: 2011 Ontario Budget: STRONG EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE SUPPORT A STRONG ECONOMY

March 29, 2011

The McGuinty government’s Open Ontario plan to make Ontario more competitive is working. The 2011 Budget introduces initiatives that will continue to build a strong economy that creates jobs while protecting education and health care. A well-educated and healthy workforce strengthens Ontario’s economy and attracts investment and jobs.

This budget outlines new investments to create jobs, help farmers, support new spaces in colleges and universities, expand breast cancer screening, improve mental health services for children and enhance pharmacy services, including for seniors.

JOBS AND GROWTH

Ontario’s economy is improving and jobs are returning. Statistics Canada confirms that the province has recovered 91 per cent of the jobs lost during the recession, compared to 14.5 per cent in the United States. Eighty-four per cent of the jobs recovered are full time.

A more competitive business climate is creating more jobs and higher incomes for people. Measures in Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth are strengthening business investment and creating jobs. Investments by the private sector in infrastructure, machinery and equipment rose to $78.3 billion in 2010, a 7.4 per cent increase over 2009.

Modern public infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and roads, is a key foundation of a prosperous economy. Public infrastructure investments create jobs and provide significant economic benefits over the longer term. By the end of 2010–11, Ontario will have invested $62 billion in infrastructure since 2003; created and preserved more than 80,000 jobs on average per year; built more than 400 new schools; started or completed construction on more than 100 major hospital projects; and expanded or rehabilitated more than 5,500 kilometres of highways.

Building on these substantial investments, over the next three years, the province plans to invest more than $35 billion in infrastructure, including $12.8 billion in 2011–12.  These investments are expected to create and preserve more than 300,000 jobs.

Strong Infrastructure Investment

Over the next few weeks, Ontario and innovative private-sector partners will be announcing new investments of over $1.3 billion, including nearly $175 million from the province, creating more than 2,100 jobs and retaining nearly 7,800 jobs.

Ontario is a leader in clean and sustainable technologies. Public and private investments in clean, renewable energy and conservation have increased as a result of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009. More than 30 clean energy manufacturers have announced plans to set up or expand operations in Ontario since the act was proclaimed in September 2009, creating new jobs over the next two years.

The 2011 Budget is helping cattle, hog, sheep and veal farmers by implementing a new Risk Management Program, and a Self-Directed Risk Management Program for the edible horticulture sector.

PROTECTING EDUCATION

Ontario has long recognized the importance of a well-educated workforce that can compete in the global economy and attract international investment. Ontarians with higher levels of knowledge and skills have better employment prospects, earn higher wages, are engaged citizens and are less dependent on government supports during their working lives. That is why education, ranging from full-day kindergarten to postsecondary, remains a top priority for the Ontario government.

Full-Day Kindergarten

A full day of learning early in life makes the transition to Grade 1 easier for both parents and children. As well, students who achieve early success in school are more likely to perform well in school later and go on to postsecondary education.

This September, full-day kindergarten will be available in an additional 200 schools, benefiting up to 50,000 children. Currently, nearly 600 schools offer full-day kindergarten for up to 35,000 children. It will be fully implemented, available in every school, in September 2014.

Postsecondary Education and Training

Through the Open Ontario plan, the government will ensure a college or university space is available for every qualified Ontario student. The government’s goal is to raise the province’s postsecondary attainment rate to 70 per cent.

The 2011 Budget will help create more than 60,000 additional spaces by 2015–16, by investing more than $64 million in 2011–12, growing to $309 million in 2013–14, in additional operating grants to colleges and universities. With this funding, the government’s strong record of fully funding postsecondary enrolment growth will continue.

This budget also announces additional funding for two important programs that support training opportunities and provide work experience to help Ontarians improve their knowledge and skills:

  • $44 million over three years for literacy and basic skills programs
  • $22.5 million in 2011–12 for the Summer Jobs Strategy, which will help more than 100,000 students access jobs and services this summer.

Ontario’s school system was cited as a leader by management consulting firm McKinsey and Company, in its report entitled “How the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better.” The report looked at 20 school systems from around the globe and identified Ontario as being “among the world’s highest performing school systems,” demonstrating sustained improvement.

Postsecondary Education Attainment Rate, 2008

Post secondary Education Attainment Rate, 2008

PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH CARE

The McGuinty government has rebuilt a strong public health care system that delivers quality, evidence-based care and puts patients first. Rising health care costs present a challenge to managing growth in health care spending without crowding out other priority investments. That is why the government is committed to ensuring every health care dollar is used to provide care of the highest quality and value while protecting the progress achieved.

Enhanced Breast Cancer Screening

Detecting and treating breast cancer at the earliest possible stage is critical. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer among Ontario women and is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths.

Currently, women under the age of 50 can only access mammography services with a referral from a physician or nurse practitioner. An expanded screening program is needed so that younger women at high risk can also benefit from the high-quality assessment services and followups provided through the Ontario Breast Screening Program.

To that end, the government will invest an additional $15 million over the next three years to provide about 90,000 more breast screening exams. This will expand the program to reach women between the ages of 30 and 49 who are at high risk for breast cancer due to genetic factors, medical or family history, and support additional exams for women aged 50 to 69 who are currently covered under the program.

Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy

Mental health problems and addictions can affect people at many stages in their lives. When people struggle with mental health problems or addictions, their families and friends, co-workers and fellow students can also be affected.

Mental health problems often begin at a young age, and the system of supports must be more integrated and responsive to the needs of children and youth. The government will invest in a comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, starting with children and youth. By 2013–14, funding to support the strategy will grow to $93 million per year.

Expanded Pharmacy Services

Beginning in April 2011, more pharmacy services and support will be available to people covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, including seniors. This investment builds on the successful MedsCheck program and will help ease the pressure on the rest of the health care system. 

The government will fund and support pharmacies offering a range of services including:

  • prescription follow-up consultations
  • medication assessment for patients with chronic diseases
  • training on how to operate home diagnostic devices such as glucose monitors and blood pressure monitoring kits.

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY:

Andrew Chornenky, Minister’s Office, 416-325-9819
Scott Blodgett, Ministry of Finance, 416-325-0324

For public inquiries call 1-800-337-7222

(Toll-free in Ontario only)

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