Nov. 5, 2020: Ontario Budget 2020

November 5, 2020

Government of Ontario Releases 2020 Budget

This afternoon Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips, released Ontario’s 2020-2021 Budget and provided an update to Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support and Recover. The document is primarily focused on health care, supporting people and economic recovery.

  • Protect: $15.2 billion to protect people from the COVID-19
  • Support: $13.5 billion to support families, workers, and employers at greatest risk during the second wave.
  • Recover: $4.8 billion to remove barriers to growth, create jobs and recover.

The Budget contains some initiatives and spending plans that are of interest to Ontario’s unionized ICI construction sector:

Retraining and Skilled Trades

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers lost their jobs. September showed a strong recovery in employment, however, unemployment remained elevated at 9.5 per cent. By connecting workers most impacted by COVID-19 with the training they need and helping industries find the skilled workers they need to grow, the province claims jobs can be created and Ontario’s recovery can be supported.

The Province is planning to invest an additional $180.5 million, to help people retrain and upgrade their skills, over three years in micro-credentials, employment services and training programs, including apprenticeships.

COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Skills Plan

Through Employment Ontario, the Province committed to fund $100 million in 2020-21 for skills training programs for workers most affected by COVID-19. This dedicated funding will help more workers receive the guidance and assistance they need to upgrade their skills and find good jobs.

Ontario’s Skilled Trades Strategy

The province came out with three pillars of Ontario’s Skilled Trades Strategy, designed to modernize Ontario’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system, and help enable the province’s economic recovery by breaking the stigma, simplifying the system and encouraging employer participation.

Some of the Provinces key initiatives in 2020-21 is to break the stigma and attract and train youth in the skilled trades.

  • $17 million in increase awareness of careers in the skilled trades through Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program
  • $6 million boost in funding through Skills Ontario
  • Investing $21 million in Ontario’s Pre-Apprenticeship Training program
  • Providing an additional $500,000 to pre-apprenticeship training service providers
  • Appointing three Youth Advisors
  • Investing $42 million in Specialist High Skills Major programs

The Province is investing an additional $75 million over the next two years to make it easier for people to be part of the skilled trades.

  • Appointing a five-member Skilled Trades Panel to provide recommendations on ways to modernize the system
  • Investing $2.5 million this year and $7.5 million next year to launch the new non-repayable Tools Grant
  • Investing $5.8 million in the Apprentice Development Benefit, including a $1.3 million boost this year and next
  • Investing $24 million in the Apprentice Development Benefit to supplement EI benefits, including a $4 million boost this year and next
  • Investing $4.7 million in 2021-22 in multi-year commitment to develop new digital portal to support skilled trades and apprenticeship system in Ontario
  • Committing a total of $211.9 million to the In-class Enhancement Fund in 2020-21 and 2021-22, including a boost of $11.8 million this year and $22.3 million next year
  • Investing an additional $10 million in 2021-22 in the Apprenticeship Capital Grant for a total investment of $24 million
  • Investing $5.4 million to assist training delivery agents with implementing COVID-19 health and safety measures

The Province is making an effort to increase employer participation in sponsoring and hiring trained apprentices by:

  • Establishing a new Skills Development Fund which will provide $30 million over two years beginning in 2020-21
  • Investing $21 million in 2020-21 to support a new Achievement Incentive Grant for employers
  • Supporting business participation by investing $20 million in 2020-21 for a new Group Sponsorship Grant to encourage small to medium sized employers to provide full scope training
  • Working with industry on workforce planning for major infrastructure projects

It is the Provinces hope that together with these changes, we will ensure the skilled trades in Ontario grow and meet future demands by connecting employers with the talent they need. The Province’s capital plan requires a strong skilled trades and professional workforce.

Ontario’s budget provides $15 billion in new spending, bringing the government’s total COVID-19 response supports to $45 billion over three-years. The “Recover” component of the government’s action plan includes $4.8 billion in new spending. Highlights include an additional $680 million over four years for broadband infrastructure, and an extra $1.3 billion over three years to reduce electricity costs to industrial and commercial employers.

In addition to the new $680 broadband infrastructure funding, Ontario’s capital plan currently includes:

  • $62.7 billion over ten years for public transit projects including the Ontario Line, the Scarborough Subway Extension, the Yonge North Subway Extension, and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. The Province indicated that it is accelerating the delivery of its subway expansion projects and calling on the federal government to put up 40% of the total costs.
  • $27.2 billion over ten years for hospital projects including the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority New Replacement Hospital, Unity Health — St. Joseph’s Health Centre Redevelopment project, the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, and the South Bruce Grey Health Centre — Kincardine Site Phase 1 Redevelopment project.
  • $1 billion for the newly established COVID-19 Resilience stream, which provides for the accelerated delivery of priority municipal infrastructure projects, school retrofits, and long-term care facilities.

Ontario’s Infrastructure Spending Outlook ($ Millions)

2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 10-Year Total
Transit 4,799 5,457 5,844 62,708
Provincial Highways 2,587 2,561 2,764 22,017
Hospitals 2,064 2,573 2,557 27,229
Education 2,392 2,567 2,388 20,073
Postsecondary Education 634 629 486 4,225
Social 168 232 192 2,351
Justice 615 822 850 4,348
Total* 15,767 17,571 18,007 162,679

Source: 2020 Ontario Budget

*Total includes several smaller sector categories excluded from this table; Total also includes third-party investments primarily in hospitals, colleges and schools.


Ontario has also made some investments in wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. These include:

  • $15 million over two years to improve the management of Lake Ontario wastewater and stormwater discharges.
  • $10 million for wastewater monitoring and public reporting and reporting of sewage overflows from municipal systems in the Great Lakes.
  • $12 million over two years to pilot COVID-19 detection technology in raw wastewater systems.

COVID-19 has led to a significant change in the projection for Ontario GDP since the 2019 Budget. The 2019 Budget projected Ontario real GDP would rise by 7.1% between 2020 and 2023. Currently, the planning projection assumes that real GDP will rise by 3.6% over the same period. This is $28 billion lower than what was projected in the 2019 Budget.

For a complete copy of the Ontario Budget, click here.



Katherine Jacobs
Director of Research

Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
180 Attwell Drive, Suite 360, Toronto, ON M9W 6A9
P 416.620.5210 ext. 222
F 416.620.5310