2014 Ontario Budget
Chapter I: Ontario’s Decade: A 10-Year Plan for the Economy

Introduction

Ontario is one of the best places in the world to live, work and invest.  Its education system is world class, it is one of the most competitive jurisdictions in the industrialized world to do business and despite challenges that linger in the global economy, Ontario continues to create new jobs. Although recovery from the global recession is underway, it is not what it could be. 

The Province recently released its long-term economic report that laid out a number of challenges and opportunities. Ontario has an aging population, increased pressure on transportation infrastructure in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), increasing competition — particularly from emerging economies — and lower economic growth than the province has seen in the past.

That is why Ontario is introducing a new 10-year economic plan that will continue to help stimulate the economy, create jobs, and increase prosperity and fairness for all Ontarians. The government’s new plan will ensure that Ontario has the skilled and productive workforce it needs to meet the demands of the 21st century. Ontario plans to invest over $130 billion in public infrastructure over the next 10 years, focusing on hospitals, schools and transportation infrastructure, and will continue to create a dynamic and innovative business climate that will leverage business investment, stimulate innovation and create high-quality, well-paying jobs for today and tomorrow.

The Province’s commitments to invest in people, build modern infrastructure, and support a dynamic and innovative business climate are part of the Province’s six-point jobs plan. Investment in people means a relentless commitment to developing the talents and skills of Ontarians. It also means a continued commitment to a Youth Jobs Strategy that has already given career-relevant placements to over 10,000 young people. Investment in modern infrastructure supports over 110,000 jobs on average each year and builds the backbone of the province’s economy. A dynamic and innovative business climate is developed by partnering with key industries, supporting small business, and by the government’s ongoing commitment to responsible fiscal management. The plan will help the Ontario economy continue to grow to build opportunity and security for all Ontarians.

The 10-Year Plan for Ontario’s Economy

By 2025:

  • Ontarians will know they have a secure retirement in their future.
  • Ontario’s highly skilled and adaptive workforce will compete globally and meet the demands of a changing economy.
  • Ontario’s dynamic and innovative labour market will enable all segments of society to participate fairly in the Province’s diverse job market.
  • Over 75 per cent of all elementary school students will be surpassing provincial literacy and numeracy standards.
  • Over 70 per cent of Ontario’s adult population will hold postsecondary education credentials.
  • Ontario will expand alternative methods of learning, such as co-op and work integrated learning options, making Ontario’s future college and university students more career and job ready than ever before.
  • Ontario’s world-class public infrastructure will enhance the quality of life for Ontarians, support economic growth, increase productivity, and meet future demographic needs.
  • Ontario’s businesses will increase investments in productivity-enhancing areas like information and communications technology, training, and research and development (R&D) to rates comparable to those of their U.S. counterparts.
  • Total Ontario exports will double, and exports to China, India and Brazil will more than triple.
  • Ontario will be one of the top five jurisdictions in North America for venture capital investment.
  • Ontario’s agri-food sector will be one of the most innovative in the world.
  • Health and dental benefits will be available to all low-income workers, reducing the welfare wall, providing peace of mind for families and individuals, and allowing them to be more productive.

Ontario’s 10-Year Economic Plan Is Based on Expert Advice

The Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress, led by Roger Martin, Chair of the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity, was established in 2001 to provide government, firms, organizations and the people of Ontario with recommendations for increasing competitiveness and prosperity.

Over the years, the Task Force has highlighted the importance of skills development, tax reform to encourage business investments, social policies to improve living standards, and supports to encourage innovation. These areas of importance align with the government’s initiatives under its 10-year economic plan, as well as a number of actions the government has already taken.

The government has acted on the following initiatives:

  • Making Ontario’s tax system one of the most competitive in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) through sales tax reform and corporate tax cuts;
  • Retooling the workforce through investments in education and skills development, such as full-day kindergarten, improved worker training, and more effective apprenticeship programs; and
  • Taking action to support employment, transform social assistance, enhance support for low-income families and Aboriginal communities, and protect the most vulnerable.

Under the 10-year economic plan, Ontario will be:

  • Focusing efforts to develop opportunities in Northern Ontario’s resource and mineral sector, such as the Ring of Fire area;
  • Investing over $130 billion in public infrastructure over the next 10 years, focusing on areas such as hospitals, schools, transit, roads and bridges; and
  • Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship through recent initiatives such as the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund and the Youth Investment Accelerator Fund.

Highlights

  • Full-day kindergarten will be available to all four- and five-year-olds by September 2014 and will save families up to $6,500 a year per child on child care costs.
  • Ontario will implement a new vision for education with the renewed goals of achieving excellence, ensuring equity, promoting well-being and enhancing public confidence in a modern system that prepares learners for a rapidly changing, technology-driven, globalized world.
  • Ontario is well on its way to meeting its target of raising postsecondary education attainment to 70 per cent by 2020.
  • Ontario is investing over $750 million in additional funding by 2016–17 in more home and community care services, including over $270 million in 2014–15, to strengthen access to care in the home and community, where people want it.
  • Ontario is making it easier for seniors to stay safe, active and engaged in their communities by doubling the Seniors Community Grant Program.

Section A: Investing in People

Investing in Hard-Working Ontarians

Ontario’s competitive advantage is increasingly dependent on a highly skilled, diverse and adaptive workforce.

Ontario’s 10-year economic plan is focused on developing the economy of tomorrow by investing in people today and giving Ontarians the support they need to get the right skills and the right jobs. This will give all Ontarians the opportunity to have good, high-paying jobs and contribute to the prosperity of the province. Recent initiatives include:

  • Investing $295 million in the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy, which gives young people the opportunity to gain a foothold in the job market;
  • Investing in Ontario’s education system to give youth the skills and knowledge they need to create and fill the jobs of the future;
  • Raising the minimum wage to $11.00 per hour and proposing legislation to index it to inflation to help ensure that workers receive a decent wage; and
  • Reforming social assistance, which will reduce barriers to entering the workforce.

Ontario’s new plan will continue to build on a solid employment and training network that gives learners, job seekers and employers seamless access to the programs and services they need to effectively meet rapidly changing labour market demands. Ontario will continue to build an innovative, student-centred education system from kindergarten through to postsecondary, fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and entrepreneurial skills. As well, the Province will continue to add more postsecondary spaces to ensure that, as enrolment grows, Ontario’s students will have access to the highest-quality postsecondary education closer to home.

Ontario’s New Vision for Education

Ontario’s education system is among the best in the English-speaking world. Over the past 10 years, the Province has made several vital investments in the education sector that have laid a strong foundation for sustained prosperity. Class sizes are smaller than they were a decade ago, ensuring that students have more time with their teachers. New programs for secondary students, such as the Specialist High Skills Major and dual credits, are creating better links between skills and education so that students are better prepared to enter the workforce once they graduate. The introduction of full-day kindergarten has been the most transformative change to the province’s school system in a generation.

As a result of these investments and the hard work of students, educators, parents and communities, more high school students are graduating than ever before, and more students are meeting the high provincial academic standards than they were a decade ago.

However, the world is changing. Today’s graduates are entering a world that is more competitive, globally connected and technologically engaged than any other period in history. It is more important than ever that graduates have the knowledge, skills and characteristics they need to be successful in the 21st century.

That is why, in the fall of 2013, the government brought together individuals and organizations from across the province to discuss the skills and knowledge Ontarians will need in the future. The Province received input from parents, students, teachers, support staff and school system leaders, as well as businesses and non-profit organizations. The result of their feedback is a new vision document for Ontario’s education system, entitled Achieving Excellence.

Through the implementation of Achieving Excellence, Ontario’s students will gain higher-order skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, and knowledge that will lead them to become the motivated innovators, skilled workers, entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow.

Ontario’s renewed goals for education are:

  • Achieving Excellence: Children and students of all ages will achieve high levels of academic performance, acquire valuable skills and demonstrate good citizenship. Educators will be supported in learning continuously and will be recognized as among the best in the world;
  • Ensuring Equity: All children and students will be inspired to reach their full potential, with access to rich learning experiences that begins at birth and continues into adulthood;
  • Promoting Well-Being: All children and students will develop enhanced mental and physical health, a positive sense of self and belonging, and the skills to make positive choices; and
  • Enhancing Public Confidence: Ontarians will continue to have confidence in a publicly funded education system that helps develop new generations of confident, capable and caring citizens.

To support the new vision for education, the Province will be investing $150 million over three years in technology and learning tools such as new digital tablets, netbooks, cameras, software and professional development for teachers. 

By 2025, Ontario will have an education system that seamlessly integrates services from early years to adulthood. Ontario will be a world leader in higher-order skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, which will allow Ontario to thrive in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Ontario will be looked at globally as having a high-performing education system with engaged educators, supportive staff, and administrative and other professionals who are committed to continuous learning.

Continued Investments in Early Learning

The Province is continuing to modernize and strengthen the child care system to give Ontario’s youngest the best start to their education. Over the past four years, Ontario has made significant investments to support this modernization and preserve child care spaces, keeping fees stable for parents and supporting child care operations and parents as children transition to full-day kindergarten. This funding has also helped stabilize the sector by helping to prevent child care centre closures and by increasing retrofits to school-based child care centres.

Through the proposed Bill 143, Child Care Modernization Act, 2014, the Province is taking steps to strengthen oversight of Ontario’s unlicensed child care sector, while increasing access to licensed child care options for families. If passed, the new law would:

  • Allow the Province to immediately shut down a child care provider when a child’s safety is at risk;
  • Give the Province the authority to issue administrative penalties of up to $100,000 per infraction by a child care provider;
  • Increase the maximum penalty for illegal offences under the proposed act from $2,000 to $250,000;
  • Require all private schools that care for more than five children under age four to be licensed; and
  • Ensure school boards offer before- and after-school programs for six- to
    twelve-year-olds where there is sufficient demand, either themselves or through a third party.

To further support the ongoing operation and modernization of the child care system, Ontario is announcing additional funding of $33.6 million over the next three years. This funding will help protect the gains made in the child care sector through the previously announced, four-year $346 million child care modernization investment, helping to preserve spaces and keep parent fees stable. The funding will also support increased licensing activity and enhance investigation and enforcement capacity. The increased activity and capacity are a result of policy and proposed legislative and regulatory changes to protect the well-being and safety of children.

These new investments, when combined with the proposed Child Care Modernization Act, 2014, will facilitate Ontario’s transition to a modernized child care system that better protects and fosters the learning, development, health and well-being of children.

Fully Implementing Full-Day Kindergarten by September 2014

Since introducing full-day kindergarten in 2010, the Province has continued to phase in this program so that, by September 2014, all four- and five-year-olds will have the opportunity to benefit. This school year, full-day kindergarten is available to 184,000 children in 2,600 schools across Ontario. At full implementation, full-day kindergarten will be available to approximately 265,000 children, saving families up to $6,500 a year per child on child care costs and giving Ontario’s youngest the best start to their education.

The implementation of full-day kindergarten has been the most significant and transformational change to the educational system in over a decade. Benefits include improved social skills, language and cognitive development, as well as communication skills and general knowledge. Some argue for the elimination of full-day kindergarten. However, studies by Queen’s and McMaster universities show that doing so would jeopardize these gains and the future of Ontario’s youngest learners.1

Support for Front-Line Child Care Workers

Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and other child care staff play a key role during the critical years of a child’s development. However, there is a significant wage gap between ECEs working in the publicly funded education system and those in the child care sector. This places pressure on child care operators to deliver affordable, high-quality service and retain pedagogical professionals.

To help stabilize child care operators, support the ability to retain ECEs, and close the wage gap, the Province will provide an additional $269 million over three years to support an average $1 per hour wage increase in 2015 and a further average $1 per hour wage increase in 2016 for front-line child care workers who work in licensed child care centres, child care centres managed by First Nations and licensed private-home daycare agencies. Currently, an ECE in the child care sector earns an average of $16.34 per hour. The average ECE in a school board makes over $22 per hour, which continues to increase as an ECE moves through a salary grid.

Ontario Students Continue to Increase Test Scores and Graduation Rates

Ontario’s students continue to excel. Respected international organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), McKinsey and Company and the National Center on Education and the Economy in the United States have all applauded Ontario, its programs and its results.

A decade ago, only 54 per cent of children in Grades 3 and 6 met provincial standards in literacy and numeracy. That number has grown significantly, and today, 71 per cent of Grade 3 and 6 students are achieving high provincial standards, a 17 percentage point increase.2 In addition, only 68 per cent of students were graduating from high school a decade ago. Now, 83 per cent of students are graduating, a 15 percentage point increase. That means there are an additional 138,000 high school graduates in Ontario because of the education reforms of the past 10 years — a number that is roughly equivalent to the population of the city of Guelph.

Performance gaps between groups of students have also narrowed, and in some cases been eliminated. For example, elementary students participating in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs now perform almost as well as the general student population. In addition, 92 per cent of students are meeting or exceeding international standards in reading, regardless of socioeconomic background or first language.

Math Action Plan

Ontario has committed to having 75 per cent of Ontario’s elementary school students meet the high provincial standards on Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) assessments. The approach to achieve this goal will include a balance between understanding basic math concepts, combined with a focus on creativity and critical thinking, innovative problem solving and effective communication. The Province will continue to work with its education partners to focus on and improve outcomes in math.

Advancing Postsecondary Education

Over the past 10 years, the Province has increased funding to postsecondary education by 80 per cent. This has supported the government’s goal of creating a space to learn for every eligible student regardless of their financial circumstances, as well as making postsecondary education more accessible through programs such as the 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant.

Ontario remains among the best jurisdictions in North America for talent, training and skills development. With more Ontarians pursuing postsecondary education, the Province is focusing on supporting programs that provide young people with the best skills and training they need to create and fill the jobs of the future.

To position Ontario as a leader in postsecondary education, the Province recently implemented a number of initiatives that will help transform the postsecondary system. These include:

  • Working with Ontario’s universities and colleges on Strategic Mandate Agreements to ensure that each institution focuses and builds on its strengths and offers the best possible programs in its areas of specialization. These agreements will:
    • Improve the learning experience for students;
    • Reduce duplication in the postsecondary system;
    • Raise the global competitiveness of Ontario’s postsecondary system; and
    • Create centres of excellence in specific subject areas.
  • Continuing to improve the credit transfer system so that students can take their credits with them when they move between postsecondary institutions and not have to retake courses.
  • Investing $42 million over three years to implement Ontario Online, a new Centre of Excellence for Online Learning. Ontario Online will give students across the province one-window access to high-quality, transferable online courses and will also help reduce course duplication in the system. Ontario Online will be fully operational and begin online course offerings in 2015–16.
  • Continuing to give students a range of credential options that meet the demands of the economy now and in the future.
  • Increasing co-op, work placements and experiential learning for students, as well as supporting young entrepreneurs so they have the skills and experience needed to secure jobs or start their own businesses once they graduate.

The Province is also focused on closing achievement gaps for underrepresented groups including Aboriginal students, students with disabilities and students new to Canada. The government is providing more options for francophone students to study in French. These initiatives will improve the access and success rates for underrepresented groups.

Ontario would put in place a new system that allows the collection and use of student-level information to track progress and evaluate the effectiveness of provincial funding on education outcomes. This initiative would build on the recent extension of the Ontario Education Number (a unique student identifier used in Ontario’s elementary and secondary schools since 2003) to college and university students to make student records consistent from kindergarten to postsecondary education. As of the fall of 2013, postsecondary institutions have successfully extended OEN coverage for over 447,000 new students.

As a result of these initiatives, by 2025, Ontario will have:

  • A postsecondary attainment rate above 70 per cent, and will continue to lead all OECD countries;
  • A modern, forward-looking postsecondary education sector, where students have more options for learning, both online and closer to home;
  • An apprenticeship system that seamlessly transitions apprentices from training into the workforce; and
  • More detailed labour market information so that students know where to find jobs in their area of specialization.

Developing the talent and skills of Ontario’s people is the foundation of the Province’s plan to create jobs. In March 2014, the Province hosted a summit with educators, labour, business and the not-for-profit sector to build partnerships and better collaborate on talent and skills development. Premier Kathleen Wynne challenged each participant to implement one new initiative that will contribute to skills and talent development in the province.

Building Ontario’s Integrated Employment and Training System

Ontario’s skilled and adaptive workforce is one of its greatest competitive advantages. The Province continues to invest in its people to help them compete globally and to meet the demands of a rapidly changing economy.

The Province invests over $1 billion annually in Employment Ontario, which provides employment, training, apprenticeship and labour market programs, and serves more than one million Ontarians. Employment Ontario offers services such as the Rapid Re-employment and Training Service (RRTS) and Second Career, which provide assistance and training-related support to unemployed workers affected by layoffs and plant closures. Since the RRTS began in January 2007, over 192,000 individuals have been offered assistance. Second Career has supported over 76,000 affected workers to help them retrain since 2008.

However, services and supports for job seekers and employers are currently offered across several government ministries and through many delivery systems. To make it easier for those accessing these services, the Province is moving forward with the government-wide integration of employment and training programs.

Integrating and modernizing the employment and training system will ensure that all Ontarians have access to programs and services that align with their individual needs, and that employers can make more effective use of government programs to support recruitment and workplace training.

The integrated system will:

  • Provide referrals to employment and training programs that will more accurately and fairly reflect individual needs, and identify and measure barriers to employment through leading-edge assessment practices;
  • Through improved coordination, provide connections to other economic and social supports such as income supports for social assistance recipients and language and/or bridge training for newcomers;
  • Provide customized workplace training programs that will give individuals relevant work experience in high-demand occupations;
  • Introduce an improved and more consistent approach to assessing the needs of clients, to better match clients to services based on individual needs and readiness to work;
  • Better serve Ontario’s most vulnerable populations, including social assistance recipients, people with disabilities, new Canadians, Aboriginal people and at-risk youth; and
  • Offer a variety of modern services and supports, including a series of new skills training programs that are developed in partnership with local employers and tailored to industry needs. These include sector-specific skills and postsecondary training towards industry-recognized credentials as well as training with pre- and post-employment supports for unemployed individuals.

To ensure that the new system reflects the diverse needs of clients and key employment and training partners, the Province will continue to engage a broad range of stakeholders at key stages of this transformation. These include Aboriginal people, client-specific advocacy groups and umbrella organizations, municipalities and employers.

Promoting the Skilled Trades

Ontario’s skilled tradespersons are fundamental to the province’s continued economic growth. The new employment and training structure will include a modern apprenticeship system to help Ontarians who want careers in the skilled trades navigate the system — getting the right information, receiving financial help and connecting with employers in the trades they are interested in. It will serve the needs of emerging and growing industries and ensure businesses are active participants in skills training, collaborating and working closely with training institutions.

Over the past 10 years, the Province has significantly expanded the apprenticeship system:

  • There are about 120,000 apprentices learning a trade in Ontario today — twice as many as in 2002–03; and
  • New annual apprenticeship registrations almost doubled from 17,000 in 2002–03 to more than 30,000 in 2012–13.

Targeting the Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit (ATTC)

  • The ATTC provides a 35 per cent targeted refundable income tax credit (45 per cent for small businesses) to businesses that hire eligible apprentices in construction, motive power, industrial and certain service trades.
  • Approximately 80 per cent of Ontario’s apprenticeship trades are supported by the ATTC.
  • The ATTC is providing over $250 million in support in 2013–14.
  • As part of the ongoing review of business support programs, ATTC support for large businesses will be reviewed (see Chapter V: A Fair and Efficient Tax System for more details).

The Province is also enhancing the made-in-Ontario Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model by ensuring that, beginning with the Eglinton Crosstown, future infrastructure projects include plans for providing opportunities for apprentices and supporting the completion of apprenticeships, with focused programs for at-risk youth, local communities and veterans.


“The Ontario Construction Secretariat supports Infrastructure Ontario’s initiative to provide good jobs for today and at the same time build the skilled workforce of tomorrow. By requiring contractors to maximize the use of registered apprentices, young workers will have more opportunities to gain the skills required to successfully complete their training and enhance the competitiveness of the Ontario economy.”

Sean W. Strickland, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Construction Secretariat, December 2013.

Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy

Ontario’s youth shouldered the brunt of job losses during the recent recession and continue to face an unacceptably high unemployment rate. Although youth unemployment at 15.4 per cent in 2014 (year to date) is lower than the recession’s peak rate of 17.5 per cent in 2009, it remains considerably higher than the unemployment rate of the province’s prime working-age group aged 25 to 54 (6.5 per cent).

These numbers underscore the importance of helping Ontario’s youth now. Long spells of unemployment can lead to a “scarring” effect where youth can experience lower wages and a higher likelihood of becoming unemployed later in life. Helping youth gain the skills and experience to obtain stable employment also supports Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and gives everyone the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Employment Ontario serves Ontario’s youth with a range of employment and training programs. About 35 per cent of Employment Ontario’s clients were under age 30 in 2012–13.

Recognizing the persistently high youth unemployment rate, the Province announced an additional investment of $295 million over two years for Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy in 2013. This is helping young people find jobs, start their own businesses and gain valuable skills.

A key element of the strategy, the Youth Employment Fund, was launched in September 2013 through the Province’s network of employment services across Ontario. To date, the fund has already helped over 10,000 young people gain work experience and find jobs. It is also well on its way to meeting its two-year target of creating 25,000 job opportunities.

Ontario is also investing in three additional funds to support its Youth Jobs Strategy: the Youth Innovation Fund, the Youth Entrepreneurship Fund and the Youth Skills Connections Fund, which were launched in October 2013.

As part of the Youth Entrepreneurship Fund, the Province also created the Youth Investment Accelerator Fund (Youth IAF), and is investing up to $250,000 per eligible technology-focused firm founded by entrepreneurs under age 30. This initiative will help more young people, students and researchers who choose to become entrepreneurs and support innovative companies to grow their businesses.

The Province will assess long-term commitments by reviewing the effectiveness of these youth employment programs going forward.

To help young people and employers get more information on accessing youth jobs programs, Ontario has launched a new website: Ontario.ca/ReadySetWork.

Helping Youth Launch High-Tech Companies

In February 2014, the government announced the first recipients of the Youth Investment Accelerator Fund (Youth IAF):

  • PUSH — A sports-science technology startup that helps optimize training by instantly transmitting feedback about an athlete’s movements.
  • Rubikloud — A platform that processes e-commerce data and delivers insight into business performance.
  • Soapbox — An innovation management tool that helps maximize employee engagement through ideas.
  • Greengage Mobile — A platform that uses mobile engagement to help organizations meet sustainability goals, such as decreasing their environmental footprint or improving the local community.

Attracting Skilled Immigrants

Ontario remains the number one destination for newcomers to Canada to work and raise a family. Over the last 10 years, Ontario received close to 1.2 million landed immigrants, which is nearly half of all those who came to Canada. Many choose Ontario because of its diversified economy, high quality of life, and strong public services and benefits that all people enjoy today.

Ontario’s Long-Term Report on the Economy noted that immigration is projected to account for all of the net increases in Ontario’s working-age population and is expected to be the main source of future labour force growth. That is why it is important that the federal government work with Ontario to strengthen its role in the immigrant selection process.

Programs that Help Immigrants Settle and Prepare to Enter the Labour Market

To help foster the seamless integration of skilled immigrants in Ontario, the Province continues to offer a variety of programs, including:

  • More than 300 bridge training programs since 2003, targeting over 100 professions and trades that have helped about 50,000 immigrants integrate into Ontario’s workforce;
  • Tuition-free adult language programs to help immigrants improve their English and French; and
  • The Newcomer Settlement Program, which helps over 80,000 newcomers annually by providing information on key services such as housing, language, employment and job training.

Ontario’s ability to attract highly skilled immigrants has contributed to the province’s overall high educational attainment and productive workforce. More than two-thirds of working-age (25 to 64) immigrants arriving in Ontario have a postsecondary education.

The Province understands the important role immigration plays in Ontario’s economy and greatly values the social, cultural and economic contributions that immigration provides. This is why, in the fall of 2012, Ontario introduced its first Immigration Strategy.

The Immigration Strategy positions Ontario to continue attracting the best and brightest to the province. This strategy builds on Ontario’s vision of a greater provincial role in immigrant selection and the creation of a seamless and comprehensive support and training system for immigrants once they arrive. Ontario will release its first Immigration Strategy Progress Report this year.

The government recently introduced the Ontario Immigration Act, 2014, a key element of the Immigration Strategy. Making the most of the province’s diverse workforce is part of Ontario’s Immigration Strategy and supports the government’s efforts to build a prosperous economy and a fair society. If passed, the legislation would help the Province work with the federal government to maximize the social, cultural and economic benefits of immigration by:

  • Allowing the Province to set immigration targets to attract more skilled immigrants;
  • Enabling Ontario to work more closely with the federal government on the recruitment, selection and admission of skilled immigrants to the province; and
  • Preventing fraud by improving compliance and enforcement measures in the immigrant selection process, such as introducing penalties for applicants who misrepresent personal information or people who take advantage of immigrants.

An Action Plan for Health Care

The Province is committed to a health care system that puts patients first, responds to their needs and makes it easier for providers to coordinate care. Ontario is continuing to implement Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care, which provides the road map for transforming health care services to create a more sustainable and high-quality health care system.

Right Care, Right Time, Right Place

Ontario is committed to ensuring that patients receive timely access to the most appropriate care in the most appropriate setting. This involves providing better-integrated care in the community whenever possible so patients can stay at home for as long as possible instead of being admitted unnecessarily to a hospital or to a long-term care home. This also means helping patients move seamlessly from one care provider to another.

Ontario is investing in more health care services in the home and in the community so that more community options are available to patients when and where they need them. In the 2013 Budget, the Province committed to increasing investments in home and community care services by an average of five per cent per year to support initiatives such as the achievement of the five-day home care service targets. These investments include $15 million per year in new funding to support meeting the five-day wait time target for patients with complex needs to receive nursing services. Half of Ontario’s Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) have consistently met the five-day service target for community-referred patients. Ontario continues to deliver on this commitment by increasing investments in these services by over $750 million by 2016–17, including over $270 million in 2014–15. These investments will improve the health system’s capacity and ability to care for individuals after hospital discharge, and, where possible, avoid costly hospitalization or long waits in the emergency room. This will help free up hospital and long-term care beds for those who need them.

As part of the strategy to build capacity at the community level, Ontario is investing in front-line care. Many personal support workers (PSWs) are at the front line of health care delivery in the home and community, providing services to the most vulnerable. But they are also some of the lowest-paid workers in the broader public sector and are earning significantly less than PSWs in hospitals and long-term care homes. This makes it difficult to attract and retain high-quality PSWs, with the sector currently seeing a 60 per cent turnover rate.

To support the high-quality care that PSWs provide, the Province is proposing to give PSWs in the publicly funded home and community care sector a $1.50 per hour wage increase in 2014–15, an additional $1.50 per hour increase in 2015–16, and a further $1.00 per hour increase in 2016–17. This increase would bring up the base wage to $16.50 per hour by 2017. By strengthening recruitment and retention of PSWs in this sector, Ontario is building capacity to help transform the health care system by delivering high-quality care to patients in the most appropriate setting.

Self-Directed Care

The Province is determined to help as many Ontarians as possible live at home for as long as they can. An important part of this is giving people the tools to customize their own care.

As part of the government’s community investment, Ontario will commit to supporting demonstration projects that empower people — or their designates — to choose the care that best suits their needs, instead of the system choosing it for them. This responds to a report entitled Living Longer, Living Well by Dr. Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital and the University Health Network Hospitals, and is an important next step in Ontario’s Seniors Strategy.

Direct to Community Supports

The community supports services sector — from meal programs to homemaking — provides essential supports that Ontarians need to age at home. The Province will enable community support agencies to assess and provide services directly to clients with less complex needs. This will provide faster, more appropriate and flexible care at home.

Community Paramedicine

Ontario’s paramedics are essential to ensuring that patients get the right care, at the right time and in the right place.

The Province will invest $6 million to help paramedics across Ontario expand their efforts to proactively care for frequent users of emergency services and connect them to appropriate community supports.

Palliative/End-of-Life Care

The government is committed to improving the quality of end-of-life care for Ontarians by promoting advanced care planning and palliative services supports. This means supporting community-based providers, formal and informal caregivers, and patients to promote dignified palliative care.

Long-Term Care Homes

Ontario continues to modernize long-term care (LTC) homes to ensure continued safety for residents.

To further Ontario’s commitment to provide safe, sustainable homes for seniors, the government amended the Fire and Building Codes in 2013 to require all LTC homes to upgrade their sprinkler systems.

The government is proposing further investment in the LTC sector to enhance the current Long-Term Care Home Renewal Strategy by:

  • Providing funding to encourage LTC home operators to accelerate the redevelopment of about 30,000 long-term care home beds; and
  • Introducing amendments to the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, which, if passed, would extend the maximum term of LTC home licences from 25 to 30 years.

In addition, the government is proposing an amendment to the Assessment Act, which, if passed, would provide consistent and equitable property tax treatment by exempting all charitable and non-profit LTC homes from property taxation, allowing homes to devote more of their resources to front-line care services.

All together, these enhancements will contribute to the stability and capacity of Ontario’s LTC home sector.

Faster Access and Stronger Links to Family Health Care

Family health care serves as a hub for the entire health care system and improves the way health care is delivered. When patients have faster access to family health care, they stay healthier, get connected to the right care and are less likely to require treatment in hospitals. This is especially true with seniors and those with complex care needs, who need help navigating the system.

To improve access to care, Ontario is expanding Community Health Links, which bring together health care providers to better and more quickly coordinate care for high-needs patients such as seniors and people with complex conditions. Health Links are a new, made-in-Ontario innovation that will help patients transition within the health system, ensuring patients receive more responsive care that addresses their specific needs with the support of a team of providers. To date, 54 Health Links have been created, with plans to create more than 90 in total.

Other steps Ontario is taking to improve access to care include:

  • Making progress towards providing a family doctor for every senior who wants one. As of February 2014, 91 per cent of high-needs seniors who registered with Health Care Connect have been referred to a family health care provider; and
  • Expanding the scope of practice for a number of health care providers, such as allowing pharmacists to give flu shots and authorizing registered nurses and registered practical nurses to dispense drugs in certain circumstances.

Expanded Mental Health and Addictions Strategy

It is estimated that 20 per cent of Ontarians will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives, with 2.5 per cent of Ontarians having a serious mental illness. Addressing these problems has been complicated by mental health and addictions services that were delivered in a fragmented system. Various programs have been delivered by different ministries, across many service sectors. Individuals and families experience difficulty accessing timely and well-coordinated services.

In 2011, Ontario launched Open Minds, Healthy Minds, a 10-year comprehensive strategy to deliver mental health and addictions services to Ontarians in an integrated, coordinated and effective way. The first three years of the Strategy focused on children and youth, with funding growing to $93 million at full implementation. An estimated 35,000 more children and youth are already benefiting from these supports and services.

Ontario is now building on this Strategy, expanding it to include improved transition between youth and adult services, people with addictions and adults, through additional investments of over $65 million in 2014–15, growing to about $83 million annually by 2016–17. The expanded Strategy will help to ensure Ontarians and their families have better access to quality services and supports for their mental well-being. It will also achieve better value for these investments by linking funding directly to the quality care that is needed. The Strategy envisions that all Ontarians deserve to enjoy good mental health and well-being throughout their lifetime and those with mental health illnesses or addictions can recover or participate in welcoming and supportive environments. The Strategy will:

  • Promote mental health and well-being for all Ontarians — investing in evidence-based prevention initiatives in the workplace, schools and communities;
  • Ensure early identification and intervention — equipping service providers and clients to respond to symptoms and intervene early and appropriately;
  • Expand housing and employment supports — providing stability and supports to empower people to manage in the community;
  • Expand an integrated health and social service coordination model for people coping with mental illness and addictions; and
  • Provide funding based on need and quality — delivering a new funding model that links population need, quality improvements and sector integration to service delivery.

Providing Support for Family-Building in Ontario — Funding for Infertility Services

The government will provide additional support for people in this province who want to become parents by expanding coverage of infertility services for one cycle of in vitro fertilization per patient per lifetime for all causes of eligible infertility. Enhancing coverage makes infertility services more affordable and increases access to more than 4,000 additional patients annually. The government is also committed to developing a stronger quality and regulatory framework for those providing infertility services to ensure patients receive safe, high-quality care.

Supporting Healthy Lifestyles

People are more likely to reach their full potential when they lead healthy and active lives. That is why Ontario is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing the diseases that have the greatest cost to Ontarians. Initiatives that the government has put in place to promote keeping Ontarians healthy include:

  • Proposing to strengthen the Smoke-Free Ontario Act by doubling penalties for selling cigarettes to minors; banning flavoured tobacco targeted at children; and broadening restrictions on smoking in public areas, including bar and restaurant patios; and increasing the tobacco tax rate (see Chapter V: A Fair and Efficient Tax System);
  • Expanding eligibility for Healthy Smiles Ontario to provide access to dental services for an additional 70,000 low-income children and youth aged 17 and under. In August 2015, existing publicly funded dental programs will also be integrated into the Healthy Smiles Ontario Program to provide seamless enrolment, making it easier for eligible children and youth to receive timely dental care;
  • Acting to protect young people against skin cancer with the Skin Cancer Prevention Act (Tanning Beds), 2013, that restricts those under age 18 from using tanning beds and prohibits the marketing of tanning services to youth;
  • Expanding Newborn Screening Ontario, Canada’s most comprehensive infant screening program that checks all newborns in Ontario for 29 inherited and/or treatable diseases at no cost to families;
  • Acting on Healthy Kids Panel recommendations such as:
    • Introducing new legislation requiring large chain restaurants to post calories on menus;
    • Expanding the Student Nutrition Program by delivering more nutritious meals and snacks to children and youth in elementary and secondary schools across Ontario; and
    • Expanding Ontario’s After-School Program to give an additional 650 children and youth the opportunity to get involved in programs that promote sports, active living and healthy lifestyles.

Establishing a Patient Ombudsman

Patients sometimes need a third party to turn to when they have exhausted all local complaint resolution processes. That is why the Province is proposing to establish a Patient Ombudsman. This would help resolve complaints and concerns and would also drive system-wide quality improvements. The Patient Ombudsman would have the power to initiate and conduct investigations, mediate and make recommendations, and report on patient complaints to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Helping Seniors Stay Active and Engaged

As discussed in Ontario’s Long-Term Report on the Economy, the number of seniors in Ontario is increasing and is expected to double over the next two decades. Helping this growing population stay engaged and connected to their communities is an important part of the recently announced Action Plan for Seniors. The plan is focused on addressing the growing needs of the province's aging population and providing seniors with better access to health care, quality resources, and improved safety and security.

The Province has already delivered on many commitments laid out in the Action Plan:

  • Working with local municipalities to support age-friendly communities that are socially and physically accessible and inclusive. An “Age-Friendly Community Planning Guide” has been developed to help municipalities support independent and active living so seniors can stay connected to their communities;
  • Providing seniors with more opportunities to stay active, healthy and involved in their communities through Elderly Persons Centres (EPCs). There are approximately 270 EPCs that serve 250,000 older adults across the province and are vital community hubs that provide health, social and recreational programs to promote wellness for seniors;
  • Investing over $8 million in preventing elder abuse, including fraud; and
  • Creating the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority to follow up on complaints regarding abuse, neglect, or improper care or treatment in retirement homes.

Ontario’s Seniors Community Grant Program

Ontario is making it easier for seniors to stay safe, active and engaged in their communities by doubling the size of the new Seniors Community Grant Program to $1 million per year. The program helps seniors continue their learning in areas like technology and financial literacy, and develop a stronger sense of social inclusion. This initiative is another step towards making Ontario the best place in which to age actively and in good health, to live longer and to live well.

1 Queen’s University, “Final Report: Evaluation of the Implementation of the Ontario Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program,” The Social Program Evaluation Group (Fall 2012); and McMaster University, “The Full Day Kindergarten Early Learning Program Final Report,” The Offord Centre for Child Studies (October 2012).

2 Ontario’s provincial standard is equivalent to a “B” grade.

Chart Descriptions

Chart 1.1: Support From Early Years to Adulthood

The chart shows the Ontario government supports for Ontarians from early years to adulthood.

Under Age 6

  • Early learning and literacy programs
  • Parenting and family literacy centres
  • Quality child care, including child care subsidies
  • Full-day kindergarten
  • Children’s Activity Tax Credit (under 16)
  • Healthy Child Development Programs
  • Healthy Smiles Ontario
  • Ontario Child Benefit (under 18)
  • 18 publicly funded vaccines starting at 2 months of age

Age 6 to 13 (Elementary Education)

  • Programs that foster creativity and critical thinking
  • 90 per cent of primary classes with 20 or fewer students
  • Increasing levels of literacy and numeracy achievement
  • Student Nutrition Program provides health breakfasts, snacks and lunches

Age 13 to 18 (Secondary Education)

  • Initiatives to increase graduation rates
  • Ontario’s Student Success Strategy
  • Learning options including expanded co-operative education, Specialist High Skills Majors, dual credits and e-learning programs

Age 18 to 24 (Postsecondary Education)

  • Access grants, 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant, a new tuition fee framework and Co-operative Education Tax Credit
  • Ontario Summer Jobs Strategy
  • Ontario Online

Age 15 to 29

  • Youth Jobs Strategy (employment, entrepreneurship and innovation)
  • Employment Ontario Services
  • Apprenticeship supports

Return to Chart 1.1

Chart 1.2: Full-Day Kindergarten Implementation

Bar chart shows the number of children enrolled in full-day kindergarten between the years 2011 and 2014. In the 2011 school year, about 50,000 children were enrolled in full-day kindergarten. As the program is implemented across the province, the number of children rose to 122,000 in 2012 and 184,000 in 2013. Enrolment is projected to rise to 265,000 in September 2014, when the program is fully implemented.

Return to Chart 1.2

Chart 1.3: Key Achievements

The chart lists the key achievements in Ontario’s postsecondary education.

  • 41 per cent increase or more than 160,000 students enrolled in postsecondary education since 2002–03.
  • 59 per cent increase in enrolment in graduate programs between 2002–03 and 2012–13.
  • Over 370,000 students received financial assistance in 2012–13, with over $1 billion in grants and loans to students, including the 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant.
  • 77 per cent undergraduate students from university are graduating, up from 74 per cent in 2002–03.
  • 65 per cent of college students are graduating, up from 57 per cent in
    2002–03.
  • 66 per cent of adults aged 25–64 have university, college or college-based apprenticeship certification in 2013.
  • 87 per cent of university graduates and 83 per cent of college graduates were employed within six months of graduation in 2010–11.

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Chart 1.4: Apprenticeship Registration Nearly Doubled since 2003

Bar chart shows the number of new annual apprenticeship registrations in Ontario almost doubled, from 17,000 in 2002–03 to more than 30,000 in 2012–03.

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Chart 1.5: Unemployment Rate by Age Category, Ontario, 2006–14 (Year to Date)

Line chart shows unemployment rates for youth (aged 15 to 24 years) and prime working-age population (25–54 years) between the years 2006 and 2014 year to date (YTD). Unemployment rates are higher for youths than for the prime working- age population group every year, with youths averaging 15.4 per cent in 2014 YTD, higher than the prime working-age group of 6.5 per cent.

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Chart 1.6: Supporting More Patients at Home

The chart shows that more patients are going home from the hospital with support, and fewer people are going to long-term care homes and instead receiving care at home.

  • Since 2009–10, 18 per cent more patients are going home from hospital with support, from 8,223 in 2009–10 to 9,674 patients in 2012–13.
  • 37 per cent fewer people are going to long-term care homes, from 9,080 patients going to long-term care in 2009–10 to 5,680 in 2012–13.

Return to Chart 1.6