in new investment for new vehicle production and battery manufacturing.
  • Tax and red tape reductions totaling $8.9 billion to support employees and small businesses.
  • $61 billion in capital over 10 years for public transit, including building subways in the GTA and expanding the GO Transit network.
  • The previously-announced cancellation of license plate fees will cost the government $1.8 billion per year, $800 million more than was suggested when the initial announcement was made.

Click here to read more.

Ontario Budget News Roundup

CTV News: Ontario 2022 budget includes new measures for seniors, low-income workers

Ontario’s deficit will rise this year to $19.9 billion, with the Ford government enacting new measures for seniors, low-income workers and auto commuters in a budget that holds out hope the province can return to balance in time for the next provincial election in 2026.

The deficit for the fiscal year that ended last month is down from an estimated $21.5 billion in the 2021 Fall Economic Statement and $33.1 billion in 2021 budget to $13.5 billion.

But asked four separate times whether he would actually pass the budget presented Thursday if the PCs win the June 2 election, Bethlenfalvy was less clear.

“What I will commit to the people of Ontario that this is our plan. This is the budget that we’re tabling and we’ll get the people of Ontario to vote on that budget. And I have full confidence in the people of Ontario that they will pass this budget.”

Globe and Mail: Ontario budget 2022 highlights: What you need to know about health care, highways and education

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government released the 2022 budget Thursday, detailing its spending plans if re-elected to another term in June. Much of the budget rehashes commitments made by the government in recent months, including a planned 50-cent increase to the minimum wage in October.

Titled “Ontario’s Plan to Build,” the budget introduced by Ontario Finance Minister Pether Bethlenfalvy focuses on driving economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by investing in the construction of highways, transit infrastructure and hospitals across the province. Here are the highlights.

Toronto Star: Ontario Tories try to cater to drivers with measures in election budget

Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives want to tweak auto insurance rules to allow more choice, ensure fairness and crack down on fraud.

The broad plans are outlined in the government’s annual budget tabled Thursday, a document that doubles as the Tory platform for the spring election campaign expected to kick off next week.

The auto insurance proposal is one of several budget goodies aimed at drivers, many of which had been previously announced and include a move to cancel licence plate fees and send rebates to drivers who already paid for them. Thursday’s budget revealed those rebates will cost the government $1.8 billion this year.

CBC News: Doug Ford’s latest Ontario budget arrives today — days before election kicks off

Premier Doug Ford’s government is set to release this year’s Ontario budget on Thursday afternoon — but it’s not a typical budget.

Ontarians should instead look at the document as a costed election platform from Ford’s Progressive Conservatives, something the party didn’t produce before winning a majority government in the 2018 election.

Ford’s government won’t pass this financial plan for the province. There’s just not enough time for it to pass through the process before next Wednesday, when the Legislature is dissolved and the election campaign officially begins.

If the PCs are re-elected on June 2, they’ll be able to bring this budget back to the legislature and pass it then.

Global News: Doug Ford banking on billions in deficit spending as PCs table pre-election budget

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is banking on billions of dollars in infrastructure spending to get him re-elected to a second term in office, relying on continued deficits to fuel campaign promises.

The Ford government tabled “Ontario’s Plan to Build” on Thursday, a 241-page, $198 billion document that serves both as a provincial budget and an election platform for the PC party.

With the PCs enjoying a lead in public polling ahead of the June 2 election, the budget provided few surprises that weren’t pre-announced by Ford’s cabinet and the premier himself in recent weeks.

It also painted an optimistic picture of Ontario’s economic outlook – projecting tax revenue to steadily increase, program spending to increase even more, and the province’s books to slowly get back to balance after significant COVID-driven deficits.

Financial Post: Ontario budget promises billions for infrastructure, critical minerals; could eliminate deficit sooner than expected

In a budget delivered just over a month before voters head to the polls, in what amounts to an election platform, the Ontario government is promising to invest billions of dollars during the next three to five years to shore up infrastructure, boost the supply of critical minerals and commercialize promising technologies.

Despite the spending, the government said the economic recovery plan laid out Thursday could eliminate Ontario’s deficit two years earlier than projected in the 2021 budget.

Bloomberg: Ontario’s Ford Hits Pause on Deficit-Cutting as Election Looms

Ontario will see its budget deficit rise this fiscal year as the economy slows and the government increases spending to help lower-income workers ahead of a June election.

Canada’s most populous province is forecasting a budget shortfall of C$19.9 billion ($15.5 billion) for the current fiscal year, up from C$13.5 billion in the year that ended March 31, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said Thursday in his annual budget.

Ontario, which accounts for about 40% of the Canada’s gross domestic product, is heading to a June 2 vote that may be a referendum on Premier Doug Ford’s handling of the pandemic and the economic recovery. Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party holds a sizable lead in polls, according to public opinion tracker 338 Canada, but the official campaign has yet to begin.

National Post: With 2022 budget, Ontario PCs aim to be the Pragmatic Conservative Party

The good news about Ontario’s new budget is that it’s not packed with surprise goodies and giveaways designed to buy votes. That’s a commendable level of restraint in a pre-election budget.

Instead, the PC budget is laden with already-announced plans for economic growth, job training and infrastructure spending. The document is entitled Ontario’s Plan to Build, and that’s exactly what it is.

Not that the budget is entirely gimmick-free. Familiar affordability measures get a nod, with the licence plate refund and the temporary gas tax reduction leading the list. The government is also touting the seven separate programs that protect Ontarians from having to paying the real price of electricity.

Canada had 826,500 unfilled jobs in February

At the start of February 2022, employers were actively recruiting for an estimated 826,500 vacant positions, little changed from January.

The number of vacant positions was down 16.4% (-161,800) from the record high reached in September 2021 (988,300), but was 61.2% higher (+313,700) than during the first quarter of 2020, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were 115,200 vacant positions in accommodation and food services in February, up 22.6% (+21,200) from January, coinciding with the easing of public health restrictions in many provinces.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce stated that a critical ingredient in solving this issue will be reforming Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program. “We now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to crack this stale nut wide open,” said Leah Nord, Senior Director of Workforce Strategies and Inclusive Growth at the Canadian Chamber.

Click here to read more.

Reading Recommendations

Why even falling prices won’t make housing affordable any time soon

CBC News

Canada’s red-hot housing market is finally showing signs that it may be cooling. Sales volumes and listings have fallen as interest rates have started to rise. But even a dramatic drop in prices won’t put home ownership back into reach for many of those priced out of the market.

The home price index compiled by National Bank shows the national average soared 31.2 per cent in the two years since COVID-19 crashed into the world. Economist Daren King says, over the pandemic, demand has skyrocketed and supply has fallen leading to some record-setting statistics.

“Vertiginous price increases have been recorded in many cities included in the index over the past two years, including a 65 per cent increase in Halifax, 55.4 per cent in Hamilton and 39.8 per cent in Ottawa-Gatineau,” he wrote in a report.

Click here to read more.

Update on Ukraine

Canada lawmakers vote unanimously to label Russia’s acts in Ukraine as ‘genocide’


Canadian lawmakers voted unanimously on Wednesday to call Russia’s attacks in Ukraine a “genocide”, with members of parliament saying there was “ample evidence of systemic and massive war crimes against humanity” being committed by Moscow.

The Canadian House of Commons’ motion said war crimes by Russia include mass atrocities, systematic instances of willful killing of Ukrainian civilians, the desecration of corpses, forcible transfer of Ukrainian children, torture, physical harm, mental harm, and rape.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was “absolutely right” for more and more people to describe Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide, supporting an accusation made by U.S. President Joe Biden a day earlier.

Click here to read more.

Through the Daily Updates, the GNCC aims to deliver important business news in a timely manner. We disseminate all news and information we feel will be important to businesses. Inclusion in the Daily Update is not an endorsement by the GNCC.

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