Posted March 27, 2012
Noting Ontario’s strong track record in establishing one of the most competitive tax regimes in North America, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan called on business to do its part to fight the province’s $15 billion deficit by foregoing for a while ongoing tax reductions. Indicated he would freeze the corporate tax rate of 11.5% until the Budget is restored to balance.
The Drummond Report noted the proliferation of frequently duplicative business services in Ontario and called for a complete overhaul of Ontario business services. Mr. Duncan today announced his decision to begin this process by creating a Jobs and Prosperity Council. The Council will provide advice on “Ontario’s productivity and innovation challenges as well as on measures to improve research and development tax credits to increase business R&D expenditure and simplify compliance and administration. The Council will also provide advice on how to consolidate and refocus – through the lens of productivity and innovation – the $2 billion Ontario currently spends on business support programs.
Except for compensation freezes, the Budget mainly preserved the philosophy and direction of the Government’s investments in education even preserving the 30% Off Ontario Tuition Grant and maintaining class sizes.
The Budget promises to “transform healthcare.” It carries relatively few specific references to technology but it does talk about the need to streamline care and make wider use of a broader array of treatment centres. The Government is introducing reforms to enable LHINs to promote a seamless coordination of the treatment patients receive across various health providers. It also plans to shift procedures currently conducted in hospitals to community-based clinics where they can be performed faster and at lower cost.
The Minister announced plans to continue to reduce the size of the Ontario public service and forecasts a reduction of 1,000 full-time jobs over the next two years. This will continue to underscore the importance of expanding Service Ontario’s use of public-private partnership models to deliver more services online at a more affordable cost in partnership with private sector experts in this field.