Ontario releases 2022 budget
Two prongs of the budget address the province's manufacturing sector.
The Ontario provincial government has tabled its new 2022 budget, called Ontario’s Plan to Build.
According to the government, the budget has five pillars:
- Rebuilding Ontario’s Economy
- Working for Workers
- Building Highways and Key Infrastructure
- Keeping Costs Down
- A Plan to Stay Open
The budget includes increases to base program spending at an average annual rate of about five per cent over the next three years, and also presents a recovery plan that will eliminate Ontario’s deficit two years earlier than projected in the 2021 Budget.
“Our government has a plan, and that plan is working,” Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said in a statement. “But the work is not over, and the job is not done. We are ready to get it done for the people of Ontario.”
Rebuilding Ontario’s Economy is the first pillar of the government’s plan. While Ontario lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs between 2004 and 2018, the government will try and create jobs.
- Seizing Ontario’s critical minerals opportunity begins in the North. Critical minerals will become part of the future of clean steel, batteries and hybrid and electric vehicles as the next generation of automobiles are built in Ontario and sold across the world. The government’s plan includes up to $1 billion for legacy infrastructure, such as all-season roads to the Ring of Fire, building the corridor to prosperity. The plan is also supported by a Critical Minerals Strategy and $2 million in 2022–23 and $3 million in 2023–24 to create a Critical Minerals Innovation Fund.
- Helping create good manufacturing jobs as Ontario becomes a North American leader in building the vehicles of the future. No concrete announcements were made here but the government says they will be supporting investments to help make the province a world-leading producer of clean, low-emission steel to help build automobiles in the province.
- Working to bring jobs at provincial agencies to communities across Ontario to help spur economic growth. This begins with exploring the relocation of the headquarters of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to London, working in close partnership with the agency and other partners, and identifying main street communities to headquarter new government agencies.
- Investing nearly $107 million over the next three years to help the province compete with jurisdictions in a global race to develop and own critical technologies.
- Nearly $4 billion to support high-speed internet access to every community in Ontario by the end of 2025.
Working for Workers is the second pillar of the government’s plan.
- Increasing the general minimum wage to $15.50 per hour on October 1, 2022, while guaranteeing digital platform workers the general minimum wage and new, first-in-Canada protections.
- Investing $1 billion annually in employment and training programs to help people retrain and upgrade their skills as the province continues to support better jobs and opportunities for Ontario workers.
- Investing an additional $114.4 million over three years in its Skilled Trades Strategy to break the stigma associated with the skilled trades and simplify the system.
- Expanding college degree granting to help build a pipeline of job-ready graduates in applied fields and allow students to gain the education, experience and skills to enter the workforce faster.
- Providing $268.5 million over three years in additional funding through Employment Ontario to strengthen the government’s skills training and employment programs, including pandemic recovery initiatives.
- Relaunching the Second Career program as Better Jobs Ontario to support a larger, more diverse range of Ontario workers with $5 million in new funding in 2022–23, in addition to the nearly $200 million invested over the last three years. Better Jobs Ontario helps laid-off unemployed workers access the training they need to become qualified for in-demand, well-paying jobs and connects local employers with the high-skilled workers they need.
- Attracting newcomers with a plan that includes an additional $15.1 million over three years in the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), which nominates applicants for permanent residence who have the skills and experience that match Ontario’s labour market needs.
The other three pillars do not relate directly to manufacturing, but include announcements around supporting the building highways and hiring more healthcare workers.
The budget was released a few weeks ahead of the next provincial election, to be held on or before June 2. The legislature has now been adjourned until after that, so the budget won’t pass unless the Progressive Conservatives win a majority.