We are pleased to present our comprehensive analysis of the 2024 Ontario Budget, the province’s fiscal roadmap for its economic trajectory in the coming year. As your trusted advisors in navigating the complexities and delicacies of government policy and financial landscape, we recognize the significance of this budget as well as our analysis to provide a nuanced understanding and summary of the policy directions, impacts and strategic imperatives.

 On Tuesday, March 26th, 2024, the Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance, introduced the 2024 Ontario Budget: Building A Better Ontario. As we know, Ontario stands at a critical juncture, facing both unprecedented challenges and opportunities. The 2024 Budget arrives against the backdrop of unparalleled global challenges and transformative local dynamics. The Building a Better Ontario fiscal blueprint promotes a transit-oriented province, emphasizing affordability amid rising costs. The Finance Minister pledged no tax increases while addressing pressing family budget concerns. Despite projections of a significant deficit, investments are promised in infrastructure and social welfare. Housing targets face challenges, but efforts to address the shortage continue. Notably, healthcare initiatives, support for municipalities, and business development are prioritized, along with enhancements in education and childcare.

 The main themes found in this Budget are:

  1.         Building Ontario
  2.         Working For You

 Overall Summary & Highlights

Energy, Mining and Manufacturing

  • An additional $86M over three years to the Northern Energy Advantage Program (NEAP) to help eligible large industrial operators better manage electricity costs as well as create and sustain good jobs in Northern Ontario,
  • Increase of $5M for IESO and Indigenous Energy Support Programs, bringing total annual investment of $15M.
  • Investing an additional $15M to enhance the Critical Minerals Innovation Fund (CMIF) to help exploration, mining, development, production and processing of critical minerals in Ontario.
  • An additional $100M to Invest Ontario for the agency to deploy to strategic investments that encourage innovation and support stronger supply chains in sectors like advanced manufacturing, life sciences and technology.
  • Additional funds to support the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Competitiveness Stream of the Ontario Regional Development Program (RDP).

Infrastructure, Housing, Transit 

  • Ontario has a capital plan of $190B+ over the next 10 years, which includes investing in highways, transit, high-speed internet, housing-enabling and other infrastructure to build communities and municipalities.
  • $1B for the new Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program for infrastructure projects that support new housing builds for growing and developing communities.
  • Enhancing the Housing Enabling Water Systems Fund to a total $825M
  • $200M over three years in the Community Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Fund.
  • The Building Ontario Fund, the new infrastructure bank, has received an allocation of $3B, with a focus in the first year on affordable housing,  LTC homes, energy, and transportation infrastructure projects. 
  • Delivering on the most ambitious plan for hospital expansion in the province’s history, with investments of nearly $50 billion over the next 10 years in health infrastructure, including close to $36 billion in capital grants
  • $620 million over 10 years to allow health care system partners to address urgent infrastructure renewal needs to extend the life of hospital and community infrastructure.

Health, Mental Health & Long-Term Care

  • Establishing the first medical school in Canada that is primarily focused on training family doctors at York University.
  • The government is investing $155 million in 2024–25 to increase funding to fast-track construction of the next tranche of long-term care homes that are to start by November 30, 2024. Eligible projects will receive an additional construction funding subsidy of up to $35 per bed, per day, for 25 years.
  • Helping more people access convenient health care by investing an additional $965 million in operating funding in 2024–25, including through a four per cent increase in total base hospital operations for an unprecedented second year in a row.
  • Connecting approximately 600,000 more people to primary health care through new and expanded interprofessional primary care teams with a total additional investment of $546 million over three years, starting in 2024–25.
  • Investing an additional $2 billion in the home and community care sector to support expansion and increase compensation for frontline workers.
  • Strengthening and growing the health care workforce by investing $743 million over three years to help address immediate health care staffing needs and prepare for the future.
  • Improving mental health and addictions services through an additional investment of $396 million over three years. 
  • The government is investing $45 million over three years to enhance the Northern Health Travel Grant Program.
  • Ontario is providing $12 million to establish a new Health Technology Accelerator Fund to help health care service providers buy and use promising new technologies to improve patient care. 
  • Providing financial support to about 100,000 additional low-income seniors by expanding the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) program and, for the first time in the province’s history, indexing the GAINS benefit to inflation.

Economic & Fiscal Outlook

Reactions

In response to the Ontario 2024 Budget, Opposition parties have emerged with a barrage of criticism, highlighting what they perceive as significant shortcomings and missed opportunities.

Bonnie Crombie, leader of Ontario’s Liberal Party reacts with the following statement: “Doug Ford has no intention of making life better for Ontario families and businesses. He is choosing to undercut out public institutions so he can further his privatization agenda and help his rich insider friends make more money”.

Marit Stiles, leader of the Official Opposition and NDPs, shares her thoughts: “We’ve wasted so much time reversing their bad ideas: from Bill 124 to the Greenbelt grab, to changing municipalities’ official plans… This budget is filled with reannouncements from previous years and previous budgets – staying the course will not help… For everyone in Ontario who is looking for change, this budget isn’t for you. This was an opportunity to deliver better health care and more affordable housing. The gov’t chose to stick to the status quo that has been failing Ontarians.”

Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party, calls it the “budget of NO”, starting: “It says NO to solving the housing crisis.NO to tackling the climate emergency. And NO to repairing the social services we all depend on. We need a government that addresses the challenges we’re facing in Ontario”. 

● Read the 2024 Budget: Building a Better Ontario
● Read highlights of the 2024 Budget
● Read the Backgrounder: Economic and Fiscal Overview
Read the 2023 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Building a Strong Ontario Together