Chapter I, Section C: Respecting Consumers and Families

Introduction

The government’s plans for consumers and families begins with respecting taxpayers and putting more money back in their pockets. This is why the government is taking action to reduce gas prices, cancel the cap-and-trade carbon tax, cut taxes for low-income individuals and families, and end the Drive Clean program for passenger and light-duty vehicles.

It is also about putting patients first by ending hallway health care, and implementing a new model for Consumption and Treatment Services to save lives and prevent overdoses.

It is about respecting parents, teachers and students: focusing on math fundamentals in the classroom, and consulting parents on the health and physical education curriculum. It is also about ensuring a sustainable postsecondary education system.

And it is about ensuring law-abiding individuals and families are protected from drug, gun and gang-related violence.

The Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit

The government is taking steps to help people keep more of their hard-earned money by proposing the Low-income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit, which would benefit about 1.1 million people. Ontario Personal Income Tax paid by low-income tax filers, including those earning minimum wage, is among the lowest in Canada. With the introduction of the proposed LIFT Credit, more low-income workers would pay little or no Ontario Personal Income Tax.

The LIFT Credit would be effective January 1, 2019. Tax filers who have employment income would be able to claim it when they file their 2019 tax returns and receive up to $850 in tax relief (or up to $1,700 for couples).

With this tax relief, a person who works full time at minimum wage (earning nearly $30,000) would pay no Ontario Personal Income Tax. Tax relief would be gradually reduced for taxpayers with individual incomes greater than $30,000 and family incomes greater than $60,000. This would minimize disincentives to earn additional income.

One in six Ontario taxpayers would receive about $450 in tax relief, on average. Ontario Personal Income Tax would be eliminated for about 580,000 taxpayers, while tax would be reduced for another 520,000. Combined with existing tax relief, about 90 per cent of all Ontario tax filers with taxable incomes below $30,000 would pay no Ontario Personal Income Tax.

In 2019, the proposed LIFT Credit would provide about $495 million of new tax relief to Ontario families.

Chart 1.6: Tax Relief for LIFT Credit Recipients
Accessible description of Chart 1.6

Environment and Energy

Ending Green Energy Contracts and the Cap-and-Trade Carbon Tax, and Introducing New Environmental Initiatives

The government will tackle climate change in a balanced and responsible way, without placing an additional burden on Ontario taxpayers. Specifically, the government has cancelled the cap-and-trade carbon tax, is challenging the federal government’s carbon tax plan, and reducing taxes to encourage a more competitive business climate.

As part of the plan to reduce costs for Ontario families and businesses, the Province took immediate action to end the cap-and-trade carbon tax. This will ensure that no additional carbon costs are passed on by fuel suppliers to consumers. The Province also developed a responsible and transparent plan to wind down the cap-and-trade carbon tax, and through the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, 2018, will offer some support for eligible participants of Ontario’s previous cap-and-trade carbon tax program.

Through the government’s actions, the average Ontario household will now save about $260 a year in fuel and other costs. Business savings as a result of lower energy costs will benefit Ontario residents through lower prices in everyday purchases, and help businesses to grow and create jobs. Eliminating the cap-and-trade carbon tax reduced gasoline prices by 4.3 cents per litre, saving people and businesses money.

In addition, the Province has cancelled 758 renewable energy contracts across Ontario to help lower electricity bills for Ontario residents and businesses. By cancelling these unnecessary, wasteful and highly subsidized energy contracts as part of the plan to cut electricity rates, the government is saving $790 million for ratepayers. Ontario currently has surplus electricity supply, and there are better and less expensive options to meet future electricity supply and capacity needs.

The Province is also fighting against the federal government’s plan to impose a carbon tax on Ontario families and businesses. The Ontario government has filed a statement with the Court of Appeal summarizing the arguments it will make challenging the constitutionality of the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. Premier Ford and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe have jointly released a statement on combining forces to challenge the federal government’s authority to impose a carbon tax on the people of Ontario and Saskatchewan. Along with Ontario and Saskatchewan, a growing number of provinces, including Manitoba, are planning to oppose the federal carbon tax.

Chart 1.7: Jenny and George
Accessible description of Chart 1.7

In the coming months, the government will release an integrated made-in-Ontario environmental plan to fight climate change and keep the province’s air, land and water clean for future generations. Consultations will be held to ensure Ontario will continue to be a leader in protecting the environment, while at the same time, respecting and protecting taxpayers.

Renewable Energy Approvals

The previous government had ratepayers subsidize unnecessary and expensive new energy projects to produce energy that people do not need. The proposed legislation to repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009 would make amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, which would enhance the government’s authority to make regulations prohibiting the issuance of Renewable Energy Approvals where the need for the electricity has not been demonstrated.

Green Bonds

Green Bonds serve as an important tool to help finance projects that support the government’s approach to addressing environmental challenges. Project categories include transit initiatives, extreme-weather resistant infrastructure, and energy conservation and efficiency projects (including health- and education-related projects). By capitalizing on low interest rates, Ontario’s Green Bonds enable the Province to raise funds while respecting the taxpayers of Ontario and without adversely impacting businesses. See Chapter IV: Borrowing and Debt Management for more details on Ontario’s Green Bond program.

Restoring Public Confidence in Hydro One

In July 2018, the government accepted a proposed agreement from Hydro One that included the retirement of Hydro One’s former chief executive officer (whose total compensation was over $6 million in 2017) and the resignation of the board of directors.

In August 2018, a new, highly qualified board was appointed and the Hydro One Accountability Act, 2018 was proclaimed. The Act requires the board to establish a new executive compensation framework within six months, and Hydro One is required to annually publish a record of executive compensation amounts and any proposed changes to its compensation policies. An amendment was also made to the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, to ensure that compensation paid to Hydro One executives is not funded from electricity rates.

These changes will help improve transparency and accountability at Hydro One, and address executive and board compensation.

Health Care Transformation

The government is committed to transforming the province’s public health care system centred around patients and their families, and finding ways to make the system run more efficiently. To ensure the people of Ontario receive the care they deserve, the government is targeting funding to provide better coordinated care now and in the future. For patients and their families, this means improved access to integrated health care.

Ending Hallway Health Care

The health care system is facing significant capacity challenges with unsustainable hospital occupancy levels contributing to the use of hallway health care. This significantly impedes patient access to safe, high-quality care. Without additional capacity and the development of innovative solutions and approaches, current challenges will increase.

Photo of doctor and patient with text: Ending hallway health care

With advice from the Premier’s Council on Improving Health Care and Ending Hallway Medicine, the government will continue to take actions that will ease pressure on hospitals, and help doctors, nurses and other health care providers provide better, faster health care for patients and their families.

The government has started delivering on its promise to end hallway health care. In 2018–19, the government has invested an additional $90 million for 1,100 beds and spaces in hospitals and the community, including the creation of over 640 new beds and spaces as an immediate measure. This investment will help communities and reduce the strain on the health care system in advance of the flu season.

Map of Ontario with text: 6000 new long-term care beds across Ontario

The Province is also adding 6,000 new long-term care beds across Ontario. The government is committed to investing more than $300 million to support these new beds, which represent the first wave of more than 15,000 new long-term care beds the government committed to build over the next five years.

Mental Health and Addictions

Approximately 30 per cent of people in Ontario age 15 and up will experience a mental health or addictions challenge at some point in their lives, with one in 40 experiencing a serious mental illness. The government made a promise to the people of Ontario to take mental health and addictions as seriously as any health issue. Ontario has committed to spending $1.9 billion over 10 years on mental health and addictions services, matching the federal government’s 2017 budget commitment.

The government will be working closely with front-line care providers, along with mental health and addictions organizations, hospitals and, most importantly, patients to ensure that the people of Ontario get the mental health care they need. Investments this year will provide much-needed relief that will help end hallway health care and connect people struggling with mental health and addictions issues with crucial supports. Most importantly, these investments focus on people, not process.

The investments will:

  • Prioritize a reduction in wait times and focus on creating support today to intervene early, so patients can receive the help they need to recover sooner;
  • Provide faster access by investing in mental health and opioid addiction treatment services; and
  • Provide a new, enhanced approach to addictions treatment and rehabilitation services through the new Consumption and Treatment Services model.

Access to Treatment

The government knows that demand for addictions services exceeds supply in Ontario, often leaving people waiting for services while in a vulnerable state.

The Province is providing funding to expand the scope and coverage of Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinics for individuals with substance abuse issues that require specialized, evidenced-based addiction medicine support by creating new or expanded RAAMs in communities of high need.

RAAM clinics provide patients with immediate access to low-barrier, short-term addictions treatment until the patient is stabilized and can be linked with appropriate care in the community for ongoing support.

OHIP+ and Ontario Drug Benefit Program Reform

Ontario’s Government for the People is fixing OHIP+ to focus benefits on those who need them most. Starting in March 2019, children and youth under the age of 25 who are not covered by private plans will continue to receive coverage for eligible prescription medications from the government; while children and youth who are covered by private insurance will bill those plans. This plan will be affordable, while ensuring that children and youth will still receive the prescription drugs they need.

These reforms are expected to generate annual savings of at least $250 million. The government promised that it would find efficiencies while ensuring that vital public services are affordable and sustainable, now and in the years to come. Promise made, promise kept.

The government will also review opportunities to establish a smarter, more efficient and fiscally responsible approach to delivering publicly funded health benefits, one that would treat everyone fairly, while maintaining patient care.

As a first step, the government will examine the Ontario Drug Benefit Program with the objective of creating an easier to understand, more consistent and more sustainable drug system.

Personal Support Worker Agency Review

Some programs initiated by the previous government simply do not work. That is why the government has wound down the Self-Directed Personal Support Services Ontario agency to reduce the administrative burden of delivering home care. This decision aligns with the government’s review of all Provincial agencies to ensure they are relevant, efficient, effective and provide value for money for taxpayers.

Taxpayer savings will be redirected to patient care. Since this agency was in the set-up phase and not yet providing services, the wind down has had no impact on home care clients. The Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) will continue to provide services and support to eligible clients and families under another self-directed care initiative, the Family-Managed Home Care program.

Home care services are vital to patients and families in Ontario’s health care system. Home care includes nursing, personal support and other professional services that are delivered in a person’s home, school or community.

Ontario is committed to engaging with partners to ensure the home care system works for patients, seniors and families, and that dollars are best spent on client care.

Celebrating Special Hockey Day

Special Hockey is a version of ice hockey played by athletes with developmental disabilities or cognitive disorders. It promotes confidence, socialization, team work and physical fitness for its players.

The government proposes to formally recognize March 27, 2019 as Special Hockey Day. This coincides with the start of the 25th Annual Special Hockey International tournament which will be held in Toronto. Recognizing Special Hockey Day will bring awareness about the many special hockey organizations across Ontario, and celebrates the contributions of teams, players and organizers involved in this important initiative.

Transit and Transportation

Ontario’s economy loses billions of dollars each year in lost productivity due to gridlock. Infrastructure investments in the province’s biggest cities and smallest towns are closely tied to economic and productivity growth. The government is keeping its promise to build a safe and efficient transportation network, in order that businesses, families and workers can count on an Ontario that will move faster than ever before.

The government looks forward to completing its review of all capital projects and intends to share details in the coming months.

Toronto Transit Commission Subway Upload

Ontario will develop a plan to upload responsibility for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) subway infrastructure from the City of Toronto to the Province. Taking this action would allow the Province to implement a more efficient and modern regional transit system that will serve the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area’s growing communities, while helping to manage traffic congestion, reduce costs and drive economic development.

The TTC system is critical to the economic success of the region. Uploading the subway system will enable the Province to fund and deliver additional transit projects sooner, and support an integrated regional network. In August 2018, the government appointed a special advisor to help determine the best approach for the upload, including the building and maintenance of new and existing subway lines.

Review of High-Speed Rail

Planning work is underway to analyze a range of transportation options to meet the needs of the people and businesses of Southwestern Ontario. The Province is exploring the potential for a faster and more reliable passenger rail service, including options to either upgrade existing rail corridors, create new ones or utilize other forms of transportation. The results of this planning work will include input from stakeholders such as rural and farming communities, and will help inform future transportation decisions, so that the Province can implement the right transportation options for the people of Ontario.

Freezing Driver’s Licence Fees

As part of the strategy to make life more affordable, the government reversed a decision by the previous administration to escalate fees on September 1, 2018. This freeze means that individuals who are getting their driver’s licence for the first time — or simply getting their licence renewed — will save money. This freeze also applies to fees for road and knowledge tests for all driver’s licence classes. This leaves more money in the pockets of individuals and families in Ontario.

End of Mandatory Drive Clean Testing for Light-Duty Vehicles

On September 28, 2018, the government announced the cancellation of the outdated Drive Clean passenger vehicle program, saving Ontario taxpayers approximately $40 million annually. This change will reduce regulations by shifting focus to the biggest polluters on Ontario’s roads. Effective April 1, 2019, drivers will no longer be required to get Drive Clean emissions tests for their passenger and light-duty vehicles.

Photo of highway with text: Ending drive clean, saving taxpayer dollars

At the time of its introduction, the Drive Clean program effectively reduced vehicle pollution. However, auto industry standards have significantly improved since the program was created in 1999, making this outdated program no longer necessary.

A new, enhanced program will focus on heavy-duty vehicles such as commercial transport trucks and will ensure that Ontario continues to reduce harmful smog-causing pollutants.

This change will lead to better environmental outcomes at a lower overall cost, meaning better value for taxpayer dollars.

Greater Toronto Area West Highway Corridor

Ontario is doing the work necessary to resume the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Greater Toronto Area West Highway Corridor, which was suspended in 2015. The EA will identify and address transportation needs in a corridor study area covering portions of York, Peel and Halton regions. Building more transportation infrastructure would speed up travel, and help alleviate traffic congestion in the Greater Toronto Area.

Metrolinx Agency Review

As urban areas across Central Ontario and particularly the Greater Golden Horseshoe become more integrated and connected, a regional transit system is an increasingly important element to promoting mobility and economic competitiveness. Metrolinx has a critical role in building and expanding a regional transit network that meets the needs and expectations of a growing customer base. Subject to approval by the legislature, the government is proposing amendments to the Metrolinx Act, 2006 that would modernize the outdated legislation to enhance the agency’s focus on regional transit delivery and service excellence. The Ministry of Transportation will continue work on a broader transportation plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe that will guide Metrolinx’s transit implementation work, and ensure that highway and transit investments are coordinated to keep people and businesses in the region moving. The Metrolinx Agency Review aligns with the government’s review of all Provincial agencies to ensure they are relevant, efficient, effective and use taxpayer dollars appropriately.

Housing Supply Action Plan

Increasing Housing Supply

A growing number of individuals and families face housing affordability challenges, in part because of inadequate supply. In recent years, demand for housing in Ontario, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area, has risen at a rapid rate, driven in part by strong population growth and low interest rates. At the same time, new housing supply has not kept pace, leading to sharply higher prices and rents. The responsiveness of housing supply to changes in demand has declined since the last recession and compared to other periods of strong housing demand.

Chart 1.8: New Residential Construction Less Responsive to Changing Demand
Accessible description of Chart 1.8

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will launch a Housing Supply Action Plan in spring 2019. The multi-pronged Action Plan will be aimed at increasing housing supply by addressing barriers that inhibit the development of ownership and rental housing. This plan will be informed by public and stakeholder consultation that will begin immediately. The focus of the Action Plan will be on actions that can be taken to help increase supply quickly as well as longer term actions that will be rolled out over the next 18 months.

Rental Housing Market in Ontario

Good quality, affordable housing is critical to building a strong economy. Many people in Ontario face challenges in finding suitable, affordable rental accommodations, in part due to an extended period of underbuilding of rental units. Since 1992, rental unit construction has not matched household formation. Approximately 20 per cent of Ontario households live in purpose-built rental housing. In 2017, the level of new rental construction would accommodate only 10 per cent of new Ontario households. If construction of rental units had kept pace with underlying demand, construction would have started on an additional 6,100 units in 2017.

Chart 1.9: Low Rental Vacancy Rates
Accessible description of Chart 1.9

This undersupply of purpose-built rental units contributed to historically low vacancy rates in the rental market. Rent control policies that weaken investment incentives and construction activity have played a role in limiting supply growth in purpose-built rental housing. Strong increases in the supply of condominiums, which until recently were not subject to rent-control guidelines, have helped keep the market better balanced.

To address these challenges, the government will enact policies to increase the supply of housing across Ontario. Part of this initiative will be the reintroduction of the rent control exemption that will apply to new rental units first occupied after today. This will help create market-based incentives for supply growth that will encourage an increase in housing supply to meet the needs of the people of Ontario. As well, the government will cancel the Development Charges Rebate Program. This program is an expensive and ineffective method to incentivize new housing supply, and cancelling it will result in savings of approximately $100 million over four years. The Province will follow through on its commitment to preserve rent control for existing tenants. This balanced approach will protect existing renters while creating the right conditions to increase the supply of rental units.

Building More Efficient Regulators

Auto Insurance

Making Auto Insurance More Affordable

The government is committed to lowering auto insurance rates to make life more affordable for the nearly 10 million drivers across the province. The government is working with stakeholders across the auto insurance system to explore options to lower rates in a responsible way, while ensuring that the needs of the people are served.

Ending Discrimination in Auto Insurance Rates

Ensuring fairness in auto insurance rate setting and ending discriminatory practices is a goal of this government. Under the leadership of the Member of Provincial Parliament for Milton, Parm Gill, legislation has been introduced that, if passed, would eliminate the unfair practice of discriminating against drivers simply based on where they live. The government will work with the insurance industry to ensure that the auto insurance system puts Ontario drivers first, offers more consumer choice, and promotes fairness and personal responsibility.

Reducing Regulatory Burden in Auto Insurance

The government is seeking to reduce burden in the auto insurance market by conducting a review of how auto insurance rates are regulated. The government will be conducting this review jointly with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario, a new independent regulator that is designed to be flexible and responsive to dynamic changes in the marketplace, as well as industry and consumer expectations. The review will examine practices in other jurisdictions and identify opportunities to achieve greater efficiencies and introduce more competition in the system.

Fostering Auto Insurance Innovation

Recent innovations in the insurance sector require an equally innovative response from the regulator. The government is committed to creating a regulatory framework that allows for a more modern auto insurance sector, including:

  • Electronic communications, and electronic proof of auto insurance;
  • Innovative insurance products, such as usage-based insurance technology; and
  • Full electronic commerce, similar to what is already provided by other financial institutions, including banks and credit unions.

Ensuring Consumer Confidence in Financial Advice

In Ontario today, there is no consistent regulatory oversight of financial planners and advisors. Families risk receiving financial planning and advisory services from individuals who may not be appropriately qualified to help them save for the future. The government will review measures to ensure that families can be confident in their choice of financial planner or advisor, knowing they are dealing with someone who has received appropriate training and is subject to regulatory oversight.

Education

Consultations for Parents

The Province is currently engaging in public consultations on education reform. The consultations, which began in September, focus on ways to improve Ontario’s education system. Approaches to teaching math, important life skills such as financial literacy, and a new Health and Physical Education curriculum that includes subjects such as mental health, sex-ed and the legalization of cannabis, are being considered. Consultations are conducted across multiple channels, including an online survey and telephone town halls in every region of Ontario.

To ensure that the rights of parents are respected, the Province will also begin drafting a Ministry of Education Parents’ Bill of Rights. Parents are being asked what elements they want to see included in the Parents' Bill of Rights as part of the provincewide consultation.

College of Teachers’ Reform

The government is proposing to amend the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 and Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007 in order to strengthen disciplinary measures so that any member found guilty of sexual abuse by the College’s Discipline Committee would be subject to the mandatory revocation of their certificate of registration. This change would protect Ontario’s children, ensure that schools and early years and child care settings are safe, and respect the rights of parents.

Ending Discovery Math

Math test scores among public elementary school students in Ontario have been steadily declining over the past decade. A comparison of student achievement results for the 2008–09 and 2017–18 school years, as published by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), shows the percentage of students who met the Provincial standard in mathematics fell from 70 per cent to 61 per cent among third graders, and from 63 per cent to 49 per cent among sixth graders.3

A discovery-based learning environment does not teach students the fundamentals of basic math. Good math skills are critical for students striving to be scientists and engineers. Recognizing the central role that education systems play in developing foundational math skills, the government has directed school boards to focus on the fundamentals in the delivery of the math curriculum. Beginning in 2020, new teachers will have to pass a math content knowledge test to be certified to teach in Ontario.

Numeracy is an essential skill to succeed in school, the workforce and in everyday life. Early math skills are a strong predictor — even more so than reading skills — of later academic achievement and success in the labour market.4

Free Speech on Campus

Colleges and universities should be places for open discussion and debate. This is why the government is taking immediate action to protect free speech, and respect the open exchange of ideas and opinions on every Ontario publicly funded university and college campus.

Colleges and universities will have until January 1, 2019 to develop, implement and comply with a free speech policy that meets a minimum standard set by the government and is based on best practices from around the world. The policy will uphold free speech, while discouraging hate speech, discrimination or speech that violates the law on campus.

Starting September 2019, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) will monitor progress. Each institution will be required to prepare an annual report on its progress in complying with its free speech policy, publish it online and submit it to HEQCO. A college or university that does not introduce, report on, or comply with its free speech policy may be subject to a reduction in operating grant funding. Students who contravene free speech policy are subject to existing campus disciplinary measures.

Social Assistance

Reforming Social Assistance

Social assistance programs are an important part of Ontario's social safety net, and the government is committed to helping those who are most vulnerable. Ontario will present a plan to reform social assistance that will improve employment outcomes and cut red tape to help more people break the cycle of poverty, re-enter the workforce and get back on track.

Pensions

Cutting Red Tape for Retirees

The government is moving forward with legislative and regulatory changes that, if passed, will facilitate the implementation of variable benefit accounts, allowing retired members of defined contribution pension plans to receive income directly from their plans. The introduction of variable benefit accounts will expand the options available and reduce red tape for retirees with defined contribution pension plans.

Secure Communities and Safer Streets

People need to feel safe in their homes and communities. The government is taking action to provide police services with the resources they need to enforce the law and protect innocent families from drug, gun and gang-related violence. 

Guns and Gangs Initiative

Photo of police car with text: Protecting our communities

Ontario is committed to continuing to work with its policing partners to combat gun crime and gang violence. The government is investing $25 million in new funding over four years to fight guns and gangs in the City of Toronto. This investment is in addition to the $76 million over four years already being provided to support the Toronto Police Service. This funding would provide additional digital, investigative and analytical resources necessary for fighting drug gangs and criminals. In addition, the government has established an Intensive Firearm Bail Support Team, led by five Crown Attorneys, who are working with police to develop local expertise to ensure that the strongest possible evidence is placed before the court when the Crown is seeking detention for serious firearm charges. This team has been up and running since October 1, 2018. At the same time, another team will focus exclusively on ensuring that those offenders who are out on bail are not violating any terms of their release.

Investing in Community Infrastructure

The government is investing to replace aging facilities with nine new Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachments, so communities can continue to receive modern, cost effective and high-quality police services that are essential to public safety. All nine detachments will be replaced under one major infrastructure project.

The government will also be taking immediate action to keep the people of Ontario safe and protect communities by replacing the province’s crumbling Public Safety Radio Network which front-line and emergency responders rely on during emergencies. Replacing this aging system with state-of-the-art technology will provide a critical resource to paramedics, police officers, fire services and other front-line and emergency responders to protect and keep individuals and families safe across Ontario.

Improving Access to Justice

To improve access to justice and promote program efficiency, the government plans to review those adjudicative tribunals and tribunal clusters that are accountable to the Ministry of the Attorney General. This review is part of the government’s plan to ensure that programs are effective, affordable and sustainable.

Illegal Tobacco

The availability of illegal, untaxed tobacco undermines Ontario’s tax system, creates an unfair business advantage, and compromises the health and public safety of Ontario families. EY Canada’s line-by-line review estimates illegal tobacco accounts for $750 million in lost Provincial revenue annually.

That is why the Ministry of Finance will launch a public awareness campaign that informs the public about how to identify illegal tobacco, and the consequences and risks of participating in the illegal market.

The ministry is also undertaking a comprehensive review of tobacco tax regulation and enforcement with a view to reducing the size of the illegal tobacco market through new partnerships with law enforcement and First Nations.

The Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Team within the Ontario Provincial Police, which focuses on links between organized crime and illegal tobacco, has hired additional staff over the summer and will soon have doubled in size. The ministry will also launch a tobacco enforcement grants program to create incentives for local and regional police to take on more investigations into illegal tobacco.

Sudden and sharp increases to tobacco taxation rates over recent years have played a role in pushing individuals into the illegal market. In an effort to stem this flow, Provincial Tobacco Tax rates will remain at their current levels in 2019.

Honouring Ontario’s Veterans

Afghanistan Veterans’ Memorial

Ontario is committed to building a monument within the legislative precinct at Queen’s Park to honour the Canadian veterans who served in the war in Afghanistan. The monument will memorialize those who did not make it home, and symbolize the sacrifices these heroes made to protect our values and freedoms. Completion is expected by fall 2019.

Property Tax Exemption for the Royal Canadian Legion

The Royal Canadian Legion provides important support to veterans and their families in many communities across Ontario.

Currently, most municipalities support their local Legion branch by providing property tax relief. Like these municipalities, the Province recognizes the valuable services that Legions provide to local veterans, their families and the broader community. That is why the government is proposing an amendment to the Assessment Act which would, if passed, create a provincewide property tax exemption for properties occupied by Ontario branches of the Royal Canadian Legion, starting in 2019.

The government is proud of the work that Legions do in making Ontario communities a better place. This long-overdue measure would ensure that all Legion branches in every Ontario community are treated consistently and equitably with respect to property taxes.

Increasing Convenience for the People

Putting Money Back in Consumers’ Pockets

To prevent an immediate increase in beer prices, the government is taking action to halt the legislated three cents per litre increase in beer basic tax rates scheduled for November 1, 2018. This tax hike, put in place by the previous government, would have cost consumers an additional 25 cents for a 24-pack. The proposed changes would lock the current basic tax rates for beer at their current levels and leave more money in the pockets of Ontario beer fans.

Going forward, the government will continue to review the tax regime with respect to beverage alcohol as part of its plan to save money for consumers, reduce red tape and put people first.

Earlier this year, the government also brought back buck-a-beer by reducing the minimum price floor for beer to $1.00 per bottle plus deposit. To encourage brewers to lower their prices, the Premier formally launched the “Buck-a-Beer Challenge.” Barley Days Brewery, Cool Beer Brewing Company and President’s Choice all accepted this challenge, and a number of buck-a-beer products were available at the LCBO and the Beer Store. Since this initiative was launched on August 27, 2018, the people of Ontario have purchased more than 50,000 cases and have saved $600,000. Consumers can continue to purchase buck-a-beer products at select LCBO locations and online.

Increasing Choice in the Retail Distribution of Alcohol

Alcohol reform is something long-desired by the people of Ontario. The government is committed to modernizing the rules for the retail and consumption of beverage alcohol in Ontario by acknowledging that the province is mature enough for this change and ready to join other jurisdictions in making life a little more convenient. As part of this commitment, a level playing field will be encouraged by expanding the sale of beer and wine into corner stores, grocery stores and big-box stores based on market demand as opposed to government decree. To inform this plan, a comprehensive review of the beverage alcohol sector will be completed. This review will include opportunities for consumers and businesses to provide input on a range of issues that impact Ontario’s rules around the sale and consumption of beer, cider, wine and spirits.

As an immediate first step in modernizing the sector, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will align the permissible hours of operation for retailers, including the Beer Store, the LCBO and authorized grocery stores, by enabling them to sell beverage alcohol from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week. This change will improve choice, access and convenience, and will allow consumers to make responsible choices that work best for them.

Cannabis Retail Implementation

The federal government legalized recreational cannabis beginning on October 17, 2018. In response, the government of Ontario has been working to develop a robust distribution and private retail system that protects children and youth, keeps roads safe and combats the illegal market.

The government consulted on legislation with municipalities, Indigenous communities, law enforcement agencies, public health advocates, school boards, and business and consumer groups. The main message heard was to ensure that cannabis distribution and retail is tightly controlled.

The message was received loud and clear. That is why the government established the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) as the regulator for private cannabis retail stores. The government heard from many people, including municipal leaders, who agreed that the AGCO could leverage its existing experience, expertise and infrastructure to effectively regulate cannabis retail stores, and build on its mandate to regulate in the public interest. The AGCO, which has an embedded Ontario Provincial Police unit, would strictly enforce the Provincial rules, including the minimum age of 19 years for those who purchase recreational cannabis and a zero-tolerance approach to any retailer who sells cannabis to a minor. Those who do not follow the rules will face hefty fines and risk losing their retail licence. There will be serious consequences for retailers who break the law.

The Province has also aligned cannabis consumption rules with the restrictions set out in the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017. Under the Act, smoking and vaping cannabis is strictly prohibited near schools, children’s playgrounds, hospitals and child care facilities — among other areas. Any form of recreational cannabis consumption is prohibited in motor vehicles and boats. In addition, municipalities have the ability to toughen the rules to further restrict smoking, including in other outdoor spaces such as parks, through bylaws. Municipalities can establish more restrictive rules for smoking to fit their specific communities and their specific needs. The Province intends to introduce legislation to amend the Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Toronto Act, 2006 to further clarify municipalities’ authority in this respect.

In order to protect young people and keep Ontario roads and communities safe, the government has made the safe distribution and retail of cannabis its number one concern. The government has taken a balanced approach with tough rules to prevent selling to children and youth, while at the same time allowing the market to develop in order to drive the illegal operators out of business. The government’s decision to move to private retail stores means that it has avoided Ontario Cannabis Store capital expenditures of $1 million per planned store, for savings of nearly $150 million by 2020.

Clearly, cannabis is not a benign substance. Those who choose to consume cannabis should use responsibly, exercise moderation and never consume and drive.

Chart Descriptions

Chart 1.6: Tax Relief for LIFT Credit Recipients

This chart provides three examples of the amount of Ontario Personal Income Tax (PIT), excluding the Ontario Health Premium, payable before and after the Low-income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit.

Leftmost section: Jane is a single person with no dependants and $29,200 of employment income, only. In 2019, without the LIFT Credit, Jane would have paid about $850 in Ontario PIT. The LIFT Credit, however, would reduce the amount of Ontario PIT payable by $850 to zero.

Middle section: David is a single senior who has both employment and non-employment income. David earns employment income of $15,500, and receives $5,500 as a Canada Pension Plan benefit and $7,000 in Old Age Security payments, resulting in a total income of $28,000. In 2019, without the LIFT Credit, David would have paid about $605 in Ontario PIT. The LIFT Credit, however, would reduce the amount of Ontario PIT payable by $605 to zero.

Rightmost section: Jenny and George are a two-earner couple with one child aged 13 (for whom child care expenses are not incurred). In 2019, Jenny has employment income of $29,000 and non-employment income of $3,500, while George has $29,500 in employment income only. In 2019, without the LIFT Credit, the family would have paid $1,510 in Ontario PIT in total. The LIFT Credit, however, would reduce the family’s Ontario PIT payable by $1,250, reducing their combined Ontario PIT to $260.

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Chart 1.7: Jenny and George

This figure provides an example of how the government is putting more money in people’s pockets. The government is delivering immediate pocketbook relief to the people of Ontario through the proposed new Low-income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit and cancellation of the cap-and-trade carbon tax.

To illustrate the impact, imagine a couple, Jenny and George, who work full-time and have one child. They take home a combined family income of $62,000 annually. The LIFT Credit would put $1,250 a year back in their pockets, and the cancellation of the cap-and-trade carbon tax would save them an estimated additional $280 a year – for total savings of $1,530 in 2019. This would represent significant relief for this family.

Notes: This example is for illustrative purposes. The LIFT Credit amount is based on Personal Income Tax filer data and is representative of actual families who would receive the LIFT Credit, and whose main characteristics include: first-earner employment income of $29,000 and other income of $3,500, second-earner employment income of $29,500, and no child care expenses. Average savings from cancelling the cap-and-trade carbon tax are based on Statistics Canada survey data. Impacts on individual households would vary depending on many factors, such as spending patterns and levels of savings. Estimates include direct and indirect savings and additional savings from the Harmonized Sales Tax.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance.

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Chart 1.8: New Residential Construction Less Responsive to Changing Demand

The bar chart shows the estimated percentage point increase in the new supply of housing for every one percentage point increase in real house price. For the period of 1983 to 2008 the average increase is 1.9 percentage points; for the period of 1998 to 2005, the average increase is 2.6 percentage points; and for the period of 2009 to 2017, the average increase is 1.1 percentage points.

Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Real Estate Association and Ontario Ministry of Finance.

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Chart 1.9: Low Rental Vacancy Rates

The line chart shows the rental vacancy rates in Ontario and Toronto between 1992 and 2017. The vacancy rate in both Ontario and Toronto generally declines between 1992 and 2000, rises between 2000 and 2004, and then declines between 2004 and 2017.

  Ontario Toronto
1992 2.6 2.2
1993 2.7 2.0
1994 2.4 1.2
1995 2.3 0.8
1996 3.0 1.2
1997 2.8 0.8
1998 2.6 0.8
1999 2.1 0.9
2000 1.6 0.6
2001 1.7 0.9
2002 2.7 2.5
2003 3.5 3.8
2004 4.1 4.3
2005 3.8 3.7
2006 3.4 3.2
2007 3.3 3.2
2008 2.7 2.0
2009 3.5 3.1
2010 2.9 2.1
2011 2.2 1.4
2012 2.5 1.7
2013 2.6 1.6
2014 2.3 1.6
2015 2.4 1.6
2016 2.1 1.3
2017 1.6 1.0

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

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Footnotes

Updated: November 15, 2018
Published: November 15, 2018