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Highlights from the Ontario budget unveiled on Wednesday

Last Updated Mar 28, 2018 at 4:58 pm EDT

A copy of the Budget document is seen as the Ontario Provincial Government delivers its 2018 Budget at the Queens Park Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

As the provincial election looms, the Liberals are putting seniors and families front-and-centre of its 2018 budget. With a title of “A Plan for Care and Opportunity,” the Liberals are trying to make life more affordable for some of the province’s most vulnerable people.

After a flurry of press events over the last week, the budget offered only a few surprises.

Here are some of the 2018 Budget highlights:

  • Ontario’s new Drug and Dental Plan will help those without workplace health benefits, or those who have needs not covered by OHIP+ or other government programs. The plan will reimburse eligible Ontarians 80 per cent of the cost – up to $400 per single person, $600 per couple and $700 for a family of four. However, no specific details have been released on what procedures or prescriptions will and will not be covered under the new plan.
  • Expanding on last year’s pharmacare announcement, the Liberal’s new OHIP+ plan will now give seniors over 65 years of age free prescription drug coverage. As well, by eliminating the Ontario Drug Benefit annual deductible and co-pay, Ontario seniors will save about $240 a year.
  • Active and independent seniors will benefit from the new Seniors’ Healthy Home Program. The program will provide a benefit of up to $750 annually for eligible households led by seniors 75 years of age and older.
  • The province is investing more than $17 billion over four years for mental health and addiction services for Ontario children, young people and adults — including publicly funded psychotherapy, supportive housing and increased supports for everyone, with targeted services for Indigenous, racialized and LGBTQI2S communities.
  • The Good Jobs and Growth Plan will see $935 million in new investments over the next three years. The plan will include modernizing Ontario’s apprenticeship system, helping businesses compete globally, expanding trade opportunities for Ontario businesses and expanding broadband infrastructure in rural and urban communities.
  • Income taxes are going to go up for Ontarians making over $92,000 per year. Under the newly proposed Ontario Personal Income Tax (PIT) plan the surtax would be eliminated but the tax brackets would change. Under the new format, nearly two million Ontarians would see themselves paying more income tax.
  • Flights could soon cost you more as the province is looking to review the way payments in lieu of property taxes (PILT) are calculated for airports. Currently, airports pay based on the number of passengers travelling through the airport annually, instead of paying property taxes. No changes to the rates used to calculate PILT have been made since 2001. The province will consult with airport authorities and municipalities affected in its review.
  • The budget has a projected deficit of $6.7 billion in 2018-19, $6.6 billion in 2019-20 and $6.5 billion in 2020-21. According to the Minister, the plan is to return to a balanced budget in 2024-25 through fiscal management.