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2016 Ontario Budget: Infrastructure is critical to strengthening economy


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March 1, 2016 by On-Site Magazine

Last week Finance Minister Charles Sousa released the 2016 Ontario Budget: Jobs for Today and Tomorrow, which outlines the next phase of the government’s plan to create jobs and economic growth. The government’s plan is creating good jobs today in communities across Ontario by investing in infrastructure and in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses.

The government’s plan is on track to balance the budget in 2017-18.

In this Budget, the government is investing more than $137 billion over the next 10 years in roads, bridges, public transit, hospitals and schools. That would result in $160 billion over 12 years, starting in 2014-15, which is the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history. These planned investments would support more than 110,000 jobs each year, on average.

The Province remains on track to generate $5.7 billion over time from maximizing the value of government-owned assets — $2.6 billion higher than originally projected in the 2014 Budget. Net revenue gains from the sale of qualifying assets will be dedicated to the Trillium Trust to help fund public transit, transportation and other priority infrastructure.

MAJOR PROJECTS

In transportation, the government will spend $31.5 billion. More than half — $16 billion — is for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Among specific ongoing and upcoming projects named in were the following:

Transportation:

  • Hurontario LRT – a 20-km new LRT line in Mississauga and Brampton. Construction is expected to take place 2018-2022.
  • Hamilton LRT – from McMaster University through downtown Hamilton. The environmental assessement process is expected to be completed in 2017, with construction between 2019-2024.
  • Tolled HOV lanes. A pilot project to charge for travelling in high-occupancy-vehicle lanes will be implemented on 16.5 kilometres of the Queen Elizabeth Way between Oakville and Burlington this summer.
  • Widening Highway 400 going north from Toronto. A stretch of the major artery to Barrie and cottage country, between Major Mackenzie Drive and King Road, will be widened from eight to 10 lanes.
  • An extension of the 407 East project, phase 1 from Pickering to Oshawa and Highway 412, will open this spring.
  • Widening of Highway 410 from Highway 401 to Brampton, creating 10 lanes.
  • A four-lane expansion of Highway 69 south of Sudbury and Highway 11/17 east of Thunder Bay.

Hospitals:

  • New Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital in York Region.
  • New Providence Care Hospital.

Education:

  • $11 billion in capital grants for new schools in areas of high growth, and consolidations of under-used schools in other areas. Currently 200 major capital school projects are under way across the province.
  • Markham campus for 4,000 students as a partnership between York University and Seneca College.
  • Confederation College in Thunder Bay.
  • La Cité collégiale in Ottawa.

The budget notes that according to a September 2015 report by the Broadbent Institute and the Centre for Spatial Economics, “on average, investing a dollar in public infrastructure in Canada raises gross domestic product (GDP) by $1.43 in the short term and up to $3.83 in the long term.”

QUICK FACTS

*   Ontario’s real GDP increased by 2.5 per cent in 2015, outpacing the national average.

*   The Province plans to provide $12 billion over 10 years in capital grants to hospitals to continue building essential infrastructure. Across the province, approximately 35 major hospital projects are under construction or in various stages of planning.

*   The Province is providing $3 billion in capital grants over 10 years to postsecondary institutions to give students access to high-quality programs closer to home and contribute to building a stronger economy.

*   Ontario’s highly educated workforce is one of its greatest strengths. In 2014, 66 per cent of adults in Ontario had a postsecondary credential, up from 56 per cent in 2002 — higher than the rates for any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

*   To receive public input for the 2016 Ontario Budget, the government conducted pre-budget consultations across the province. This included 20 in-person pre-budget sessions in 13 cities with more than 700 people, two telephone town halls reaching more than 52,000 Ontarians, nearly 500 written submissions received and online consultations with more than 6,500 users through the Budget Talks website.


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