Mar. 24, 2021: Ontario Budget 2021

March 24, 2021

Government of Ontario Releases 2021 Budget

This afternoon, Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy released Ontario’s 2021 Budget titled Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. The document is primarily focused on the immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding $6 billion since the Fall Economic Statement, bringing Ontario’s total pandemic response to $51 billion.

The budgets three main pillars:

  • $16.3 billion for health and mental health

  • $23.3 billion to support the economy

  • $11.3 billion in supports for families and businesses

Ontario’s Economic Outlook

Ontario’s economy has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between May 2020 and February 2021, Ontario employment has risen by 829,400 net jobs but remained 305,300 (-4.1 per cent) below its pre-pandemic level. Ontario’s real GDP is projected to rise 4.0 per cent in 2021, 4.3 per cent in 2022, 2.5 per cent in 2023 and 2.0 per cent in 2024. The Ontario government is projecting total revenue to be $154 billion, $186.1 in total spending with a deficit of $33.1 billion in 2021-22.

Investment in Infrastructure

A key element of the government’s plan to create growth is investment in infrastructure, including strategic investments in transit, highways, schools, hospitals and broadband. Planned investments over the next 10 years total $145.4 billion, including $16.9 billion in 2021-22.
Key highlights in the capital plan include:

• $30.2 billion over the next 10 years, including an additional $3 billion since the 2020 Budget, in hospital infrastructure. Significant new investments in major hospital projects currently under construction or in various stages of planning include

o Support for a new inpatient care tower in Etobicoke and a complete rebuild of the Mississauga hospital in partnership with Trillium Health Partners
o New construction at Peel Memorial, in partnership with William Osler Health system
o Expansion of inpatient beds and ambulatory care at London Health Sciences Centre and to expand the Stem Cell Transplant union to double its current capacity
o Funding to support planning of a new regional hospital in Windsor-Essex
o Support for a new hospital and a lodge in Moosonee, as well as a new ambulatory care center on Moose Factory Island

• Development of four, new long-term care homes in Mississauga, Ajax and Toronto under the Long-Term Care Accelerated Build Pilot Program

• Investing in the development of a new children’s treatment center in Chatham-Kent

• Continuing to support building a children’s treatment center in Ottawa as part of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

• $61.6 billion over 10 years for public transit
o The four priority subway projects in the GTA
o The updated Hamilton LRT project
o The Go Rail Expansion program
o The Kitchener GO Rail Expansion project

• More than $21 billion over 10 years to support the planning and/or construction of highway expansion and rehabilitation projects across the province

• Funding support for the education sector through new, expanded and upgraded schools

• Provincial funding to support infrastructure projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). Ontario has nominated over 760 projects to the federal government

• $200 million to provide infrastructure funding to larger, strategic projects and to sports facilities through the newly established Strategic Priorities and Infrastructure Fund

• $200 million annually for the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) to help eligible communities attract jobs and investments, as well as build local capacity to grow and thrive

• Doubling investments in the Indigenous Community Capital Grants Program, which will help address long‐term infrastructure needs and fast‐track shovel‐ready and off‐reserve projects. As part of this investment, Ontario will provide $6 million annually to fund upgrades to critical infrastructure, address COVID‐19 specific capital needs and support long‐term economic recovery in Indigenous communities
To ensure that Ontario has the skilled labour it needs for priority infrastructure projects, proponents of the Ontario Line subway project will provide information on in-demand trades and subtrades necessary to support project completion in their responses to RFPs. The successful proponent will enter into discussions with the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development regarding apprenticeship training supports, including strategic voluntary targets and financial incentives.

Helping Workers with the Cost of Training

For a total of an estimated $260 million in support to about 230,000 people in 2021, the government is proposing a new Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit which would provide $2,000 per recipient for 50 percent of eligible expenses.
Providing Employment and Training Supports – COVID-19 Response
$85.0 million to support the Skills Development Fund to help training and employment organizations assist workers during the province’s economic recovery. The funded projects will give laid‐off workers immediate access to training supports or new jobs, improve the quality of training, support traditionally underrepresented groups.

Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades

Ontario is investing a total of $288.2 million in 2021-22 in its Skilled Trades Strategy, which includes the following enhancements:

• Providing an additional $38.6 million over three years to expand the Specialist High Skills Major program

• Investing $3 million over three years in a new pilot bursary program for hands-on learning in the skilled trades

• Expanding the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)

• Developing a digital portal that will enable secure, convenient access to online information and services for apprentices

Protecting Workers

Over the past year, Ontario initiated and implemented a wide range of measures to promote workplace health and safety, protect workers and help reduce the spread of COVID‐19 in workplaces. Ontario is building on these efforts by ensuring that resources are available for employers and workers through initiatives that include:

• Providing free occupational health and safety training for health and safety representatives in up to 60,000 small businesses by investing $3.5 million annually over a three-year period, focused on helping to lower injury rates and improve health and safety awareness and practices in small businesses

• Releasing an online COVID-19 safety plan builder so small businesses can develop custom COVID-19 safety plans the comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Reopening Ontario Act

• Increasing funding for the Ontario Mine Rescue program by $2.9 million in 2021-22

• Renewing the occupational health and safety strategy for 2021 to 2026

• Supporting Ontario’s Safe Employers, a voluntary program to promote health and safety and reduce injuries and illness in the workplace

Providing Employment & Training Supports

Ontario continues to support workers hardest hit by the COVID‐19 pandemic by investing an additional $614.3 million during 2020–21 and 2021–22 to provide targeted employment and training supports. This includes up to:

• $85 million to support Skills Development Fund to help training and employment organizations assist workers during province’s economic recovery

• $117.3 million to assist women, racialized individuals, Indigenous peoples, youth, and people with disabilities who are facing the highest rates of unemployment during the pandemic

• $157.2 million to provide workers in the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic with career counselling and urgent training to find new careers and good jobs

• $60.8 million to upgrade and expand high‐speed internet and other digital infrastructure so community organizations, training providers and colleges can provide employment and training services remotely to workers in every corner of the province, including rural, remote, and Northern regions

• $194 million to further support Ontario workers with additional employment and training programs and services that are responsive to the province’s economic recovery

Click here to view the full budget.



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