Fall economic statement, Build Ontario, supports communities, including Bay of Quinte

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THURSDAY, NOV. 4, 2021 

BAY OF QUINTE – The 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario lays out how the government will build the foundation for Ontario’s recovery and prosperity by getting shovels in the ground on critical infrastructure, attracting increased investment, and restoring leadership in auto manufacturing and other industries. The plan also protects Ontario’s progress against the COVID‑19 pandemic.

“As we continue to protect the hard-won progress against the pandemic, our government is looking forward with our plan to build a better and brighter future for families, workers and businesses in Ontario,” said Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy. “By unlocking critical minerals in the North, harnessing our manufacturing capacity and building critical infrastructure, our plan will drive our economic recovery and prosperity for every region of our province.”

Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte and Minister of Energy, added “The people and businesses of Bay of Quinte have demonstrated the Ontario Spirit in working together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario is our government’s plan to protect our progress, build Ontario and work for workers, so that we can emerge stronger than ever.”

The plan includes support for Bay of Quinte, including:

Investing $30.2 billion over the next 10 years to support hospital infrastructure and to address longstanding challenges in the hospital sector. Investments in hospital infrastructure in Eastern Ontario include:

  • Quinte Health Care Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Redevelopment Project — replacement of the existing hospital on the Picton site with a new facility to meet increasing demand for health services in the area.
  • Kingston Health Sciences Centre — redevelopment of the Kingston General Hospital site to accommodate inpatient, surgical, and emergency department growth for health services in modern care settings.
  • Investing $6 million over three years for a pilot to expand opportunities for foreign investors to establish new or purchase and expand existing businesses in Ontario outside of the GTA. The pilot is expected to result in 100 additional Entrepreneur Stream applications through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, which will help generate employment in regions that need the most help to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
  • Investing an additional $8.7 million, for a total of $27.9 million in 2021–22, to increase mental health supports at Ontario postsecondary institutions, including new funding for Indigenous Institutes and Université de l’Ontario français.

The three pillars outlined in today’s statement are as follows:

Protecting Our Progress: The government has a plan to build a health and long-term care system that delivers the quality of care our loved ones deserve.

Highlights include:

  • To strengthen the health and long-term care workforce, Ontario is investing $342 million, beginning in 2021–22, to add over 5,000 new and upskilled registered nurses and registered practical nurses as well as 8,000 personal support workers. In addition, Ontario is investing $57.6 million, beginning in 2022–23, to hire 225 nurse practitioners in the long-term care sector.
  • To help hospitalized patients continue their recovery and rehabilitation at home, where they are most comfortable, the Province is investing an additional $548.5 million over three years to expand home and community care. This funding would support up to 28,000 post-acute surgical patients and 21,000 patients with complex health conditions every year.
  • To support the mental health and well-being of health and long-term care workers across the province, the government is investing $12.4 million over two years starting in 2021–22 to continue rapid access to existing and expanded mental health and addictions supports.
  • To ensure long-term care resident safety, the government is providing an additional
    $72.3 million over three years to increase enforcement capacity including doubling the number of inspectors across the province by 2022–23. This will make Ontario’s inspector to long-term care homes ratio the highest in Canada.

Building Ontario: The government has a plan to build Ontario’s future with shovels in the ground for highways, hospitals, housing and high-speed internet. With these investments, the government will expand our health care capacity, provide access to critical mineral resources in Ontario’s North, and cut down on the time drivers spend in gridlock so they can spend more time with friends and family.

Highlights include:

  • To build, expand and repair Ontario’s highways and bridges, create jobs and spur economic growth, the government has invested approximately $2.6 billion in funding for 2021–22 in support of the Ontario Highways Program, which features more than 580 construction, expansion and rehabilitation projects. As part of the Highways Program, the government has committed funding to build and advance the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413.
  • Working in partnership with Northern and First Nation communities to create jobs, unlock critical minerals and bring economic prosperity to Ontario’s North, the Province has committed close to $1 billion to support the planning and construction of an all-season road network, as well as other projects that will provide a corridor to prosperity for the remote First Nations in the Far North. The Government of Canada must step up and match Ontario’s commitments in this critical project.
  • Ontario is responding to the need expressed by municipalities through the doubling of its annual investment in the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund program. This additional multi-year investment of $1 billion will bring the total investment to nearly $2 billion over the next five years beginning in 2021–22, to provide certainty and predictability to 424 small, rural and Northern communities so that they can build and repair roads, bridges, and water and wastewater infrastructure.
  • To provide all regions of Ontario with access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet by the end of 2025, the Province made a historic commitment of nearly $4 billion over six years.
  • To address decades of neglect and help those waiting to get into long-term care, Ontario plans to invest an additional $3.7 billion, beginning in 2024–25, to build an additional
    10,000 net new long-term care beds and upgrade 12,000 existing beds to modern design standards. This would bring total investment to $6.4 billion since spring 2019 — a historic investment that will lead to more than 30,000 net new beds by 2028 and about
    28,000 upgraded long-term care beds across the province.
  • To support growing demands on the health care system, Ontario is investing $30.2 billion over the next 10 years to build, expand and enhance hospitals, a historic commitment to ensure people can get the care they need in their communities.

Working for Workers: The government wants workers in a race to the top, not a race to the bottom. This is why the government has a plan to build up Ontario’s workers by proposing to raise the minimum wage, providing funding so workers can learn new skills, and attracting investment in critical minerals, automotive manufacturing and other industries to create well-paying jobs.

Highlights include:

  • To support workers, the government is proposing to increase the general minimum wage to $15 per hour effective January 1, 2022 and to eliminate the special minimum wage rate for liquor servers by raising it to the general minimum wage.
  • To strengthen Ontario’s position as one of North America’s premier jurisdictions for responsibly sourced critical minerals, the Province has announced plans to develop its first-ever Critical Minerals Strategy. An abundance of critical minerals in the province will help secure investments such as new electric vehicle technology and create new opportunities for Ontario workers.
  • To protect and create jobs in the automotive sector, the Province has secured investment commitments of $5.6 billion from major auto manufacturers for electric vehicle supply chain capacity.
  • To address growing competition for investment and supply chain challenges, Ontario is creating a new provincewide two-year $40 million Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Competitiveness stream, which is part of the Regional Development Program.
  • To help workers get good jobs, Ontario is investing an additional $90.3 million over
    three years starting in 2021–22 in the Skilled Trades Strategy. Key new initiatives include creating a skilled trades career fair as well as enhancing the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program and the Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program.
  • To provide more training opportunities for workers, the government is proposing to extend the Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit to 2022. The 2022 credit extension would provide an estimated $275 million in support to about 240,000 people, or $1,150, on average.
  • To support workers who need training to get a job, the Province is investing an additional
    $5 million in 2021–22 to expand the Second Career program.
  • To help the tourism and hospitality sectors recover, and encourage Ontario families to explore the province, the government is proposing a new temporary Ontario Staycation Tax Credit for 2022. The credit would provide an estimated $270 million to support over one-and-a-half million families to further discover Ontario.
  • To protect Ontario workers from exploitation and labour trafficking, the government is investing $1.1 million in 2021–22 to support a dedicated team of officers to undertake focused inspections of temporary help agencies and recruiters of migrant workers. The pilot will help protect some of the most vulnerable and marginalized workers.

“The qualities that saw our province through the worst days of the pandemic — the spirit of the people of Ontario — will see us to a brighter, more prosperous future,” said Bethlenfalvy. “Our government has a responsible and prudent plan that creates the conditions for an economic and fiscal recovery driven by growth. It is a plan to protect the progress we’ve made, build for the future and work for workers who make it all happen.”

QUICK FACTS

  • The 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: Build Ontario is the government’s seventh financial update since the pandemic began, highlighting the government’s commitment to providing regular updates on Ontario’s finances, even during this uncertain economic period. It is part of the government’s plan for recovery driven by economic growth.
  • Ontario’s economy is recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and is poised to keep growing. For 2021–22, the government is projecting a deficit of $21.5 billion,
    $11.6 billion lower than the outlook published in the 2021 Budget. This improvement reflects a stronger economic growth outlook, as well as more recent information about the impact of COVID-19 on the province’s finances.
  • Over the medium term, the government projects steadily declining deficits of $19.6 billion in 2022–23 and $12.9 billion in 2023–24, an improvement of $8.1 billion and $7.2 billion, respectively, relative to the outlook presented in the 2021 Budget.
  • Given the uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Province continues to maintain flexibility to deploy resources where they are needed most and support further recovery initiatives through COVID-19 Time-Limited Funding.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Ontario supporting hospitals with additional funding during COVID-19 - news.ontario.ca/ en/release/60848/ontario-supporting-hospitals-with-additional-funding-during-covid-19
  • Hallway Health Care: A System Under Strain - www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/premiers_council/report.aspx

MPP Smith visits Cherry Valley to announce natural gas expansion project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MONDAY, OCT.18, 2021

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte and Ontario’s Energy Minister, joined local officials and Enbridge Gas today to announce that approximately 152 homes, businesses and farms in Prince Edward County will be able to connect to natural gas for the first time thanks to the province’s Natural Gas Expansion Program.

Under Phase 2 of the program, Ontario will allocate up to $5,206,389 to support new connections to the natural gas distribution system and help make life more affordable in Bay of Quinte.

“We’re making good on our promise to deliver affordable energy and expand natural gas pipelines to even more communities across Ontario, including our own right here in Prince Edward County,” said Smith. “Under Phase 2 of the expansion program, access to natural gas will help even more families and businesses find energy savings, while promoting economic development and job creation across Bay of Quinte.”

The Ontario government is expanding access to natural gas across the province to help keep the cost of energy low for families, businesses and farmers. Phase 2 of the Natural Gas Expansion Program will allocate more than $234 million to support approximately 8750 connections in 43 rural, northern and Indigenous communities.

“As part of our government’s plan to make life more affordable, we are lowering energy costs for homes, businesses and farms across rural, remote and underserved communities,” said Smith. “With Phase 2, we’re putting people first, bringing prosperity to their communities, and ensuring Ontario remains open for business. This will be a game-changer for these 43 communities.”

The average household could save between $250 to $1,500 per year in energy costs by switching to natural gas from costlier fuel sources. Businesses are expected to save up to 30 per cent per year on energy costs.

“Residents and businesses have expressed their desire to see natural gas expansion occur in Prince Edward County, and we’re pleased to see this move forward," said Steve Ferguson, Mayor of Prince Edward County. “Natural gas is the most common, affordable heating fuel in Ontario. The municipality fully supports the efforts of the Government of Ontario and Enbridge Gas. We look forward to working together to expand natural gas access in our community to attract new opportunities, help create jobs, and lower monthly costs for residents."

“We’re thrilled that through Ontario’s Natural Gas Expansion Program, Enbridge Gas will bring much needed and wanted natural gas in the most affordable way to more communities across Ontario, including this one,” said Cynthia Hansen, Executive Vice President & President, Gas Distribution & Storage, Enbridge Inc. “Natural gas is the most economic way to heat buildings and water, and we are excited to work with local officials and the community to move this project forward, so residents can benefit from the cost savings, and local businesses can be more competitive.”

Construction for projects under Phase 2 will begin as soon as this year, with all 28 expansion projects expected to be underway by the end of 2025.

 

QUICK FACTS

  • Phase 2 of the Natural Gas Expansion Program will allocate more than $234 million to support 28 new natural gas expansion projects from 2021 to 2026.
  • Since its launch in 2019, Phase 1 of the Natural Gas Expansion Program has supported projects that are forecasted to connect over 9,000 customers, in 16 communities, to natural gas.
  • Phase 1 and 2 projects are funded through a $1-per-month charge to existing natural gas customers.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Backgrounder: www.ontario.ca/page/natural-gas-expansion-program

 


Ontario taking action to immediately increase staffing at Bay of Quinte long-term care homes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WEDNESDAY, OCT.6, 2021

BAY OF QUINTE –  Ontario’s investment of up to $270 million this year to increase staffing levels in long-term care homes across the province will provide more than $3,209,499 in additional funding for the nine homes within Bay of Quinte, local MPP Todd Smith announced today.

Smith was at Hastings Manor in Belleville to share the good news, following an announcement from Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips earlier today that detailed the additional investment required to reach a standard of three hours of daily direct care by March 2022 and four hours by 2025.  The Province’s annual investment in base funding will rise in each of the next four years – by $270 million in 2021-2022, $673 million in 2022-2023, $1.25 billion in 2023-2024 and $1.82 billion in 2024-2025.

“These investments will ensure that residents receive additional time and attention to their individual care needs,” said Smith. “They also provide stable funding for long-term care operators to hire trained staff to provide high-quality care and provide additional good-paying jobs within our community.”

For a typical 160-bed home, Smith said there would be an increase of approximately $1.2 million this year, escalating to $3.2 million in 2024-2025.  At that time, it would represent the equivalent of six additional registered nurses, 12 registered practical nurses, and 25 personal support workers.

Minister Phillips indicated that as part of the government’s plan to hire 27,000 new staff members over the next four years and enhance daily care standards, the Province will bring forward legislation to enshrine the commitment to four hours in law and introduce auditing to ensure funds are used for frontline care, such as feeding, bathing and dressing, movement, therapeutic treatment and medication.  At present, residents receive an average of two hours and 45 minutes.

“We know that more qualified staff means more daily care for residents,” he said. “Hiring more staff is part of our government’s plan to fix long-term care and to improve the quality of care residents receive and the quality of life they experience.”

This year’s increased investment also includes $42.8 million to homes to increase care by allied health professionals (such as physiotherapists, social workers, and dietitians), an increase of 10 per cent. In addition, the Province has announced a $10-million annual fund to support ongoing professional development opportunities in long-term care.

The government is also working with Ontario colleges and universities to meet the staffing needs.

“Ontario’s world-class health care system is built on the exceptional quality of care that our health care professionals provide to our loved ones, which is why our government is supporting increased enrollment in nursing and personal support worker programs,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “By working with our postsecondary education partners, we are training and educating more talent to support the long-term care sector in communities across the province.”

 Representatives of local municipalities operating long-term care homes welcomed the news.

“Hastings County is absolutely dedicated to providing the highest quality of care for our residents and it is clear that Minister Phillips has the same commitment to long-term care residents across Ontario through the support of this funding,” said Warden Rick Phillips, of Hastings County, which operates Hastings Manor and the Hastings Centennial Manor in Bancroft.  “I would like to congratulate and recognize this government for addressing the long-standing underfunding of long-term care in this province. Proper funding is critical to ensure the continued care of our most vulnerable population.”

Added Paul Jenkins, the Mayor of Bancroft and Hastings County’s long-term care chair: “The team members in our long-term care homes work tirelessly and have persevered through the added challenges that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will assist in recruiting and maintaining staff within our homes and in turn improve care for our residents.”

Steve Ferguson, the Mayor of Prince Edward County, which operates H.J. McFarland Memorial Home said “To Prince Edward County with its high number of senior population, the news that more staff will be available at long term care homes - if they need it - is very welcome news. I want to commend the ministry and the province for understanding the needs of LTC facilities and taking the steps necessary to meet those needs to ensure that residents are cared for in the best possible way, and provided with all the services and amenities they require.”

 BAY OF QUINTE ALLOCATIONS

  •  Hastings Manor, in Bellville, will receive up to $901,227 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $5,519,868 annually more than their current funding.
  • H.J. McFarland Home for the Aged, in Picton, will receive up to $299,219 for additional staff this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025,the home will receive $1,832,688 annually more than their current funding
  • Westgate Lodge Nursing Home, in Belleville, will receive up to $263,599 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive$1,614,516 annually more than their current funding.
  • Trent Valley Lodge Nursing Home, in Trenton, will receive up to $363,338 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $2,225,400annually more than their current funding.
  • Versa Care Hallowell House, in Picton, will receive up to $252,912 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $1,549,056 annually more than their current funding.
  • Kentwood Park, in Picton, will receive up to $121,113 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025 the home will receive $741,804 annually more than their current funding.
  • West Lake Terrace, in Picton, will receive up to $117,552 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive$719,976annually more than their current funding.
  • Crown Ridge Place, in Trenton, will receive up to $434,584 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive$2,661,756annually more than their current funding.
  • Belmont Nursing Home, in Belleville, will receive up to $455,957 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $2,792,664 annually more than their current funding.

 QUICK FACTS

  • Learn more about Ontario’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan at www.ontario.ca/page/better-place-live-better-place-work-ontarios-long-term-care-staffing-plan.
  • Through initiatives like the Supporting Professional Growth Fund, the government is working with partners to improve staff retention by highlighting long-term care as a career destination with rewarding opportunities for continuous learning and development.
  • The Ontario government has established the Staffing Supply Accelerator Group (news.ontario.ca/en/release/60733/new-action-group-to-help-implement-one-of-the-largest-health-care-recruiting-and-training-programs-in-ontario-history to support the objectives of the Long-Term Care Staffing Plan. The group includes participation from major stakeholders and champions the innovation, expansion and acceleration of education and training opportunities to help meet the demand for long-term care staff.