Ontario’s provincial budget was tabled by the Ontario Finance Minister, Peter Bethlenfalvy, on April 28, 2022. The budget is titled “Ontario’s Plan to Build” and allots billions in spending while aiming to reduce the province’s current debt of $19.9 billion to less than $8 billion by 2025. This review will highlight significant changes to government funding programs that Ontario businesses need to know.
“Ontario’s Plan to Build increases spending by an annual average of over five per cent over the next three years, with investments in health care, infrastructure and other critical public services. This will be accomplished while delivering a credible recovery plan that will eliminate Ontario’s deficit two years earlier than projected in the 2021 Budget. Our government is building. More jobs. More highways. More hospitals. More opportunities. Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government has put forward a plan. We have a plan to build. And we have a plan to get it done.”Peter Bethlenfalvy Ontario’s Minister of Finance
Government funding initiatives in the 2022–23 budget are placing an emphasis on growing and stimulating the economy, investing in workers, improving health care, and tackling critical infrastructure concerns.
It is important to note that this budget may be realized pending the outcome of the upcoming provincial election being held on or before June 2, 2022.
Focusing On the Ontario Economy
The Ontario Budget 2022: Ontario’s Plan to Build is determined to invest in driving the economy forward. Key plans include addressing clean energy and critical minerals challenges, stimulating small business growth, and securing food and agri-product industries.
Critical Minerals, Energy, and Manufacturing
- $5 million over two years to create a Critical Minerals Innovation Fund (CMIF) which will help businesses in the mining industry, academia, and research and development organizations innovate upon new extraction and processing methods and technologies for critical minerals;
- $12 million will be invested in extending the Ontario Junior Exploration Program (OJEP) for two more years with the goal of improving the critical minerals industry by attracting new skilled workers, creating jobs, and stimulating third-party investors;
- $40 million for the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Competitiveness (AMIC) program to help small and medium-sized enterprises in Ontario manufacturing with grants and loan support to invest in capital equipment, adopt new technologies, and develop their employees;
- $1 billion will be invested over eight years to install five new transmission lines via Hydro One to support the growing demand for battery manufacturing, electric vehicles, and more. The goal is to invest in Ontario’s clean energy future; and
- $92 million towards electric vehicle chargers to improve accessibility to charging across the province for public use. Target areas will include highways, community hubs, carpools, and more.
Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship
- $2 million will be invested in the Futurepreneur program which helps entrepreneurs gain access to mentorship resources, as well as collateral-free loans. The goal is to help break down the barriers that entrepreneurs of underrepresented groups face;
- $40 million over two years towards the Digital Main Street program to help increase the digital presence of Ontario businesses by providing grants to businesses owners looking to integrate new and innovative digital approaches to their marketing efforts;
- $10 million over two years to create a Digitization Competence Centre with the goal of providing small businesses with the support and expertise they need to use digital technologies effectively for their businesses;
- $3 billion will be invested for Ontario businesses to reduce supply chain challenges by creating the Building Ontario Better Initiative (BOBI). This initiative will aim to significantly reduce common problems facing supply chains, as well as ensure preference for Ontario-made products and services by awarding contracts to local businesses;
- $58 million allotted to the creation of Intellectual Property Ontario (IPO) which will offer intellectual property (IP) expertise to researchers, academics, and more with the intent of helping Ontario organizations leverage IP for growth and increased competition on the global market;
- $107 million over three years towards new critical technology initiatives that will boost Ontario’s manufacturing and technology industries to improve commercialization opportunities; and
- $96 million will be invested for border crossings to address demonstrations and blockades at international borders.
General Economic Initiatives
- $1.5 billion joint investment with the federal government to support the large-scale investment of fibre-based projects that will help improve internet access for the general Ontario population;
- $109 million in the Telesat’s next-generation Low Earth Orbit satellite network for greater high-speed bandwidth;
- $71 million in the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) for a greater distribution of cellular service in Eastern Ontario;
- $63 million will be allotted to the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project that will drastically improve high-speed internet access for over 60,000 homes, businesses, and farms in Southwestern Ontario;
- $10.9 million will be allotted to continue improve internet and cellular service for First Nations communities;
- $23.9 million towards the Digital Dealership Registration program to bring the new vehicle registration process online and improve customer experiences for buyers in Ontario;
- The Ontario Capital Growth Corporation will be rebranding to Venture Ontario, which will be receiving $300 million to build new support programs for life sciences, cleantech, and more; and
- $25 million over three years via the Indigenous Economic Development Fund to help Indigenous small businesses, organizations, and communities with capital support and grants for skills training and development.
Supporting Ontario Tourism and Film
- Introducing a temporary Ontario Staycation Tax Credit for 2022 that will allot up to $400 per family to explore local tourism spots and support local businesses in Ontario; and
- Modernizing Ontario’s Cultural Media Tax Credits to support online platforms for film and television, simplify the tax credit process, and encourage more production in communities across Ontario.
- $10 million towards creating a Food Security and Supply Chain Fund that will improve Ontario’s food supply by removing barriers to recruitment, retaining domestic workers, and addressing necessary skills gaps;
- $10 million to continue the Enhanced Agri‐Food Workplace Protection Program to support mental health and safety concerns for agri‐food workers;
- $5 million for helping livestock producers in cases of emergency processing disruptions; and
- $2.6 million for improving health and safety conditions of international agricultural workers with health resources and additional vaccination clinics.
Cost Savings for Businesses
The Ontario government will be enabling up to $8.9 billion in cost savings and support programs for businesses within the province ($4.1 billion to small businesses) to help with growth opportunities, protect employment, and create new opportunities. This initiative will be realized via a variety of programs, such as cancelling cap-and-trade carbon tax, reducing small business corporate income tax rates to 3.2%, and lowering electricity costs for medium and large-sized corporations.
Working for Workers with 2022 Ontario Budget
The Ontario 2022 Budget also places a focus on developing skilled workers and attracting foreign talent to meet the rising demands currently facing the province. Investments also address common challenges faced by Ontario workers, such as mental health and apprenticeship training.
Investing in Skilled Trades
- Rebranding the Second Career program to the Better Jobs Ontario program with an allotment of $5 million to help Ontario unemployed people looking to get the skills they need to enter the workforce;
- $15.8 million towards brick-and-mortar training facilities, such as union halls, to assist in jobs training to help employers find the talent to fill open capacities;
- $114 million over three years towards the Skilled Trades Strategy which will be realized in the following initiatives:
- $73.8 million for three years to assist in-class training for apprentices in in-demand industries;
- $10 million for the Infrastructure Talent Accelerator Grant to help apprentices get involved in large-scale infrastructure projects;
- $15 million over three years for the Tools Grant which helps apprentices entering the trade pay for their new equipment and tools;
- $6.3 million over three years for the Group Sponsorship Grantwhich funds the collaboration of apprentices and small and medium-sized employers in skilled trades come together; and
- $3 million over three years for the Apprenticeship Capital Grant to help meet the needs of exponential innovative technology.
- New funding is expected for the creation of a new Ontario Workers’ Plan which will aim to assist in readying workers for the skilled labor shortages facing Ontario right now. This initiative will breathe new life into current programs, such as the Skills Development Fund;
- $6.9 million over three years towards the Women’s Futures program with the goal of stimulating employment training and support to women struggling through abuse or other issues who are looking to develop the skills they need to enter the labour market;
- $15.1 million will be invested in the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program to assist in matching immigrants with skilled labour experience to in-demand trades to help meet provincial demand; and
- $45.2 million over three years for specialized mental health services designed to help front-line workers, such as police officers, correctional employees, and more deal with mental health challenges and traumatic brain injuries.
Ontario Budget 2022 Investments in Infrastructure
Infrastructure has been targeted as a primary concern for Ontario via the 2022 budget. The plan aims for new highway construction while addressing other infrastructure vital to transportation, such as bridges and road safety.
- $25.1 billion over 10 years to build new highways and implement expansions to address concerns over gridlock on Ontario roads. This funding will be dispersed among projects such as:
- The creation of a Highway 413 across the Halton, Peel, and York regions;
- Constructing a Bradford Bypass which would connect the Highway 400 in Simcoe to the Highway 404 in York with a four-lane bypass; and
- Expanding Highway 401 by widening the channel with more lanes to ease congestion.
- $492.7 million will be invested in the improvement of Northern Ontario highways that will amount to expansion projects, improvements to road safety, and bridge construction;
- $109 million will be allotted towards refurbishing and tuning-up GO 56 Go Transit coaches to support the expansion of Go Transit expansion plans;
- $2 billion over five years (commenced in 2021) for the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund which is designed to help 424 communities in small and rural communities tackle significant infrastructure challenges, such as water management, roads, bridges, and more;
- $10 billion over 10 years for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) in collaboration with federal and municipal governments to address growing demand for updating critical infrastructure, addressing climate change challenges and precautions, and driving the economy;
- $14 billion over 10 years in investments for school infrastructure across Ontario to improve the quality of facilities and education for students.
Affordability for Ontarians
The Ontario government has made a large commitment to their constituents to address the rising costs of living, economic challenges, and more. Their Ontario Budget 2022 approach to affordability challenges looks towards introducing tax incentives and reliefs designed to save Ontario residents and businesses money by addressing daily costs, such as license plate renewals and energy costs. To see a comprehensive review of significant tax changes presented in the Ontario 2022 budget, visit the Ryan Tax Alert | Ontario Budget 2022.
$45 million will be invested in a new program called the Streamline Development Fund to help large Ontario communities modernize their properties and accelerate the housing application process.
- $23 million for the Audit and Accountability Fund to assist municipalities in digital and operations projects that aim on improving quality of services;
- $10 million for the creation of a Food Security and Supply Chain Fund which will provide support to businesses in the food supply chain capacities. The goal is to strengthen the province’s food supply, as well as improve on efficiencies in food-product distribution across Ontario;
- $5.5 million will be allotted to the Ontario Community Support Program which helps low-income seniors secure the medicine, food, and care they need; and
- $15 million towards the Home and Vehicle Modifications Program which helps individuals and families make their homes more accessible for those with long-term disabilities.
Managing Health Care
The Ontario Budget 2022 provides significant investments in the health care sector with primary focusses on addressing hospital capacities that were challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as helping older generations manage accessibility and medical challenges.
- $15 million over three years towards creating the Life Sciences Innovation Program. The goal is to improve the commercial potential of therapeutics and medical and digital technologies in the sector;
- $1 billion over the next three years for improvement in home care, with the goals of improving quality and keeping people in the homes they prefer for as long as possible;
- $230 million towards enhancing existing programs for hospitals and the health care system so that they have the staff necessary for supporting exceptional capacities;
- $42.5 million over two years for Ontario’s health care system by expanding training for undergraduate and postgraduate medical education in Ontario;
- $110 million for the creation of a Seniors Care at Home Tax Credit to support approximately 200,000 low and moderate‐income senior families;
- $764 million over two years for the health sector to stabilize nursing workforce concerns and implement a retention incentive for a maximum of $5,000 per person;
- $40 billion in health infrastructure over 10 years with the purpose of significantly improving the capacity of beds and ICU beds in hospitals across Ontario; and
- $300 million for the Surgical Recovery Strategy to increase health care capacities and address challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
More Government Funding Opportunities in Ontario
Ontario’s 2022 budget offers a significant insight to government funding opportunities for Ontario businesses, communities, and more. Sign up for our government funding newsletter to stay up to date throughout the year as these government funding programs come to fruition.
Moreover, Ontario businesses should visit our comprehensive Ontario Funding Directory to seamlessly filter through the top government funding programs available to Ontario businesses today.