The Doug Ford government issued its first budget Thursday with few surprises and no major spending cuts but instead offered a handful of populist measures aimed at loosening regulations and red tape for the likes of drinking and gambling.
The PCs heralded the fact that the budget includes no new taxes for residents or businesses. But it does include tax credits and other measures meant to help parents, seniors and business owners.
The province will introduce the Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit, which would give families with low to moderate incomes up to $6,000 per child under the age of 7, up to $3,750 per child between the ages of seven and 16, and up to $8,250 for a child with a severe disability.
The government is also pledging up to $1 billion over the next five years to create 30,000 new child-care spaces.
As the Liberals had done many times before, the PCs plan to reduce auto insurance rates but are not offering specific rate-reduction targets or timelines.
Instead, the Ford government says it wants to create more options for drivers to customize their insurance plans, and reduce red tape for insurers to expand their offerings, including discounts they can offer and methods they can use for processing claims.
A new “driver care card” is also in the works, which the province hopes will serve to reduce insurance fraud. Funds from an insurance claim would be loaded onto the card for spending on car repairs, health care to treat injuries, and other related expenses.
Officials could not offer further details Thursday about how the card would work or when the initiative might roll out.
As for Ontario businesses, the budget scraps an anticipated one-per-cent cut in the corporate tax rate in favour of a tax credit intended to encourage businesses to make capital investments.
“The 2019 Ontario budget is all about putting people first,” Finance Minister Vic Fedeli told reporters Thursday. “[We are] restoring fiscal balance, making Ontario open for business [and] open for jobs, while we’re protecting what matters most: our health care, education and other critical public services. These are the commitments that we have made to the people of Ontario.”