TORONTO – Ontario’s minority Liberal government unveiled the 2014-2015 budget on Thursday.
Here are some of the highlights:
— The deficit is expected to rise to $12.5 billion next year from $11.3 billion in 2013-14, before falling to $8.9 billion in 2015-16. The Liberals say they still plan to balance the books by 2017-18.
— Revenues are down almost $1.2 billion from the budget projections for 2013-14 to an estimated $115.6 billion.
— Program spending will grow next year by almost $3 billion.
— Net debt ballooned to $269.2 billion for the year ending March 31 from $252.1 billion the previous year, leaving a debt-to-GDP ratio of 38.9 per cent, which is expected to grow to 40.3 per cent next year.
— A new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan for people without a workplace pension will require contributions from employers and workers of 1.9 per cent of salary. Someone earning $70.000 a year would pay $1,263 into the pension plan and their employer would match that amount. The new plan would be introduced in 2017.
— There will be a new tax rate of 12.16 per cent on income between $150,000 and $220,000. The 13.16 per cent tax rate for incomes above $514,000 will now apply to incomes above $220,000.
— $29 billion over 10 years for public transit, roads, bridges and infrastructure.
— $11.4 billion over 10 years for hospital expansion and redevelopment projects.
— $11 billion over 10 years to repair, upgrade and build new elementary and high schools.
— $2.5 billion over 10 years for a new jobs fund which would give grants to corporations.
— $1 billion to help build a road to the remote Ring of Fire mineral deposit in northern Ontario, but the money is contingent on getting matching funds from the federal government.
— $810 million over three years for community supports for adults with developmental disabilities.
— $294 million for a program that helps prevent homelessness.
— $32 million to expand school breakfast and lunch programs.
— Increasing social assistance rates by one per cent for people on disability supports and welfare.
— Replace the Northern Allowance for people on social assistance with a Remote Communities Allowance adding $50 a month for the first person and $25 a month for each additional family member.
— Hiking the provincial tax on aviation fuel by four cents a litre over four years.
— Increasing the tobacco tax from 12.35 cents a cigarette to 13.975 cents or $3.25 on a carton of 200, but the tax rate on cigars remains unchanged at 56.6 per cent.