Ontario’s newly tabled budget includes education and health-care measures that will affect families’ finances and their access to services. Here are some of those changes:
STUDENT LOANS: Students who qualify for the Ontario Student Assistance Program will be able to receive more money starting in the fall term. The province will no longer deduct the value of a student’s car from their loan, nor will it limit how much students can earn during the school year without triggering a loan reduction. The maximum amount students can borrow will be indexed annually to inflation, rising by $170 per school year for single students in 2015-16. The debt cap _ the level above which student loans are forgiven _ will also be tied to inflation, going up to $7,400 from $7,300.
SHARING SCHOOL SPACE: The province plans to save $58.6 million in 2015-16 by consolidating schools, sharing space between school boards and opening up underutilized school space to community groups. That means some children may have to travel further for school.
MORE CHILD CARE: Some of the underutilized schools will be earmarked for thousands more child care spaces the province promises to create in the next three years, at a cost of $120 million.
INFERTILITY TREATMENTS: Those trying to have children and who struggle with an eligible form of infertility can receive some financial help to cover the cost of one round of in vitro fertilization, but they’ll still have to pay for any associated drugs or services themselves. The province is still hashing out the details of who is eligible and how much they’ll receive, but says the move will increase access to fertility treatments for an estimated 4,000 patients.
POST-SECONDARY SUPPORT: A new $20-million program aims to help graduating high school students figure out their career goals and choose the most appropriate post-secondary education to achieve them.