Things are going to be a little different in Ontario as of today, following several notable changes currently sweeping across the province. Rising prices of public transit and fuel, legal cannabis shops and changes to OHIP+ drug coverage all come into effect this Monday, April 1st - and no, none of these changes are April Fools pranks.
Ottawa’s new carbon tax will take effect today, despite facing massive opposition from the Conservative party. The federal government aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions by putting a penalty on pollution.
So, what does this mean for Ontarians? According to federal figures, the tax will result in an estimated rise of 4.42 cents a litre for gasoline, 5.37 cents for home heating fuel, 3.91 cents per cubic metre for natural gas and finally 3.10 cents per litre for propane.
Fuel prices in Ontario have already gone up by five cents a litre and are set to rise even more in the coming weeks. GasBuddy analyst Dan McTeague estimates that by Victoria Day weekend in May, gas prices will skyrocket to nearly 1.34 in Ontario.
Toronto commuters will also face a slight increase in fare prices today as well, after a 10-cent hike was approved by the board of the TTC.
Here is the basic rundown:
- For those playing cash, adult single fares will remain at $3.25 while senior and student fares will rise from $2.10 to $2.25
- Presto adults’ fares will increase from $3 to $3.10. Tokens will also see a 10-cent fare hike.
- Standard monthly passes will shoot up significantly from $146.25 to $151.15. The typical fare for 12-month passes will rise to $138.35 a month from $134.
- Other passes such as day passes will also rise from $12.50 to $13 with GTA weekly pass looking to increase to $64.95.
In other news, the Ontario government's recent changes to OHIP+ will also take effect today. Children and youth age 24 and under who currently have private insurance plans will no longer receive coverage from the government. According to the PC government, the changes will save the province $250 million.
Here is another rundown on how the changes may impact you, according to a statement from the Ministry Of Health. According to the Ministry, Ontarians under 24 with private coverage will not be eligible for OHIP+ regardless of whether:
- "The private plan covers the particular drug for which coverage is sought
- The child or youth or another person captured under the private plan is required to pay a copayment, deductible, or premium, or,
- The child or youth has reached their annual maximum under the private plan and no further coverage is available."
So, how does this change affect Ontarians? Well, for those who are 24 and under, prescription drugs including birth control will no longer be free, which has understandably left many young Ontarians, especially those in university and college who may not be able to afford the expense, concerned over the new changes.
Thankfully, at the end of all that negative news of taxes and fare hikes comes the grand openings of the province's first legal cannabis stores. According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, 10 out of Ontario’s 25 new pot shops are set to open their doors on April 1st. A complete list can be found here.
The provincial government had initially hoped to open 25 stores throughout Ontario today. However, many have been forced to delay their openings as they wait for government approval.
The delayed openings are not the first setback for Ontario; the provincial government had originally planned to open hundreds of cannabis stores in a limitless market, before being forced to call it at 25 due to a national supply issue.