Ford government to dish out $214 billion in record-setting budget


Ontario Construction News staff writer

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, alongside Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, unveiled a spring budget Tuesday that sets a record-breaking spending target of $214.5 billion and focusses on addressing pressing infrastructure needs, slowing economic growth and economic uncertainties.

Bethlenfalvy said the government spending plan will bolster construction projects, particularly in transportation infrastructure. He highlighted substantial allocations for the development of new roads, including the much-discussed Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, although specific cost details remain elusive.

Highlights include:

  • $1 billion in the new Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program and quadrupling the Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund to a total of $825 million to help municipalities repair and expand the critical infrastructure needed to reach their housing targets.
  • Launching a new $200 million Community Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Fund to strengthen communities across Ontario by investing in new and upgraded sport, recreation and community facilities.
  • Extending temporary cuts to the gasoline tax rate by 5.7 cents per litre and the fuel (diesel) tax rate by 5.3 cents per litre until December 31, 2024.
  • Helping workers and job seekers, including apprentices, get the skills they need to advance their careers with an additional $100 million investment in 2024–25 through the Skills Development Fund Training Stream.
  • Supporting individuals facing unstable housing conditions and dealing with mental health and addictions challenges by investing an additional $152 million over three years towards various supportive housing initiatives designed to support vulnerable people.As demand for skilled trades professionals rises, Skills Ontario is commending the government for continued investments in skilled trades and technology programing, working to address the shortfall and need to build the workforce of the future in Ontario.

Ian Howcroft, the CEO of Skills Ontario, says now is the time to continue to increase investment into skilled trades and technology programming to keep the momentum going.

“The province has been a leader in supporting skilled trades professionals which is why continued investment is so important. The additional $100 million funding for the Skills Development Fund will help support the economy and help keep our healthcare system, and our society operating.” said Howcroft.

Skills Ontario also welcomes further $16.5 million annually over the next three years that will support a variety of programs focused on breaking the stigma and attracting more young people into the skilled trades, simplifying the system, and encouraging employer participation in apprenticeships.  Skills Ontario also welcomes more support for the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), with which we are proud to work closely.

“As an organization inspiring youth to pursue skilled trade and technology careers, we are making a difference in dispelling the myths and improving the image of skilled trade professionals. More people have a far different view of what these essential careers are and realize how important these skills are.”

The skilled trades shortage is costing Ontario an estimated $25 billion in foregone GDP, according to Skills Ontario. A Conference Board of Canada study highlighted a need of over 500,000 new entrants to the skilled trades by 2030 to address shortages and the demand for workers is also growing in key areas of Ontario’s economy, like manufacturing, health and safety, advanced IT and construction.

“In the face of global economic uncertainty and high interest rates that continue to put pressure on Ontario families, our government is taking a responsible approach by investing to rebuild Ontario’s economy without raising taxes,” Bethlenfalvy said.

“As we invest in key public services and infrastructure, including new roads, highways and the largest public transit expansion in North America, we refuse to offload the costs onto hardworking Ontario families or municipalities at a time when they’re counting on us to keep costs down.”



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