Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government is announcing their first provincial budget this afternoon, as Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli is expected to unveil the province's fiscal plans to the public.
According to CityNews, Premier Ford has indicated that the financial plan provides a "thoughtful path to a balanced budget," but he has not yet mentioned how long it'll be until the province eliminate its $13.5-billion deficit. So far, the province has reduced its deficit by $1-billion. Based on Ontario's third-quarter finances, the reduction is largely attributed to increased sales and corporate income tax revenues.
Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy has told reporters that he hopes to decrease financial waste - including the $12.5-billion of expenditure each year that the province accrues as interest on its nearly $350-billion debt.
Here's what we already know about the budget:
According to CBC News, a partial rebate of daycare costs will be a core component of the Ontario government's first budget. Prior to coming to power last year, the Progressive Conservative government promised $450 of rebates to cover child-care costs for a middle-income household with one child under the age of 6.
Yesterday, Premier Ford also announced the "Ontario Line" - Toronto's new downtown TTC relief line. Ford unveiled the provincial government's $28.5-billion plan for new transit construction in the GTA this morning. The province's $11.2-billion commitment to funding the project accounts for over one-third of the total cost of the four transit projects.
According to Ford, who spoke at an event in Burlington yesterday, the provincial government's transit plans entail "the largest infrastructure project in transit in North America." He claims, "It's going to be $28.5-billion that we're looking to invest into Ontario to get people moving."
CBC News also reported that the provincial budget will account for free dental care for low-income seniors. Ontario's dental program, which was promised by the Progressive Conservatives as part of their election platform, will cost the province almost $100-million annually.
Senior government sources - who were not yet permitted to speak publicly about the budget - notified reporters that Ontarians ages 65 and over earning less than $19,300 per year (or $32,300 per year for couples) will be eligible for free dental care.
According to these sources, "We're quite encouraged this will make a difference. It's really aimed at those who don't have a supplementary source of income."
The free dental care service will be made accessible through public health facilities, community health centres, and aboriginal health access centres. Mobile dental facilities are being considered for future services.
The province also plans to cut 3 per cent of Ontario's current teacher workforce - about 3,475 full-time positions - by the 2022-2023 school year. As a result, class sizes are expected to grow in exchange for total savings of $851-million.
Also in the budget will be the costs of changing Ontario's trillium logo, as well as the costs of putting a new slogan on Ontario license plates. Ontario's official flower will be replaced with an updated logo, ultimately to be used for all government branding, including provincial websites, signs, advertising, and letterhead.
The rebrand will have an $89,000 price tag attached to it, according to a senior government official who spoke to CBC News. The fee is "less than half of what the Liberals spent on the previous logo," said the official.
The legalization of tailgate parties outside sporting events will be included in the budget plans announced this afternoon. According to a report by the Toronto Sun, Ontarians will soon be able to reveal in what has long been a staple for U.S. sports events - that makeshift party in the parking lot we all know as “tailgating”.
The budget will formally be announced by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, this afternoon at Queen's Park in Toronto.