With the average house price in the Toronto region at almost a million dollars, and the highest childcare costs in the country, the 2017 Provincial Budget highlighted what the government is doing to make this region more affordable and accessible while better supporting the next generation of residents.
Key highlights from budget 2017 that will impact our region include:
Big pharma (care) for children and youth
- Free prescription drug coverage for everyone aged 24 and under with no deductible, no income testing requirement, and no co-payment.
Show me the money…a little later
- Recent grads will not have to start repaying the provincial portion of their OSAP loan until they start making $35,000 (up from $25,000) a year. With high unemployment rates and a rise in precarious employment, this financial relief for those making the transition from school to work is essential.
Spaces to play
- 24,000 net new childcare spaces this year of which 60 per cent will be subsidized. Given one year of infant childcare is equivalent to the entire cost of a B.Sc., these subsidized spots are a welcome relief to families across the region.
- Increased power to municipalities including the ability to levy a hotel tax and for the City of Toronto the ability to levy an additional property tax on vacant homes. Although these are positive steps, more are required to give cities the full autonomy they need and deserve in the 21st century.
Unlocking the front door for affordable housing
- Building on other measures in the Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan, the budget dedicates surplus lands across the region to help tackle the housing shortage and give up to 2,000 new housing units (mix of market and affordable housing) in the GTHA. Three sites have been identified including the West Don Lands.
Keeping seniors moving
- A proposed new Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit for all Ontarians aged 65 or older – covering up to 15 per cent of costs.