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Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19

2020 Economic and Fiscal Update

In an effort to draw full attention to mitigating both the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Ontario has elected to delay the release of its annual Budget.

Instead, on March 25, the government released an economic and fiscal update entitled, “Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID?19,” which provides a one-year economic forecast and the government’s initial response plan to the COVID-19 crisis. The response plan consists of a proposed $17 billion package, with measures intended to complement the federal response.

Note that we can expect a formal Budget no later than November 15, 2020.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY? 

BUSINESS SUPPORTS

The government announced plans to:

  • Defer $6 billion of provincially administered taxes (April 1 to August 31)
  • Defer $1.9 billion of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums and expenses for employers for 6 months
  • Work with municipal partners to defer $1.8 billion in property taxes for 90 days (including the provincial education tax)
  • Postpone the 2021 property tax reassessment
  • Retroactively reduce the Employer Health Tax (EHT) and temporarily increase the exemption from $490,000 to $1 million
  • Help support regions lagging in employment growth with the proposed new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit
  • Support energy affordability for small business, farm, and residential consumers with approximately $5.6 billion towards electricity cost relief programs in 2020-21, an increase of approximately $1.5 billion compared to the 2019 Budget plan

OTHER SUPPORTS

The government announced plans to:

  • Invest an additional $3.3 billion in health care resources beyond what was budgeted last year. This includes:
    • $935 million towards the hospital sector
    • $160 million towards public health funding to support COVID-19 monitoring, surveillance, testing, and Telehealth Ontario
    • $243 million for surge capacity in the long-term care sector
    • $75 million to supply personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to front-line staff
  • Provide $26 million in additional support to Indigenous peoples and communities
  • Help families pay for the extra costs associated with school and daycare closures by providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those under 21 with special needs
  • Double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months
  • Defer loan payments and interest accrual for six months for Ontario Student  Assistance Program (OSAP) borrowers

Read the OCC’s full rapid policy update and read Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update).