Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara unveiled the Liberal government's first budget today, and it includes the reintroduction of health care premiums, and higher sin taxes are among the measures introduced in today's provincial budget. Here are some budget highlights:
Families earning in the $20,000-to-$36,000 range will pay $300 a year for health care premiums, and those earning over $200,000 will pay $900 a year.
Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara said the premiums will bring in $1.63 billion in their first year, with the money going toward the $4.8 billion in additional health-care spending planned for the next four years.
The money will be used to create 8,000 new full-time nursing positions; more than 3,700 new long-term care beds; nine new MRI and CT scan sites; and 150 "family health teams."
But their will be cuts to government spending in some health care areas too.
Biannual vision tests will no longer be covered by OHIP unless you're a senior citizen or under 20;
Chiropractic fees previously covered by OHIP have been taken off the list, and you'll have to pay to see a physiotherapists,unless you're a senior citizen receiving treatment through home care or a long-term care facility;
Starting tomorrow cigarettes will cost $2.50 more for a carton of 200. Booze isn't excempt either. The tax on a 750-ml bottle of liquor increases 25 cents June 21 while the tax on the same-sized bottle of wine goes up 15 cents June 21, the same day as a 45 cent tax hike on a 24 of beer.
The right to drive will get more expensive too Sept.1, when drivers licence fees go up to $75 from $50.
Welfare and disability benefits will be increased by three per cent;
Over four years, $2.1 billion in new spending will be dedicated to schools, aimed at shrinking class sizes, hiring teachers and buying new textbooks;
Public transit, road and bridges, will receive $3.3 billion in funding including one cent of the provincial gas tax for cities, starting in October.
Colleges, universities and hospitals will receive $27 million to help them identify discoveries with commercial potential.
They'll also receive $36 million to help them create start-up capital funds to market new technology.
Ontario's microbreweries and winemakers will receive $15 million to help with their marketing.