Ontario continues to embrace a collaborative approach with its partners across the country to address the complex challenges facing the province, as well as all of Canada. These include climate change, demographic changes and uncertain global economic growth.
The Province is committed to working with federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, as well as Indigenous partners, to improve the lives of the people in Ontario.
Working in Partnership with Municipalities
The Province has a very strong record of supporting and working in partnership with municipalities to ensure they are able to provide the services their communities need.
In 2017, the Province is providing municipalities with ongoing support of more than $4 billion. Provincial support is projected to grow to approximately $4.2 billion by 2018 — nearly four times the level of funding provided in 2003. This means municipalities will have more financial flexibility to invest in local priorities, such as roads, transit and economic development.
This increased support has helped to put municipalities on a financially sustainable footing. Going forward, the government will focus on investing in infrastructure, which will benefit communities across Ontario.
Provincial support to municipalities includes:
- Funding to small, rural and northern communities through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF). OCIF funding will increase to $300 million per year by 2018–19 to support the construction and renewal of critical road, bridge, water and wastewater infrastructure.
- Unconditional funding under the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF). Beginning in 2018, the Province will provide an additional $5 million through the Northern Communities Grant component, increasing the total OMPF envelope to $510 million.
- A predictable source of funding from the province’s Gasoline Tax for municipalities to improve and expand transit services. Ontario will increase the share of revenue municipalities receive from the Gasoline Tax from $334 million in 2016–17 to an estimated $642 million by 2021–22. This will be achieved by doubling the municipal share of the tax from two cents to four cents per litre by 2021–22.
- Removing more than $2 billion in costs from the municipal property tax base by uploading social assistance benefit costs, as well as court security and prisoner transportation costs.
- Extending to municipalities a new authority to levy a hotel tax.
- Providing municipalities with new tools to help increase the supply of housing, including a Vacant Homes Property Tax to encourage property owners to sell unoccupied units or make them available to be rented.
- Increasing municipal flexibility to more effectively manage business property taxes.
- Investing up to $100 million of proceeds from the Provincial carbon market in a new Municipal Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Challenge Fund in 2017–18.
Partnership with Indigenous Communities
Ontario is working with Indigenous partners and the federal government to deliver programs and actions focused on addressing the challenges faced by Indigenous peoples in Ontario, including those that are a legacy of Canada’s residential school system and other forms of institutionalized racism. Through this collaboration, Ontario aims to improve opportunities and outcomes for Indigenous peoples. Ontario is taking action with Indigenous communities and other partners to support children and youth, enhance equity in the province, and advance partnerships on tobacco and gas, jobs and economic opportunity.
Released in 2016, The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples committed $250 million over three years to close gaps in the support provided to Indigenous peoples.
In summer 2017, a progress report on The Journey Together highlighted Ontario’s achievements over the past year. Key achievements include: enhancing Indigenous participation in decision-making that affects Indigenous communities and organizations; supporting culturally relevant services on- and off-reserve, particularly child and family programs; advancing the development of an Indigenous-focused anti-racism strategy and engagement plan; making the justice system more responsive to the needs of Indigenous peoples; and supporting community-based programs to expand Indigenous youth’s understanding of traditional knowledge and languages, and to provide leadership skills training.
Working in Partnership to Support Indigenous Youth
Youth under age 25 represent 18 per cent of the Indigenous population in Ontario. As such, there is a need to work closely with the community in ensuring these youth get the supports they need, especially during times of crisis. Over the past several months, Ontario has worked to enhance this partnership by:
- Implementing an Interim Social Emergencies Response Protocol: Together with Indigenous and federal partners, Ontario is working to deliver a faster and more effective response to the youth suicide crisis in many northern Ontario First Nation communities, as well as the recent deaths of Indigenous youth residing in some northern urban areas.
- Establishing an Indigenous Youth and Community Wellness Secretariat: Announced in July 2017, the secretariat has been established to better coordinate the government’s response to the needs of First Nation youth and communities.
- Supporting the health and safety of First Nation youth: In August 2017, the Province committed $5.5 million for the 2017–18 school year to support Nishnawbe Aski Nation students in making safe and healthy school choices in a culturally relevant and appropriate learning environment in the immediate term.
- Expanding capacity in Indigenous Institutes: In 2017, Ontario announced $56 million over three years to help Indigenous Institutes expand their capacity and provide a pathway for Indigenous learners to advance their educational and career goals in culturally appropriate and safe learning environments.
- Supporting the next generation of Indigenous leaders: The Province is investing $4.5 million over two years in leadership-in-training and community camps with the Aboriginal Sport & Wellness Council of Ontario and other Indigenous organizations to help prepare Indigenous youth across Ontario to be leaders in their communities.
Strengthening Indigenous Communities
- Remediation of the English-Wabigoon River System: The Province has committed $85 million to fund remediation of contaminants in the English-Wabigoon River system. Subject to passage of proposed legislation, a trust will be set up through collaboration between First Nation communities and the Province.
- Encouraging opportunity through the Aboriginal Loan Guarantee Program (ALGP): Through the ALGP, the government supports Indigenous communities’ investments in renewable green energy infrastructure, facilitating, to date, the addition of over 680 MW of clean renewable power. In April 2017, the government approved a ninth ALGP loan guarantee.
- Connecting northern remote communities to the transmission grid: Wataynikaneyap Power LP (Watay), which is majority-owned by 22 First Nation communities, is leading a project to connect 16 remote First Nation communities to the provincial electricity grid. This would provide residents with a reliable, clean supply of electricity. Watay Power has already taken steps to connect the first community of Pikangikum First Nation by late 2018. Ontario continues to engage with the federal government, seeking a commitment for a fair federal financial contribution towards the capital costs of the project.
- Moving towards community-based regulation of tobacco: The Province is continuing to collaborate with First Nations on the self-regulation of tobacco and revenue-sharing, and has signed a historic agreement-in-principle with the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. In support of community-based regulation, the government intends to introduce amendments to the Tobacco Tax Act that will assist the Province in implementing agreements with First Nations on the sale, manufacture and transport of tobacco.
- Modernizing the Ontario Gas Card Program: Based on input from First Nations, the Province will be proposing a regulatory amendment to replace the current Ontario gas card in 2018, to make it easier and faster for authorized First Nation gasoline retailers to receive their refunds.
Updates on Federal–Provincial Partnerships
Ontario is committed to making sure that everyone benefits from a growing economy. To help support this goal, Ontario is actively working with the federal government on the development of a number of bilateral funding agreements.
Ontario’s collaborative approach is yielding results. To effectively meet the needs of everyone in Ontario and Canada, the funding partnership with the federal government should be adequate, sustainable and flexible enough to respond to unique local needs, and take advantage of the expertise of Provincial governments in delivering services to their residents. The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has consistently demonstrated that the federal government’s fiscal position will be better than that of provinces and territories over the longer term. Accordingly, federal fiscal and policy decisions should be guided by this reality and should not unduly leverage Provincial spending.
Collaborating on Early Learning and Child Care
The Province is continuing to invest in early learning and child care programs and services that will improve the lives of Ontario families. Since 2013, child care funding has increased by 49 per cent to about $1.4 billion annually. See Chapter I: Building Fairness for Ontario Families for more details.
The Province is building on these investments by working with the federal government and other jurisdictions. Progress includes:
- An announcement in June by federal, provincial and territorial governments of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework agreement, which outlines principles for increasing the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity of early learning and child care; and
- The successful completion of a $435 million bilateral agreement with the federal government to improve the accessibility and affordability of high-quality child care and early learning opportunities over the next three years.
Strengthening Health Care
Ensuring that everyone in Ontario has access to high-quality, publicly funded health care, when and where they need it, is a key component of the government’s plan to put patients first. The Province is committed to strengthening the health care system to better serve the patients of today and tomorrow. See Chapter I: Building Fairness for Ontario Families for more details.
Ontario’s 10-year funding agreement with the federal government for home and community care, mental health and addictions will deliver $116 million to the province in 2017–18. This funding will support the significant investments the Province is already making in these health priorities, which will total nearly $9 billion annually. This funding will also assist with the urgent relief the Province is providing to those affected by the opioid crisis.
As the Province continues to work with the federal government to finalize the details of the agreement, it is critical that the funding partnership with the federal government be adequate and remain flexible enough to respond to the evolving needs of the people of Ontario.
Building towards a National Pharmacare Plan
Building on the establishment of OHIP+ (see Chapter I: Building Fairness for Ontario Families for more details), Ontario continues to work with provinces and territories to improve the affordability, accessibility and appropriate use of prescription drugs. The pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance is continuing to improve access to cost-effective drug treatments, achieving annual savings of $1.28 billion across all jurisdictions. Ontario will continue to engage the federal government, provinces and territories on creating a national pharmacare plan to ensure that all Canadians have access to the medications that keep them healthy.
Preparing for the Legalization of Cannabis
The federal government’s Cannabis Act, if passed, would make it legal to produce, sell and use recreational cannabis across Canada as of July 2018.
Ontario has developed a framework to govern the safe, regulated and controlled adult use of recreational cannabis, which also includes the governing of retail operations, with the goal of eliminating the illegal market and protecting youth. Ontario looks forward to continuing to work with the federal government, Indigenous communities, provinces and territories, municipalities and stakeholders as July 2018 approaches.
The federal government has proposed a coordinated federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) framework for taxing cannabis based on sharing tax revenues equally between the federal and provincial and territorial governments. This proposal is inadequate, because it does not reflect the significant regulatory and enforcement costs that will be borne by provinces and territories and municipalities to support the federal decision to legalize cannabis. Ontario supports a framework that is fair and maintains provincial and territorial authority and flexibility over setting taxes and mark-ups. The Province will continue to work with the federal government on potential FPT coordination, while advocating for a fairer deal for provinces and territories.
Improving Labour Market Transfers
The Province is working to ensure that at every stage of their lives, the people of Ontario are able to access the high-quality training and labour market supports that will prepare them for the jobs of today and tomorrow. See Chapter II: Creating Opportunities for Everyone for more details.
The Province has long called for labour market transfers that are flexible, adequate and responsive, and that reflect the needs of Ontario workers as well as the changing dynamics of the labour market. This is why Ontario welcomed the federal government’s commitments to improve labour market funding arrangements in Canada.
Working with the federal government and other provincial and territorial governments, Ontario’s collaborative approach is delivering results. For many years, the majority of unemployed people of Ontario have not been eligible for federally funded training. Both the proposed new Workforce Development Agreements and amendments to the Employment Insurance Act will help address this issue by expanding the scope of labour market supports and broadening worker eligibility for programs and services under the new Labour Market Transfer Agreements.
The government of Ontario will continue to work with the federal government to finalize the renewed labour market transfers and to ensure that they meet the needs of the people of Ontario now and in the future.
Investing in Infrastructure
Ontario is making the largest infrastructure investment in schools, hospitals, public transit, roads and bridges in the province’s history. Ontario’s long-term infrastructure plan includes investments of about $190 billion over 13 years, which started in 2014–15. It is critical that new federal investments respect Provincial priorities. See Chapter II: Creating Opportunities for Everyone for more details.
At the July meeting of Canada’s Premiers, provinces and territories agreed that new federal funding should not result in additional fiscal pressure to provincial, territorial and municipal governments.
To maximize the benefits of the proposed federal investments, agreements should be sufficiently flexible to support a range of projects, and to ensure that funding is directed to those areas of greatest infrastructure need and aligned with Provincial priorities and commitments. Furthermore, agreements should have streamlined and appropriate reporting requirements that recognize the comprehensive reporting mechanisms already in place at the provincial or territorial level.
Port Lands Flood Protection
Ontario is partnering with the federal government on other infrastructure initiatives, such as the Toronto Port Lands Flood Protection project. Ontario, Canada and the City of Toronto are together contributing $1.25 billion to protect the area from flooding, and to lay the groundwork to transform the underused industrial area into a vibrant and resilient downtown neighbourhood.
Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy
Ontario has committed to working with the federal government and other provincial and territorial partners on the development of a National Housing Strategy that supports the Province’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. In addition, Ontario welcomes the federal government’s commitments to preserving the baseline funding related to the expiring social housing agreements.
Addressing Climate Change
Ontario is transitioning to a competitive and low-carbon economy to ensure a healthy environment for generations to come. Ontario has signed an agreement to link to the Quebec–California carbon market effective January 1, 2018. This will launch North America’s largest carbon allowance market. See Chapter II: Creating Opportunities for Everyone for more details.
To support the actions Ontario is taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a prosperous low-carbon economy, the Province is working collaboratively with the federal government to identify opportunities for investments in Ontario under the new federal Low Carbon Economy Fund, which totals $2 billion nationwide. It is important that this new program be designed to align with priorities identified through Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, and include streamlined and appropriate reporting and project eligibility requirements to ensure that new funding flows efficiently.
The changing global environment offers both tremendous opportunities and increased challenges for Ontario businesses. On August 16, the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) formally began between the United States, Canada and Mexico. In October, the Premier, together with the Prime Minister and Premiers across Canada, discussed the negotiations to modernize NAFTA. First Ministers affirmed that free and open trade under NAFTA has led to significant benefits for businesses, workers and communities in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Ontario is committed to continue its engagement and advocacy efforts with U.S. national and state-level decision-makers, as well as with U.S. industry and business, to demonstrate the integration of the U.S. and Ontario economies and the importance of enhancing the free flow of trade across the Canada–U.S. border. Ontario’s continuing objective is to modernize NAFTA, while maintaining the benefits from trade for Ontario workers and businesses. The Province is actively engaged with the federal government, other provinces and territories, as well as Ontario businesses and workers to ensure economic interests are well represented during negotiations.
Establishing the Cooperative Capital Markets Regulatory System
The Cooperative Capital Markets Regulatory System (CCMR) represents a significant step towards consolidating securities regulation under a new regulator, the Capital Markets Regulatory Authority (CMRA). Once implemented, the CCMR would enhance Canada’s stature and competitiveness in the global capital markets. Currently Canada is the only country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G7 without a national securities regulator. The CCMR would also lead to more effective regulation and enforcement.
In the lead-up to the CCMR, the government plans to propose changes to the purpose provisions of the Securities Act and the Commodity Futures Act to include contributing to the stability of the financial system and the reduction of systemic risk. These amendments would also expand the powers of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) to collect information to monitor systemic risk.
The government also plans to introduce amendments to update securities laws to provide a civil cause of action for whistleblowers where a reprisal is taken against them contrary to securities or commodity futures law; give the OSC broader tools to ensure an accurate, reliable and transparent proxy voting infrastructure; and allow the OSC to extend protective temporary orders affecting registration or removing exemptions.