Ontario budget aims to fix 'broken' auto insurance by reducing regulation, costs

Ontario budget aims to fix 'broken' auto insurance by reducing regulation, costs

The Progressive Conservative government is slashing the budget of Legal Aid Ontario, including eliminating funding for refugee and immigration law services.

The emphasis on booze comes as the Tories constrain program spending across the board in an effort to chip away at a deficit that stands at $11.7 billion.

The provincial budget proposes cuts in post-secondary education and social services, scaling back the growth in spending projected by Ontario's former Liberal government.

"We have developed a reasonable path to balance", Fedeli said.

Much as the federal Liberals did in 2015, the Ford government is pledging to balance Ontario's books several years down the road.

One new goodie is a child-care tax credit, providing up to $6,000 per child under seven and up to $3,750 per child between seven and 16, on a sliding scale for families earning less than $150,000 annually. They are also promising to create 30,000 child-care spaces over five years.

A new government dental insurance program for low-income seniors without coverage will begin in 2019. The government also plans to allow bars, restaurants and other licensed establishments to serve alcohol starting at 9 a.m. This is why the government plans to expand the sale of beer and wine to corner stores, big box stores and more grocery stores.

Commercial plates will carry Premier Doug Ford's election slogan: "open for business". The government spent $500,000 on a consultation on branding but has a new contract for licence plate production that saves $4 million.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath described this budget as one that slashes spending and attacks the less fortunate. "It's just shameful that this is a priority of Doug Ford is to have his ego on the back of everybody's auto".

"I think it will cause a lot of rear-ending", she joked.

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"The amount is significant", Bonnie said.

Education spending is up 11% and health spending increases by more than 5% compared to last year's Liberal plan.

The government is staying on the course of the previous Wynne government in its willingness to work with development-ready First Nation communities near the deposits, with specific mentions of Webequie and Marten Falls.

The government is delivering on its commitment to reduce business taxes earlier than promised by providing $3.8 billion in Ontario Corporate Income Tax relief over six years to support business investment through the Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive.

"They inherited a disastrous financial situation and they've tried to balance fiscal responsibility against the continuing needs of the people while constrained by enormous record debt", he said.

Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce president Charla Robinson pointed to changes to the Ontario immigration nominee program as an exciting piece.

"We have been lagging significantly in terms of productivity measures vis a vis our global competitors - this is an important step", he said.

Something the budget did not include: a gas tax increase. In addition to tackling the deficit, the government is also taking aim at the net debt - now pegged at $343 billion - through ensuring surpluses and unused reserve or contingency funds go to paying it down.

The government also plans to introduce legislation to allow insurers to provide better auto insurance coverage options based on a driver's credit history or by agreeing to use preferred providers for auto fix or health care services.

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