This Budget includes $1 billion in new funding for municipal infrastructure in 200708:
These investments will create an estimated 10,000 jobs during construction and will build on recent initiatives including the $450 million Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative (MIII), a program that enabled municipalities to apply for funding for their own highest-priority projects.
Municipalities will also have the opportunity to potentially benefit from the proposed Investing in Ontario Act (see Chapter II: Ontarios Economic Outlook and Fiscal Plan).
Municipal roads and bridges are essential components of Ontarios transportation network as they connect communities, and provide access to economic opportunities. In this Budget a new $400 million Municipal Roads and Bridges Fund will help municipalities invest in critical projects across the province. Funding will be distributed to municipalities outside Toronto, based on their share of Ontarios road network in relation to population. This new investment builds on the success of a similar investment announced in the 2006 Budget.
The Province is investing $450 million in 200708 in the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative, the combined total of $300 million announced in the 2007 Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review and $150 million announced at the 2008 Ontario Good Roads Association/Rural Ontario Municipal Association (OGRA/ROMA) conference. These investments will help communities across the province improve their infrastructure including roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems, and community facilities.
The Province is helping municipalities invest in local roadways designated as Connecting Links, which are specifically designated municipal roads that connect provincial highways. In 2006–07, the program invested $16 million to fund 37 projects and the 2007 Budget announced an additional one-time investment of $25 million to assist with municipal road improvements. In this Budget, the Province is investing $16 million to fund 35 projects.
Effective and expanded public transit will reduce traffic congestion and make it easier and faster to move people and goods, cut smog and provide cleaner air to breathe, help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and support sustainable urban development, which lead to stronger communities and a higher quality of life.
In this Budget the government is announcing its commitment to provide funding for all of Metrolinxs recommended Quick Win projects. (See Table 1, Metrolinx Transit Projects.)
With the transit commitments in this Budget, the Province will have funded one-third of the cost of 360 new subway cars for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and the infrastructure needed to improve capacity on the Yonge subway.
|Hamilton||B-Line Improvements, King-Main Corridor||17.4|
|A-Line Improvements, James-Upper James Corridor with service to Hamilton International Airport||12.4|
|James Street North GO/VIA Station Gateway to Niagara||3.0|
|Peel||Dundas and Hurontario Higher-Order Transit Corridor Development||26.5|
|Mississauga Transitway Hub, Airport-Renforth Gateway||39.0|
|Bolton GO Transit Improvements||0.6|
|Halton||Dundas Street Bus Rapid Transit||57.6|
|York||VIVA Highway 7 – Pine Valley Drive to Kennedy Road||52.0|
|VIVA Yonge Street – Richmond Hill Centre to 19th Avenue||19.0|
|VIVA Yonge Street – 19th Avenue to Newmarket||29.0|
|Durham||Highway 2 Bus Rapid Transit Spine||82.3|
|Toronto||TTC Transit City Light Rail Transit (LRT) Head Start||7.1|
|Yonge Subway Capacity Improvements||293.0|
|Yonge Finch-Steeles Bus Rapid Transit||5.7 1|
|Inter-Regional||Bicycle Expansion: New bicycle-carrying devices on municipal transit vehicles and bicycle-storage spaces at stations across the GO Transit network||5.0|
|GO Transit Rail Fleet Expansion: 20 additional bi-level passenger coaches for the GO Lakeshore Corridor||60.0|
|GO Transit Double-Decker Buses: 10 new double-decker commuter buses for the Highway 407-403 Corridor, and to York University||9.0|
|GO Track Expansion: New passing-track sections for the GO Bradford and GO Stouffville corridors||20.0|
To move people and goods more efficiently, the government recently announced the MoveOntario 2020 rapid-transit action plan for the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton. This multi-year, $17.5 billion investment proposes 52 projects that will result in 902 kilometres of new or improved rapid transit and is expected to create more than 175,000 jobs during construction.
The Province is committed to providing $11.5 billion of the funding for MoveOntario 2020 projects, and has called on the federal government to provide a minimum of $6 billion. For the plan to achieve its full potential, new long-term federal funding support will be required that goes beyond the infrastructure initiatives announced in recent federal budgets.
As part of MoveOntario 2020, the government will be expanding GO Transit service east of Oshawa.
Metrolinx is preparing a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) for the GTHA, which will aim to improve the coordination and integration of all modes of transportation in the region. The RTP will also include Metrolinxs recommendations on MoveOntario 2020 in particular, the selection, prioritization and timing of projects in the plan.
To improve seamless transit service across the GTA, the Province also supports the introduction of PRESTO, the new regional fare card.
The Province will continue to provide gas tax revenues to public transit, for a total of $314 million in 2008, which will be distributed to 86 transit systems serving 108 communities across the province. The Ontario Bus Replacement Program is also helping municipal transit systems acquire newer and more accessible bus fleets.
In addition to its investments, the government is making transit planning more efficient through plans to reduce the provincial environmental assessment process for transit projects to six months.
GO Transit is an integral part of the transportation system in the Greater Toronto Area, City of Hamilton, and Simcoe, Dufferin and Wellington counties, and moves more than 48 million passengers every year. In 2007, GO Transit opened two new stations: Lisgar and Barrie South. The Budget includes new funding for infrastructure investments in GO Transit. These investments will improve services, modernize infrastructure and help address concerns raised in the Auditor Generals 2007 Annual Report.
Key investments include:
In addition, the Province remains committed to transit improvements in the City of Ottawa in cooperation with municipal and federal partners. The Province will review the recently released vision for public transit in Ottawa and assess next steps with the City and federal government. The government remains committed to investing $200 million in transit in Ottawa.
Waterloo Region is one of Ontarios fastest-growing and most innovative communities. The government is committed to working with its municipal, regional and federal partners to complete technical studies and an environmental assessment for a new rapid-transit system there and to supporting up to two-thirds of the project cost.
The Province is investing $450 million in 200708 in the MIII, consisting of $300 million announced in the 2007 Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review and $150 million announced at the 2008 OGRA/ROMA conference. The MIII builds on last years successful Rural Infrastructure Investment Initiative (RIII). The eligibility criteria of the MIII have also been expanded: 462 municipalities and Local Service Boards applied for MIII, compared to 358 for RIII. Under MIII, municipalities were able to apply for one infrastructure project based on their own priorities. Over 80 per cent of the applications were for roads and bridges, water and wastewater, and culture and recreation projects. Grants will be announced by March 31, 2008.
In this Budget a new investment of $100 million is being provided to rehabilitate existing social housing units, including improving their energy efficiency.
The government intends to expand OSIFA loan eligibility to include key public-sector social housing providers. They would be able to access up to $500 million in low-cost loans to assist them in making necessary social housing infrastructure investments. The Province will also work with social housing experts to improve asset management in the sector.
Progress is well underway on the Provinces plan to create more affordable housing options for families and individuals across Ontario. Under the 2005 CanadaOntario Affordable Housing Program, the Province has committed $301 million to create new rental and supportive housing and to help families and individuals with lower incomes purchase new homes.
The new $450 million MIII is expected to provide significant funding for municipal water and wastewater projects.
Last years RIII program provided $56 million in response to water and wastewater project applications. The government, along with its federal partner, is investing nearly $380 million in water and wastewater systems in 60 municipalities through the CanadaOntario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund. Infrastructure Ontarios OSIFA loan program has committed $1.1 billion to municipal water and wastewater projects since 2003.
Infrastructure Ontario is responsible for managing the delivery of the Provinces Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) projects and for administering loans to municipalities and other organizations for infrastructure investments.
In addition to the expansion of Infrastructure Ontarios OSIFA loan program to key public social housing providers, Local Services Boards and Ontarios not-for-profit public professional arts training institutions would also be eligible for loans.
To date, the OSIFA loan program has committed to providing almost $2.8 billion in low-cost, long-term financing to almost 200 municipalities and other public-sector entities. Of the $1.6 billion advanced to date, nearly 700 infrastructure projects have been initiated to support priorities such as clean water, sewage treatment, waste management, road and bridge improvements, teaching and learning facilities, and recreational and sport facilities.
International trade is integral to Ontarios and Canadas economic prosperity. The government is committed to ensuring efficient and uninterrupted trade with the United States through Ontarios borders, gateways and trade corridors.
The government is working with federal and U.S. partners on a strategy to develop a new border crossing and associated infrastructure at the WindsorDetroit Gateway. This initiative, the Detroit River International Crossing Study, is expected to provide recommendations in the spring of 2008 on a new transportation system to provide safe, efficient, secure and uninterrupted movement of people and goods across the CanadaU.S. border. This would support the local economy of the WindsorEssex region, the provincial and state economies of Ontario and Michigan, and the national economies of Canada and the United States.
The recommendations are expected to address the location and design of a new river crossing, access road and customs plaza. The federal government is leading the development of the new river crossing and customs plaza and has earmarked an initial $400 million towards a commitment to fund 50 per cent of the total eligible capital costs of the access-road projects.
As part of the environmental assessment process, the work to select a preferred alternative for the access road is about to conclude. It is anticipated that construction will begin in 2009. Ontario will fully fund its share of the costs of the final proposed road link between Highway 401 and the new border crossing. Sufficient funds to cover the costs of the project are built into the governments 10-year infrastructure plan. Construction on the project, which is the most important infrastructure undertaking in Canada and the United States, will also create thousands of jobs in Windsor. Further details will be announced in coming weeks.
This project will include unprecedented features to enhance the quality of life for people in the WindsorEssex region while ensuring that traffic keeps moving.
This Budget includes new funding of $448 million over the next five years to accelerate projects to rehabilitate bridges that are part of the provincial highway network. This investment is expected to result in improvements to over 100 bridges in addition to those expected as part of ReNew Ontario.
Through the five-year ReNew Ontario infrastructure plan, the government is investing over $3.4 billion to improve the provincial highway network in southern Ontario and $1.8 billion in northern Ontario. In 200809, the government will invest $927 million in the Southern Ontario Highways Program and $557 million in the Northern Ontario Highways Program.
A number of new projects to improve highway safety in northern Ontario are also being added to ReNew Ontario. Projects will proceed on key corridors, including Highway 17 east and west of Thunder Bay; the Thunder Bay Expressway; Highway 17 around North Bay; and Highway 11 north of North Bay. This work will result in the addition of new passing lanes, intersection and curve improvements, illumination and variable message signs. Another new project includes capacity improvements to Highway 17 near Arnprior in eastern Ontario to address growing traffic and enhance safety.
The Province is making good progress on its plan to complete the extension of Highway 407 eastward from Brock Road in Pickering to Highway 35/115 in Clarington by 2013. Work related to the environmental assessment process, including route design, is underway.
Strong, vibrant rural and northern communities are important to Ontarios economic success and quality of life. These regions have great potential to contribute to Ontarios innovative new economy, but they also face unique challenges that require a focused and coordinated response. That is why the government is working with communities and stakeholders to give them the opportunities and tools they need to embark on a prosperous future.
The 2007 Budget announced the appointment of Dr. Robert Rosehart as the Northwestern Ontario Economic Facilitator to work with local people and businesses to inspire a new generation of growth in the region. The government wishes to thank Dr. Rosehart for his hard work and looks forward to studying his report and recommendations.
In addition to investments in education and health care, this Budget announces $508.7 million in strategic initiatives over four years to create opportunities in northern communities and secure the regions place in Ontarios new economy. These initiatives include:
This Budget accelerates Business Education Tax (BET) rate cuts for northern businesses announced in the 2007 Budget. Business Education Tax rates will be reduced more quickly in 85 northern municipalities, benefiting more than 30,000 businesses of all sizes. This will ensure that northern businesses will benefit from the full BET reduction by 2010, four years earlier than originally announced. Northern businesses will benefit from total BET savings of more than $70 million over the next three years.
The government is also working with First Nations and northern stakeholders on a Growth Plan for Northern Ontario. The plan will focus on achieving and sustaining growth, and creating economic and lifestyle opportunities to live, work and raise families in the north.
To further enhance opportunities for growth and support a high quality of life in Ontarios rural communities, this Budget announces:
Led by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the government is also working with stakeholders to develop the Eastern Ontario Development Fund. Through this fund, the government will provide support for business investment and economic development in the region. In addition, rural communities will benefit from initiatives to support key sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture and forestry, and from Ontarios commitment to develop the bio-economy.
On February 25, 2008, the government announced it will invest a further $150 million in the existing $300 million MIII. The MIII provides municipalities across Ontario, outside Toronto, with funding to build and repair roads, bridges and other public facilities.
Rural communities will also benefit from the new $400 million Municipal Roads and Bridges Fund.
These new initiatives build on existing investments in rural health care, education, infrastructure, support for key industries and new economic opportunities.
PARTNERSHIPS WITH MUNICIPALITIES
The government has entered into agreements with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the City of Toronto that formalize the principle of consultation with the municipal sector. These agreements commit the Province and municipalities to work together in a relationship of mutual respect, ongoing consultation and cooperation on matters of mutual interest.
Through the Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review, the government is working with municipalities to develop affordable and sustainable ways to fund and deliver services for Ontarios communities.
The Reviews main goal is to create a sustainable provincialmunicipal relationship where both levels of government can meet their responsibilities. It is focusing on:
The Reviews consensus-based public report is expected in the spring of 2008.
The government has made historic investments in municipalities and municipal partnerships. This has meant ongoing and increasing funding support for municipal operating costs; uploading costs that previous governments downloaded; and supporting municipal capital needs.
Since 2003, the Province has more than doubled its support to municipal operating budgets. In 2008, this amounts to $2.2 billion in ongoing operating support to municipalities.
The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) assists municipalities with their social program costs, includes equalization measures, addresses challenges faced by northern and rural communities, and responds to policing costs in rural communities. It will transfer $870 million in 2008 41 per cent or $252 million more than 2004 transfers under the previous program.
Two cents per litre of the Provincial Gas Tax has been made available to municipalities annually for public transit. In 2008, $314 million is being distributed to transit systems that provide service in 108 communities across the province, for a total of more than $1.6 billion by 2010 since the program began.
The Provinces share of public health funding increased from 50 per cent in 2004 to 75 per cent in 2007.
Since 2006, the government has made an additional investment in land ambulance services of just over $300 million, meeting the commitment of moving to 50/50 funding of existing levels of land ambulance service by 2008.
The Province is phasing out Greater Toronto Area (GTA) pooling, which will eliminate a $200 million burden from the municipal property tax bases of contributing GTA municipalities. Under this plan, the Province is uploading responsibility for social assistance and social housing costs currently funded under the program.
In August 2007, the Premier announced an unprecedented upload of social program costs. The government uploaded the municipal share of the cost of the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program in January 2008 and will begin uploading the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) in 2009. By the time it is fully implemented in 2011, the upload will save municipalities over $900 million a year.
As a result of these investments, by 2011 the Province will have increased ongoing annual operating support to municipalities to $2.8 billion an increase of more than $1.7 billion, or 160 per cent, compared to 2003.
The governments actions to support municipalities include:
In the 2007 Budget, the government announced a $540 million cut to high BET rates over seven years lowering high BET rates to a target maximum rate of 1.60 per cent. Business Education Tax reductions are key elements in the governments overall strategy to enhance Ontarios investment climate.
This initiative will also reduce the wide variation in BET rates across the province. The variation in rates distorts efficient business location decisions placing many regions of Ontario at a disadvantage.
This Budget announces an accelerated plan for BET reductions in northern Ontario. The accelerated BET reductions will ensure that northern businesses will benefit from the full BET reduction by 2010, four years earlier than originally announced.
Northern businesses are defined as those that lie within any of the following districts: Algoma, Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timiskaming.
The accelerated BET reduction plan recognizes the unique challenges faced by northern businesses and responds to recent recommendations made by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and others. In future years, consideration will be given to accelerating BET reductions in other parts of the province should the fiscal plan allow.
Accelerating BET reductions in northern Ontario will benefit more than 30,000 businesses of all sizes in 85 municipalities. Northern businesses will benefit from total BET savings of more than $70 million over the next three years. The BET reductions will improve the competitive position of northern Ontario businesses, create new jobs and strengthen the provincial economy overall.
Since 2003, Ontario has become one of North Americas leading jurisdictions in protecting its air, water, green space and wilderness. Ontarians want to enjoy a clean and safe environment, explore nature, breathe clean air and drink clean water. Improving Ontarios environment not only improves Ontarians quality of life, but also helps keep them healthy. An updated regulatory framework, introduction of waste-diversion programs and development of green technologies are key elements in addressing environmental challenges and building sustainable communities.
The government is making investments to protect Ontarians health by taking action on toxic substances:
This Budget includes a series of initiatives to improve the governments ability to protect Ontarios environment and promote environmental education: