2018 Budget Unveils New Drug and Dental Plan, and Free Preschool
MPP McGarry Announces New Investments in Health Care, Child Care and Mental Health
The 2018 Ontario Budget includes significant new investments in health care, child care, and mental health, new measures to make life more affordable, and more initiatives that create more job opportunities for people across Waterloo Region, announced Cambridge MPP, Kathryn McGarry.
“This budget is going to have a huge impact on the lives of families in Cambridge,” said McGarry. “Through free childcare for preschoolers, expanded pharmacare for our seniors, a new drug and dental plan, high speed rail, and many other initiatives, our government has a plan to build a future for Ontario that provides opportunities for families to thrive and succeed.”
If passed, the government would expand OHIP+ with free prescription drugs for everyone 65 and over, improve mental health care and addictions services, and introduce free preschool child care for children aged two-and-a-half until eligible for kindergarten.
“Ontario’s economy is getting stronger, businesses are creating record numbers of jobs, and unemployment is at the lowest rate in almost two decades,” added McGarry. “Our budget is currently balanced, and we have a $600 million surplus. Now, we are using that strengthened fiscal position to make life more affordable for families and create new opportunity for businesses across the province.”
Key budget initiatives include:
- Providing quality child care by making preschool child care free for children aged two-and-a-half until they are eligible for kindergarten, saving the average family child $17,000 per child.
- Increasing access to affordable child care by providing over 111,000 children receiving child care subsidies, a 20 per cent increase from 2016–17 – this is building on the Region of Waterloo’s fee subsidy waitlist of 272 children being eliminated, and access has been created to more than 200 spaces for children.
- Introducing a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program, reimbursing up to $400 per single person, $600 per couple and $700 for a family of four, of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses each year, for those without benefits and not covered by OHIP+ or other government programs.
- Introducing the new Seniors’ Healthy Home Program, providing up to $750 annually for senior households 75 and over help them live independently by covering housekeeping, snow removal, minor home improvements, and more.
- Improving hospitals by increasing funding to Waterloo Region hospitals on average by 4% helping to reduce wait times, address capacity issues improving access to specialists, and better meeting the needs of our community. to provide more and faster health care for people.
- The province is also investing approximately $19 billion over 10 years to build and renovate 40 hospitals, such as the ongoing expansion of Cambridge Memorial Hospital.
- Investing over $11 billion to support construction on the first high-speed rail service in Canada, taking commuters from Waterloo Region to Toronto in 48 minutes.
- Planning to create and retain over 70,000 jobs by renewing and extending the Jobs and Prosperity Fund with an increase of $900 million to leverage over $9 billion in private-sector investments.
- Investing an additional $50 million in the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund to create and retain approximately 19,000 jobs and attract more than $800 million in investments, like the investment of $1.5 million in Bend All Automotive in Ayr creating 30 new jobs, retaining 684 existing positions.
- Investing in Broadband - an additional $500 million over 3 years to expand broadband connectivity in rural communities like North Dumfries and Ayr.
- Investing an additional $784 million in our schools, building new schools, additions, and upgrades to 79 schools, such as the addition of 178 new student spaces at École secondaire catholique Père-René-de-Galinée in Cambridge.
- Creating 30,000 new long-term care beds, like the 51 new beds being created at Saint Luke’s Place, in addition to the 30,000 existing beds being redeveloped – helping people who can no longer live independently and provide peace of mind for people who care for them.
- Providing better and faster access to mental health and addictions services for hundreds of thousands more children, young people and adults across Ontario — bringing the total funding to more than $17 billion over four years.
This budget focuses on initiatives that make life more affordable and provide more financial security during a time of rapid economic change.
- Since the recession, Ontario’s economy has gained over 800,000 net new jobs.
- The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low and has remained below the national average for 34 consecutive months.
- Since 2014 Ontario’s economy has grown more than Canada’s and all other G7 countries.