Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THURSDAY, NOV. 5, 2020

2020 Budget provides more resources to strengthen frontline health care, support people and employers, and lay the groundwork for recovery in Bay of Quinte

Today, Finance Minister Rod Phillips released Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover – the next phase of a comprehensive action plan to respond to the serious health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Ontario’s Action Plan now sets out a total of $45 billion in support over three years to make available the necessary health resources to continue protecting people, deliver critical programs and tax measures to support individuals, families and job creators impacted by the virus, and lay the groundwork for a robust long-term economic recovery for the province.

"The next phase of Ontario's Action Plan makes available every necessary resource to continue protecting people's health during the second wave of COVID-19 and beyond," said Phillips. "We’re providing new support to those who have been hardest hit, including parents, seniors and small business owners, while making sure we are removing barriers to enable the necessary growth for job creation and Ontario’s long-term economic recovery.”

The 2020 Budget is protecting frontline health care, supporting people and employers, and laying the foundation for economic recovery across the province, including people in Bay of Quinte by:

  • Replacing existing hospital on the Picton site with a new facility through the Quinte Health Care Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Redevelopment Project to meet increasing demand for health services in the area. (Protect – page 54)
  • Building a new English Catholic elementary school in Picton that will serve 354 students. (Support – page 67)
  • Providing $1.1 million to fund active transportation/pedestrian services, 17 new bus stops and eight new transit shelters in Belleville. (Recover – page 138)
  • Providing $1.1 million for the purchase of surveillance systems for 21 buses and Smart Card technology (fare boxes) for 17 buses and a collision avoidance system on six buses in Quinte West. (Recover – page 138)
  • Redeveloping Kingston Health Sciences to replace outdated facilities and accommodate growth in demand for acute health-care services. (Protect – page 54)

“Our government has spent months consulting with communities across the province on how to respond best to COVID-19 to ensure we protect, support and respond,” said Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte. “This includes initiatives like tax cuts, hydro bill relief, new supports for seniors, expanded infrastructure and staycation incentives to aid our local economy. People in Bay of Quinte and across Ontario will benefit from this action plan.”

Protect

In total, Ontario’s COVID-19 health response is now a projected $15.2 billion. The government is making available $4 billion in 2021-22 and a further $2 billion in 2022-23 to ensure the Province can remain responsive to evolving needs in the fight against the pandemic. The 2020–21 spending includes $2.8 billion to support the Province’s Fall Preparedness Plan for Health, Long-Term Care and Education – the most comprehensive and robust plan in the country to respond to the second wave of COVID-19. It also includes additional funding to support hospital beds, address the surgical backlog and purchase additional influenza vaccines.

The government is also investing an additional $572 million in Ontario’s hospitals to support additional costs of COVID-19 including testing, assessment centres, laboratory and medical equipment, and PPE. This brings the total funding to hospitals above and beyond what was provided last year to over $2.5 billion. The Province is investing more than $18 billion in capital grants over 10 years to build new and expanded hospital infrastructure and address urgent upgrades, including repairs and maintenance to help modernize hospitals across Ontario.

To protect loved ones in long-term care from a second wave, and to address long standing issues in the system, Ontario is providing over half a billion dollars to enable necessary renovations and measures to improve infection prevention and control, allow for the purchase of more personal protective equipment (PPE), and to build a strong health care workforce. While Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission is completing its review, the government is acting immediately to protect Ontario’s most vulnerable people. The Province plans to increase average daily direct care of long-term care residents from a nurse or personal support worker to four hours a day. This additional care will be phased in over the next four years and will make Ontario the leader among Canadian provinces. This ambitious plan will require significant changes in the long-term care sector, including recruiting and training tens of thousands of new staff.

“Since Day 1 of the pandemic, protecting people has been our government’s No. 1 priority,” said Phillips. “The health risks of COVID-19 remain extremely serious. We are making available every necessary resource to keep people safe, including our loved ones in long-term care and our frontline health care heroes during the second wave and beyond.”

Support

The government is now delivering an estimated $13.5 billion in total support for people and job creators as part of Ontario’s Action Plan. This additional relief will ensure families, seniors, businesses and workers are supported through the second wave of COVID-19 and beyond.

To help offset some of the additional costs of COVID-19, parents will once again receive $200 per child under age 12 and $250 for children and youth with special needs age 21 and under. This means a family with three young children, one of whom has special needs, would receive $1,300 in 2020.

The government is taking significant steps to protect seniors and allow them to stay in their homes longer. The Province is proposing a new Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit for the 2021 taxation year, which would provide a 25-per-cent credit on eligible renovations of up to $10,000. Seniors would be eligible regardless of their incomes and whether they owe income tax for 2021. Family members who have a senior living with them would also be eligible.

The Ontario government remains committed to supporting job creators through this unprecedented time. The government is making available $300 million in relief is available for eligible businesses in regions where the Province determines modified Stage 2 public health restrictions are necessary, or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. This will help cover fixed costs such as property taxes and energy bills. The government is also providing an additional $1.8 billion in the Support for People and Jobs Fund over the next two years to remain responsive to emerging needs and continue providing supports for the people of Ontario.

“COVID-19 has caused a global recession and Ontario has not been immune,” said Minister Phillips. “Every negative economic statistic represents a person who has lost their job, an anxious small business owner or a family struggling to make ends meet. Today we are providing new support to those who have been hardest hit, including parents, seniors and small business owners, while building on what has already been provided.”

Recover

While COVID-19 will impact Ontario and the entire world for the foreseeable future, the 2020 Budget begins to build the foundation for a strong economic recovery fuelled by growth. The government is planning to invest $4.8 billion in initiatives that will support jobs now, while removing barriers that would hold Ontario back from a strong recovery from COVID-19. Among the major initiatives proposed by the government are a reduction of job-killing electricity prices, reducing taxes on jobs, connecting unserved and underserved communities with a historic investment in broadband infrastructure, and providing workers with skills training – including those impacted by the pandemic, such as tourism and hospitality workers – to help them connect to jobs needing high-demand skills.

The government is also acting immediately to reduce taxes for job creators and level the playing field by lowering high provincial business property tax rates to a rate of 0.88 per cent for over 200,000 properties – or 94 per cent of all business properties in the province. This would create $450 million in annual savings in 2021, representing a 30 per cent reduction for many employers.

Ontario is going a step further to make available additional support for the employers most affected by COVID-19. The government has heard from some municipalities that they would like additional tools to provide more targeted tax relief to job creators in their community. Ontario is responding to requests from local governments by proposing to provide municipalities with the ability to cut property tax for small businesses and a provincial commitment to consider matching these reductions. This would provide small businesses as much as $385 million in total municipal and provincial property tax relief by 2022–23, depending on municipal adoption.

The province is also ending a tax on jobs for an additional 30,000 employers by proposing to make permanent the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption increase from $490,000 to $1 million. This would save private-sector employers $360 million in 2021–22 that could be reinvested in jobs and growth. About 90 per cent of employers would pay no EHT with this additional relief.

When employers are looking at Ontario as a place to do business, it’s clear the province’s high commercial and industrial electricity prices are a barrier to investment that causes some of them to go elsewhere. The 2020 Budget outlines a plan to reduce the burden on employers of Ontario’s high-cost contracts with non-hydro renewable energy producers, which will be wound down once and for all. Starting on January 1, 2021, a portion of the cost of these contracts, entered under the previous government, will be funded by the Province, not the ratepayers. This electricity cost relief would free up money that could be better spent creating jobs. Medium size and larger industrial and commercial employers would save about 14 and 16 per cent respectively, on average, on their bills starting in 2021. This means Ontario will go from having some of the least competitive electricity prices to prices that are more competitive than the average in the United States.

“All of us in Ontario are focused on getting through COVID-19,” said Minister Phillips. “It may be difficult to think about the future while still dealing with a global pandemic, but if we all do our part, COVID-19 will eventually be behind us. Our government has a responsibility to remove barriers to the growth necessary for job creation. The cost if Ontario falls behind while the rest of the world recovers is simply too high. We can’t afford to wait.”

The 2020 Budget provides transparency amidst a world of uncertainty, by outlining a flexible medium-term fiscal plan based on the latest economic projections. It also presents alternative scenarios demonstrating how the province’s fiscal outlook could change depending on the pace of the economic recovery. The government is projecting a deficit of $38.5 billion for 2020–21, which is unchanged from the deficit forecast at the time of the 2020–21 First Quarter Finances and reflects urgent spending necessary for the fight against COVID-19. Over the medium term, the government is forecasting steadily declining deficits of $33.1 billion in 2021–22 and $28.2 billion in 2022–23. Acknowledging the continued uncertainty of the global pandemic, the government plans to table a multi-year plan including a path to balance in the 2021 Budget by March 31, 2021.

QUICK FACTS

  • Since June, employment in Ontario has risen by 838,000 net jobs and, as of September, employment reached 95.8 per cent of the February 2020 level.
  • Ontario’s real GDP is projected to decline by 6.5 per cent in 2020 and rise by 4.9 per cent in 2021. Ontario’s economic growth is expected to continue after 2021, with real GDP projected to rise 3.5 per cent in 2022 before moderating to 2.0 per cent growth in 2023.
  • The Fiscal Sustainability, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2019 (FSTAA) requires the government to publish a recovery plan in the event a balanced budget is not projected in the final year of the multi-year fiscal plan. The Act also recognizes the need for flexibility and provides the ability to respond to changing circumstances. Given the continued and unprecedented uncertainty and risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the government is proposing amendments to FSTAA to pause the requirement to include a recovery plan in the 2020 Budget.
  • Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to release a fiscal outlook that reflected the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in its March 25, 2020 Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE


Ontario provides $556,270 to support nurse development at Quinte Health Care hospitals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 4, 2020

BAY OF QUINTE – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced today that Quinte Health Care will receive $556,270 in one-time funding through the Nursing Graduate Guarantee (NGG) initiative.

The Province introduced the program to prioritize recruitment and training within long-term care homes and acute care settings where surgical backlogs exist as a result of COVID-19, ensuring Ontario has the right distribution of appropriately trained nurses.

“We know how important skilled frontline nurses are in quality health care delivery,” said Smith. “This funding will help QHC to address its staffing needs and remain well positioned as we continue to face the impacts of this pandemic.”

An online portal will link registered nurses and registered practical nurses within 12 months of registering with the College of Nurses of Ontario to opportunities for full-time employment. The Ministry of Health will provide employers 20 weeks of funding for each new nurse approved to participate in the NGG. The investment includes 12 weeks of funding for the incoming nurse’s transition to full-time hours.

Further, the NGG provides eight weeks of funding to reinvest in the professional development of existing frontline nurses through mentorship programs, allowances to participate in nursing councils, patient teaching, research and educational courses, internships in specialty areas of practice, or support for innovative proposal to improve patient experience and care outcomes.

QHC’s Vice-President and Chief Nursing Officer, Carol Smith Romeril, was pleased to learn of the funding.

“Quinte Health Care’s need for more nurses is greater than ever as we continue to provide exceptional care through the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to attract new nursing graduates, provide them ample training thanks to the funding provided by the Ministry of Health, and add them to our nursing complement is advantageous for QHC and our community that is relying on us for care,” she said.

Smith Romeril added that “an additional benefit of the NGG is the supplementary funding we receive from the Ministry of Health to reinvest in the professional development of existing QHC nurses” and concluded, “We are extremely thankful to the Ministry of Health for this support.”

QUICK FACTS

  • The NGG portal can be accessed at nursescarerstart.health.gov.on.ca.
  • The NGG program is open to nurses who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a diploma from a practical nursing program in Canada or internationally educated nurses within 12 months of their registering with the College of Nurses of Ontario.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 


Ontario provides $2,813,000 to Quinte Health Care for transitional care beds, ICU capacity

BAY OF QUINTE – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced today that Quinte Health Care (QHC) hospitals will receive $2,813,000 from the Province to fund up to 29 additional transitional care beds and enhance Intensive Care Unit capacity.

“Quinte residents can rest assured that our government is doing everything it can to ensure our health professionals at Quinte Health Care have the resources they need to provide high-quality care during this pandemic,” said Smith. “This funding bolsters their capacity to respond to COVID-19, while continuing to offer the procedures we all depend on in a timely fashion.”

In the coming weeks, the transitional care beds will be allocated based on the greatest need across QHC’s four hospitals. The funding will also allow the regional ICU at Belleville to expand from 17 to 18 beds and upgrade three existing ICU beds to Level 3, which includes the ability to ventilate.                                                          

“We are grateful to the provincial government for this essential investment to help address increased capacity at hospitals across Ontario, including Quinte Health Care,” said Mary Clare Egberts, QHC President and Chief Executive Officer. “It’s an acknowledgement that the Ontario government is focused on supporting the health care needs of the communities we serve.”

Carol Smith Romeril, QHC Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, added “the pandemic has created pressures on hospitals, including more patients requiring an extended stay in hospital. Having the financial resources to support the delivery of safe, quality care to the high number of patients in our hospitals is essential as we face the uncertainties of the pandemic, combined with the upcoming flu season.”

The funds are part of the government’s $116.5-million investment to create 766 more beds at 32 hospitals and alternative health facilities across the province aimed at reducing surgical backlogs and improving access to care. These beds are in addition to an initial $234.5-million investment for 139 critical care beds and up to 1,349 hospital beds included in Ontario’s fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19. The total investment of $351 million will result in more than 2,250 new beds at 57 hospitals and alternate health facilities across Ontario.

“Our government is making the necessary investments to quickly and effectively increase hospital capacity and reduce wait times for patients and families in Bay of Quinte,” said Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This additional investment will ensure our health care system is able to respond to future waves of COVID-19 and help patients waiting for surgeries and other procedures get the care they need faster.”

The government is providing $2.8 billion through its COVID-19 fall preparedness plan. It focuses on addressing surges in COVID-19 cases and reducing health service backlogs by:

  • Extending hours for additional priority surgeries and diagnostic imaging;
  • Helping up to 850 alternate level of care patients access proper care in a home or community setting to help free up hospital capacity;
  • Expanding digital health and virtual services, which provide alternatives to in-person care that limit the transmission of COVID-19, while maintaining access to care;
  • Improving access to mental health and addictions services and supports; and
  • Increasing home and community care service by adding 484,000 nursing and therapy visits and 1.4 million personal support worker hours.

The Province continues to work with its health sector partners and Ontario Health to develop an integrated health system capacity plan in response to COVID-19. The government will continue to monitor and assess the health system’s needs and address any challenges hospitals may face – particularly in light of a recent increase in active cases. Smith said it remains vital for the government to continue to protect vulnerable populations and for each Ontarian to follow public health advice.

The government remains committed to providing necessary resources to protect people’s health and support families, workers, and business owners. Building on Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the Province’s $30-billion response to the pandemic, Ontario will release its 2020 Budget on Nov. 5.

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario previously invested $741 million to help clear the backlog of surgeries and build more health-care capacity to effectively manage surges and outbreaks in COVID-19 cases.
  • The Ontario government also released A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a comprehensive framework to help hospitals assess their readiness and begin planning for the gradual resumption of scheduled surgeries and procedures, while maintaining their ability to respond to COVID-19 and the flu season.
  • For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE

Visit covid-19.ontario.ca to learn more about how the Province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19.