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2016 Ontario Budget: Getting the foundations right and the right players at the table

Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction, made the following statement today after the 2016 Ontario Budget release:

TORONTO (February 25, 2016) – In the 2016 provincial budget, we saw foundational investments in people and infrastructure. Cementing these foundations will require the right people at the table and city-building on the agenda.

Stretching opportunity further
In the Toronto region, over 80,000 youth are not in education, employment or training. Studies tell us that the cost of not plugging in even one of these young people can be as high as $1 million over the course of their lifetime. In the 2016 budget, we saw a game-changing moment in access to education with free post-secondary tuition for those who need it most. We applaud this commitment to reduce poverty and level the learning playing field. This builds on the already strong base created by Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy and the leadership the government is showing to bring multi-sector players, including the private sector, together to tackle youth unemployment.

Infrastructure is the underpinning of our economy
The budget continues to show historic investment in infrastructure of $137 billion over the next 10 years with $178 million over three years for housing subsidies and benefits including the construction of up to 1,500 new supportive housing units. These are investments that are needed and worth celebrating. With 100,000 – 150,000 people coming to the GTHA each year, we encourage the Province to work closely with municipalities to ensure priority projects are identified, funded, and red tape removed so we can see shovels in the ground faster.

The budget also highlighted the end of the uploading of municipal social assistance and court costs to the Province in 2018 moving towards a focus on infrastructure. With Canadian municipalities already stretched – owning 60% of the country’s infrastructure, but collecting just 8 cents on every tax dollar taken in – the infrastructure equation is getting harder to solve. While this budget highlights the potential for a new era of federal-provincial relations, it’s important that all orders of government stay part of, not just informed of, infrastructure decisions.

Home to more than six million Ontarians, a prosperous and thriving GTHA is critical to the province’s long-term success. CivicAction looks forward to continuing to work with the Province to advance key priorities and to ensure all sectors have a hand in shaping this region we call home.

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