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Ontario releases $17B COVID-19 action plan

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Shady Salah – Media in Toronto

The Government of Ontario has released a $17B action plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including $10B in support for businesses and individuals.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the government is confident that every dollar invested through the plan that saves a life or a job is a dollar well spent.

“COVID-19 is an extraordinary threat to the health and economy of Ontario – the greatest we’ve faced in my lifetime – and it demands an extraordinary response from all levels of government and civil society because we’re all in this together,” he said while tabling an emergency one-year fiscal outlook.

The spending boost includes a $1-billion COVID-19 contingency fund, nearly $1 billion more for hospitals, and more personal protective equipment for front-line workers.

Measures also include a one-time payment for parents of $200 per child 12 years old and under, doubling payments for low-income seniors and suspending student loan payments for six months.

The plan includes both $7 billion in new spending and $10 billion in tax and other deferrals. The moves will contribute to a major hit to Ontario’s bottom line, pushing the deficit from $9 billion to a projected $20.5 billion for 2020-21 – a level not seen since the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

More than $3 billion in funding is directed toward health care. In addition to the COVID-19 fund and the hospital spending boost – which includes money for 1,000 acute care and 500 critical care beds – the plan includes $243 million for surge capacity in the long-term care sector, $160 million for public health and $75 million for more personal protective equipment and medical supplies.

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