â€œThis yearâ€™s budget provides a strong framework for continued growth and prosperity in Thunder Bay-Superior North and all across northern Ontario. Continued investment in the north is vital to protect the gains we made in health care, education and economic development, as we strive to move forward with the many opportunities our natural resources and skilled workforce offers us.â€â€“ Michael Gravelle, MPP Thunder Bay-Superior North
The 2013 Budgetâ€™s strategic investments include:
Jobs and Growth
· The 2013 Budget will see $35 billion invested over the next three years to build and improve infrastructure for transit, schools and hospitals across the province.
· This includes a new $100 million fund for small, rural and northern municipalities to help build roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.
· Our government remains committed to the four-laning of highway 11/17 between Thunder Bay and Nipigon. Work is ongoing and we will soon see construction start on the Nipigon River Bridge.
· Our government will maintain $100 million for The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund to support job creation and strengthen the economies of northern communities. Since October 2003, more than 21,500 jobs have been created by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.
· Our government is investing $360 million over the next three years to continue our commitment to preserving the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate program.
· We are working with First Nation communities as well as Industry to explore and develop mineral extraction activities in the Ring of Fire. We are providing $5M in enhanced funding to First Nation communities and actively working with them towards signed memoranda of understanding.
· Ontarioâ€™s competitive business climate will include an extension of Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) for manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment.
Education and Support for Youth
· The 2013 Budget outlines our governmentâ€™s comprehensive Youth Jobs Strategy which sees $295 million invested over the next 2 years, creating 30,000 new youth employment opportunities â€“ with a special focus on aboriginal and northern youth. This will assist in the development of a highly skilled workforce and address youth out-migration in the north.
· We are developing a multi-year Aboriginal Children and Youth Strategy and will provide an additional $5 million per year to improve student achievement among aboriginal students.
· In addition to the 30%-off tuition grant, our government has announced a new tuition fee framework which will improve accessibility, reduce growth in costs to students and give institutions revenue predictability for the next four years.
· In 2013, our government is providing northern municipalities with $339 million in support through the combined benefit of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund and provincial uploads; an increase of $86 million over the previous program.
· Government support for northern school boards in 2013-14 will total nearly $1.5 billion â€“ a 72% increase in per-pupil funding since 2003.
A Fair Society
· Our government proposes to modify the Ontario Trillium Benefit so that, beginning in 2014, each recipient would have the choice to receive either a monthly or a single payment at the end of the benefit year.
· Working to reduce auto-insurance rates by 15% across the province â€“ benefitting nearly nine million drivers.
· Enabling Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients to keep the first $200 of employment earnings each month before their social assistance benefits are reduced.
· Increasing the maximum annual Ontario Child Benefit in July 2013 to $1,210 per child, and again to $1,310 per child in July 2014. Together, these increases will extend OCB benefits to an additional 90,000 children.
· This year, our government will increase social assistance rates by 1% for adult Ontario Works recipients.
Continuing to Enhance Health Care
· To provide more people with timely access to home and community care, our government recently announced an investment of an additional $260 million to support an additional 46,000 new patients. This investment would reduce wait times for patients and would also help set a target for patients who require nursing services and those with complex needs to receive home care within five days of their Community Care Access Centre assessment.
· In addition to continuing to support travel costs through the Northern Ontario Health Travel Grant, patients will benefit from enhanced virtual connections and e-consultations.
· The Northern Ontario School of Medicine has graduated a total of 220 new doctors since the spring of 2009
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