Ontario will spend additional $17 billion to fight the coronavirus
- Author: Ismael Montgomery Mar 27, 2020,
Mar 27, 2020, 0:28
Ontario's $17-billion action plan is just supposed to be a "first step", but it will be in addition to the $82-billion aid package the federal government has already outlined, and on top of the closing of non-essential businesses and other restrictions that have been announced.
"As Finance Minister, my number one priority right now is ensuring that our front-line health care professionals have the resources they need to fight the COVID-19 outbreak", said Finance Minister Rod Phillips in a release issued by the province.
Providing $10 billion to support improved cash flow for people and businesses during COVID-19 outbreak.
The spending package includes a $1-billion contingency fund, almost $1 billion for hospitals, and more personal protective equipment for frontline workers.
The spending boost includes a $1-billion COVID-19 contingency fund, almost $1 billion more for hospitals, and more personal protective equipment for front-line workers.
Phillips says Ontario will see a $20.5-billion deficit in 2020-2021 due to COVID-19.
As a result of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government is planning for a deficit of $20.5 billion in 2020-21.
Speaking on Thursday afternoon after the new cases were announced, Ontario health officials confirmed the increase to the number of deaths in the province, while stating that 29 patients are now receiving intensive care in hospital.
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Meanwhile, private-sector firms with annual remuneration of less than $5 million will see an exemption to an employer health tax double this year to $1 million of payroll, cutting approximately $355 million in tax.
"During this global pandemic, I want the people of Ontario to be focused on their health - not worrying about losing their job or how to make ends meet as they deal with unexpected additional expenses", said Minister Phillips.
Increasing public health funding by $160 million to support COVID-19 monitoring and testing, including investments in virtual care and Telehealth Ontario.
Other incentives include a drop in hydro bills through off-peak hours pricing for 45 days and 6 months of payment and interest relief for from the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). That's been ongoing for nearly two weeks... Phillips has also committed to releasing a full multi-year budget by November 15, 2020.
On Tuesday, Theresa Tam, the country's chief public health officer, said more than half of reported COVID-19 cases in Canada are now from community spread. Instead, a case will be marked resolved if the infected person feels fine after a two-week isolation period.
The economic plan contains unusually high levels of reserves and contingencies in order to weather future shocks, including the $1-billion COVID-19 contingency fund, a $1.3-billion general contingency fund and what Phillips calls an "unprecedented" $2.5-billion reserve.
Net debt to gross domestic product is estimated to be 41.7%, up from 40.1% previously expected.