Many of the wallet-friendly initiatives contained in the 2019 Ontario budget had been previously revealed, including a 10 per cent cut to post-secondary tuition and a tax credit for low-income individuals of up to $850. But Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government did unveil new measures to cut the cost of child care, reduce estate taxes and provide dental services for seniors. The budget, which projects an $11.7-billion deficit for 2018-19, also hinted at further reforms to auto insurance, new home warranties and ticket sale regulations. Herewith, 13 ways the Ontario budget could affect your bank account.
1. Childcare: A new personal income tax credit will provide an average of $1,250 per family for childcare costs. The credit is available to families earning less than $150,000 per year. Depending on income, families will receive up to 75 per cent of their costs, up to $6,000 per child under seven and up to $3,750 for kids between the ages of seven and 16. The credit provides $8,250 for a child with a severe disability. Starting in 2021, families will be able to apply for advanced payment of these credits.
2. Estate Tax: The province will eliminate the administration tax for the first $50,000 of an estate while reducing the tax by $250 in other instances.
3. Dental Care: Ontario will provide dental services to low-income seniors, initially through public health units and community and Indigenous health centres. Beginning in late summer 2019, the program will be available to individual seniors with income less than $19,300 and couples with less than $32,300. The budget also commits to an expansion of dental services for low-income seniors through mobile dental buses and expanded public health units.
4. Car Insurance: The budget commits to a multi-year reform of Ontario’s auto insurance industry. Among the changes under consideration are allowing providers to offer lower premiums based on a driver’s credit history or if the consumer agrees to use the insurance company’s preferred repair shops or health care services. The government is also exploring the introduction of new options—such as pay-as-you-go insurance—and allowing drivers to provide electronic proof of insurance.
5. New Home Warranties: The Progressive Conservative government plans to explore changes to the current system of new-home warranties, including allowing for multiple providers beyond the Tarion Warranty Corporation.
6. Ticket Sales: New protections are promised for consumers who buy tickets for concerts or sporting events, including increased penalties for breaking existing laws. In addition, the province will eliminate price caps on ticket resales that it contends would lead consumers to buy from the black market.
7. Financial Literacy: Lessons in financial planning will be added to the mathematics curriculum and a grade 10 career preparation course.
8. Housing: Later this spring, the Conservatives intend to release a “Housing Supply Action Plan,” with the promise of cutting development costs and making it easier to build rental housing.
9. Alcohol Giveaways: Wineries, breweries and distilleries will no longer face restrictions on the size of samples available at their manufacturing sites. In addition, casinos will be allowed to promote complimentary drinks for gamblers.
10. Apprenticeships: New financial incentives will be introduced to encourage employers to train apprentices. The province will also create a new Northern Ontario internship program, open to any new entrants to the workforce.
11. Social assistance: Individuals on Ontario Works will be able to earn $300 per month before a reduction in their social assistance benefits, up from $200. Meanwhile, Ontario Disability Support Program recipients will have an annual exemption of $6,000 rather than $200 per month. For both programs, benefits will be cut by 75 cents for each dollar earned beyond these exemptions.
12. Wine Taxes: The government won’t implement a roughly three per cent increase to taxes on wine by the previous Liberal government. It was scheduled to take place on April 1.
13. Lotteries: Customers will be able to purchase tickets for games such as 6/49 and Pro-line through their smartphones. It will also be easier to buy lottery tickets through the check-out lanes of some supermarkets.