Ontario to spend $2.1 B to bolster health system COVID-19 response

Unemployed Canadians anxiously awaiting federal COVID-19 help

Government health officials just confirmed an increase of 170 cases of COVID-19 in Ontario today, bringing the province's total to 858.

Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte and Ontario's Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, welcomed the government's significant investment of $17 billion to address COVID-19 as part of Minister of Finance Rod Phillips' March Economic and Fiscal Update.

Seniors will see a six-month doubling of the guaranteed annual income system.

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) announced yesterday the region now has 21 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases with 20 in Simcoe County and one in Muskoka. Phillips told reporters after the release of Wednesday's fiscal update that even zero economic growth for 2020 was "a very, very prudent projection".

"Although it is clear that Ontario has and will continue to be impacted, the extent of the full impact on the province remains uncertain", the document says.

Canada's most populous province and economic engine forecast a deficit of C$20.5 billion in the fiscal year beginning on April 1, including a C$2.5 billion reserve, an economic update from the Progressive Conservative government showed. It also includes $61-million for vaccine development and $75-million for personal protective equipment for front-line workers.

"As this pandemic unfolds, we need to be flexible and respond rapidly", Phillips said.

Ontario is spending an additional $17 billion to step up efforts against the coronavirus.

New spending measures mean the province projects a deficit of $9.2 billion in 2019-20, an improvement of $1.1 billion relative to the 2019 budget, but will rise to $20.5 billion in 2020-21.

An increase of $160 million in public health funding to support COVID-19 monitoring, surveillance, and laboratory and home testing, while also investing in virtual care and Telehealth Ontario.

The document contains no multiyear outlook, something Mr. Phillips says will be included in a budget now scheduled for November 15.

Parents will see one-time payments of $200 for each student, $250 for each child with special needs students who are out of school to pay for unexpected school-related expenses.

Sarnia-Lambton reported its first five cases, all of five of which are patients aged 60 to more than 80 who were admitted to hospital.

Provision of approximately $5.6 billion for electricity cost relief programs for eligible residential, farm, and small business consumers in 2020-2021, an increase of about $1.5 billion in comparison to the 2019 Budget plan. Municipalities will be given temporary fiscal room to defer property taxes.

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