Government Investing in People, Building Modern Infrastructure, Supporting a Dynamic and Innovative Business Climate: After one year in office, the Ontario government has moved forward on every part of its economic plan focused on people and partnerships to create jobs and grow the economy across the province.
Since being sworn-in on February 11, 2013, Premier Kathleen Wynne and her cabinet team have taken action to improve the lives of the people of Ontario through a number of key initiatives, including:
- Implementing the Youth Jobs Strategy to help create 30,000 training and job opportunities for young people across the province;
- Helping more students with the cost of postsecondary education by expanding eligibility for the 30% Off Ontario Tuition Grant;
- Increasing the Ontario Child Benefit to improve support for over one million children;
- Increasing the minimum wage from $10.25 per hour to $11 per hour as of June 1, 2014;
- Strengthening protection for consumers and making services like wireless service contracts and auto insurance rates more affordable;
- Developing a made-in-Ontario plan to provide better retirement income security for workers;
- With the recent closure of Nanticoke Generating Station, Ontario is one step closer to eliminating coal-fired electricity in the province – providing cleaner air for all Ontarians.
The government is also building modern infrastructure to help communities address their infrastructure needs and improve quality of life with new hospitals, schools and better transit. Key initiatives include:
- Putting into action a $35 billion infrastructure investment plan over three years that will support at least 100,000 jobs on average each year;
- Creating a new $100 million fund to help small, rural and northern communities address their critical infrastructure needs including roads, bridges, water and wastewater projects;
- Continuing to improve and expand more than 400 kilometres of highways in Northern Ontario to better connect northern communities;
- Increasing GO Train service along key routes to help reduce congestion and boost productivity;
- Providing $324 million in gas tax funding to help 96 municipalities expand and improve public transit;
- Introducing the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act to support long-term infrastructure planning and build a stronger economy.
The government is providing support to ensure a business climate that is both dynamic and innovative, and that will help Ontario companies expand and create jobs through measures such as:
- Helping 60,000 small businesses and not-for-profit organizations grow and save money by making changes to the Employer Health Tax and eliminating it for nearly 90 per cent of small businesses;
- Providing support to our highly skilled workforce with training and education programs;
- Offering low corporate taxes along with a business-friendly environment;
- Creating a new venture capital fund to help businesses get the investment capital they need to compete globally and attract new investments to the province;
- Helping small and medium Ontario businesses expand into new markets with the launch of the Going Global Trade Strategy;
- Promoting food that is grown, harvested and processed in Ontario with the passing of the Local Food Act;
- By strategicallypartnering with business over the past year, the government has helped create or retain about 10,000 jobs across the province;
- Implementing the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games Promotion, Celebration and Legacy Strategy to showcase the province and create jobs.
The government will continue to work on passing important pieces of legislation including the job-creating Infrastructure Act and tying future increases of the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index. It will also continue to deliver results with its economic plan to create jobs for today and tomorrow.
- The government introduced and passed 13 pieces of legislation last year, including protecting our young people from the dangers of tanning beds.
- To date, more than 7,000 young people have gained work experience and found good jobs through the Youth Employment Fund.
- To date, 21 communities have been approved to receive funding from the Small, Rural and Northern Municipal Infrastructure Fund.
- The government made the Gas Tax Program permanent as part of the 2013 Ontario Budget.
- In December, the government released an updated Long-Term Energy Plan, Achieving Balance, which is built around five principles: cost effectiveness, reliability, clean energy, community engagement and an emphasis on conservation. The plan reduces projected cost increases by $16 billion in the near term and $70 billion by 2030.
- The government has stepped in to keep the Experimental Lakes Area in Northwestern Ontario open, fostering innovation and protecting important research on climate change.
- Since February 2013, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation has helped create or retain about 3,000 jobs.
- Since February 2013, the government has announced more than $5 million in investments through the Eastern Ontario Development Fund, helping create more than 300 new jobs and retain more than 800.
- Since February 2013, the government has announced more than $18 million in investments through the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, helping create more than 600 new jobs and retain more than 2,500.
Office of the Premier, February 11, 2014