Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced the provincial budget from Queen’s Park on Thursday afternoon.
The income in the cap-and-trade plan will battle climate change and is expected to hit $1.9 billion in 2017, which is up from last year’s projection of $1.3 billion. The previous day, Premier Kathleen Wynne confirmed gas prices would climb by 4.3 cents a litre in 2017 as a result, while natural gas prices will rise by about $5 a month for the average homeowner.
The highlight in Thursday’s budget was the introduction of free post-secondary tuition, effective in 2017, for university and college students who come from families who earn $50,000 or less per year.
Students whose families earn $83,000 or less on an annual basis, and who are primarily living on their own, are qualified for grants that top their tuition expenses in order to assist them with their costs of living.
Students will also have the opportunity to seek an education anywhere across the country, not just here in Ontario.
Taxes on cigarettes are also rising across the province to $3 per carton, and that will go into effect at 12 a.m. Friday (Feb.26th).
Wine prices will also be on the rise by about 10 cents per bottle.
Also, the $30 drive-clean emissions test fee will be eliminated.
The annual prescription will be increased for seniors with drug deductible, which will to $170 from $100 dollars and the co-payment fee will also be increased by $1. Finance Minister Charles Sousa says the increases will be balanced by other changes, including a new free shingles vaccine for seniors.
The budget deficit for fiscal year in 2015-16 is expected to come in at $5.7 billion, which is down from the last estimate of $7.5 billion
The deficit for 2016-17 is projected to come in at $4.6 billion and be reduced to zero the following fiscal year and Ontario’s net debt will hit $308billion in 2016-17, which is the largest of any sub-national jurisdiction in the world, costing $11.8 billion in interest payments, increasing to $13.1 billion by 2018-19.
ON has spoken and we agree that balancing our budget in 2017-18 must be done in a fair and fiscally responsible way. https://t.co/9rDcuWxk6z
— Charles Sousa (@SousaCharles) February 25, 2016