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On February 25th, Ontario's Minister of Finance Charles Sousa presented the 2016 budget to the Provincial Parliament at Queen's Park. The Minister's speech highlighted education, climate change, and infrastructure as priorities for the government in 2016. This PSD Briefing outlines the contents of the Ontario budget as they pertain to the municipal and wider public sectors.

Education

The Ontario government plans to substantially subsidize college and university tuition. Students that come from families whose household income amounts to less than $50,000 will have no provincial student debt to pay. More than 50 percent of students from families with less than $83,000 in total household income will qualify for non-repayable grants provided by the government.

Infrastructure & Housing

The Ontario government has pledged a total of $137 billion for infrastructure over the next 10 years, which represents a $3 billion increase from the fall economic statement of 2015. This total results in $160 billion over 12 years, making it the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province's history. These investments, according to the government, will support more than 110,000 jobs on average each year. Based on feedback regarding progress in municipal asset management planning, the province will also expand the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) to $300 million per year by 2018-19. The fund is set for relaunch in spring of 2016.

For more details on asset management planning in Ontario, see here.

The government has pledged to make housing more affordable in Ontario. The government presented an investment of $178 million in its affordable housing strategy over the next 3 years.

In addition to infrastructure and housing, Minister Sousa announced a $345 million increase for hospitals, representing the first increase to hospital-based budgets in 5 years.

Climate Change

The Ontario government has introduced a cap-and-trade program on emissions. This program will set a limit on the emissions that companies in Ontario are allowed to emit. All proceeds from the cap-and-trade program will be forwarded to prescribed programs that focus on reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the province.

The complete 2016 Ontario Budget can be found here.