7 Ways The Ontario 2023 Budget Could Save You Time & Money In Your Day To Day Life
The Ontario government has released its 2023 budget which is the largest in the province's history, at $204.7 billion, and makes a long list of spending commitments and cost-saving promises.
Aside from the government of Ontario's big headline to "balance the budget" by 2025, which would be three years ahead of schedule, this budget will immediately impact Ontario residents in plenty of ways when it comes to saving money, time, and planning your future.
This new Ontario budget, titled "Building a Strong Ontario," brings in a number of changes, from the policy on Ontario sick days to various enticements to get more people working in the skilled trades, all the way down to your daily commuting costs, whether you drive or take public transit to get to work.
Here are seven ways the Ontario 2023 budget could save you time and money in your everyday life.
After announcing at the end of 2022 that pharmacists in Ontario would be able to prescribe medications for more common ailments including pink eye and urinary tract infections (UTIs), the provincial government has announced this is being expanded.
Soon, over-the-counter medications will be available to treat more common conditions, including mild to moderate acne, canker sores, diaper dermatitis, yeast infection, pinworms and threadworms, and nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
The idea here is to save anyone a potentially unnecessary trip to the doctor when a pharmacist could just as well prescribe the correct medication.
According to the government, this program will be expanded in the fall of 2023.
Reducing transit fees
Building on another announcement from early 2022, the government said it is eliminating double fares for "most local transit services" in the Greater Golden Horseshoe for anyone using their local public transit system and then switching over to GO Transit.
While the cost-cutting measure is currently available for many transit users, including those in Durham, Milton, Kitchener-Cambridge, Guelph, Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton, Burlington, and Hamilton, it is still not available in Toronto for anyone taking the TTC.
"The government is working to expand this initiative to support more people using public transit [to get to] Toronto," the government said in its 2023 budget.
Hiring more health care workers
The Ontario government has committed an additional $22 million to hire "up to 200 hospital preceptors" who would provide "mentorship, supervision and training to newly graduated nurses." On top of that, an additional $15 million will be spent on keeping "100 mid‐to‐late career nurses in the workforce."
There are also more commitments to get internationally trained nurses and physicians working in Ontario, with enhancements to be made to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program and the Ontario Bridge Training Program, while the government said it's also investing $4.3 million to help "at least 50 internationally trained physicians get licensed in Ontario."
All in all, the commitments make it clear that health care workers in this province are still desperately needed.
Gas tax & licence plate fees
Having gone into effect on July 1, 2022, the government announced its gas tax and fuel tax rate cuts will be extended until December 31, 2023.
Premier Doug Ford had previously said the gas tax and fuel tax cuts combined saved the average driver 10 cents per litre when they fill up the tank.
The money-saving move comes alongside a reminder from the government that Ontario licence plate renewal fees are no longer in place, but it's important to remember you still have to renew your plate online to avoid getting fined.
Investing in skilled trades and skilled workers
Expanding off some more recent announcements to entice younger students to get into the skilled trades in Ontario, the budget included mentions of allowing "close to 27,000 students" to earn credits towards a high school diploma and an apprenticeship at the same time, while the government also said it's expanding access to dual credit opportunity in health care-related courses for 1,400 more secondary students.
And from Ontario skilled trades to more skilled professions, the government also announced $224 million to be spent on a Skills Development Fund to expand training centres.
Another $33 million was invested into helping more Ontario students become doctors.
A new provincial park
The government has announced plans to open the "first new, full-service operating provincial park in 40 years."
While the exact location of this new park and the facilities it will feature are "in the process of being finalized," the government did confirm the park will be located in Uxbridge, Ontario.
"The new park will offer four-season facilities and recreational activities including swimming, hiking, cross-country skiing, and add 250 new campsites to the Ontario Parks system," the government said in its 2023 budget.
No more COVID sick days
This one won't exactly save you time or money, but it's still good to know.
While it was widely expected, Ontario's 2023 budget did confirm there will be no extension for the province's temporary sick day policy that was brought in during COVID-19, which gave workers three days off.
That sick day policy is set to expire on March 31, 2023.