Budget Week

The release of both federal and provincial budgets last week generated much news coverage and commentary although neither budget revealed any real new direction or investments not previously announced or leaked. Each contains commendable elements that are necessary to support the development of strong healthy communities and address critical health promotion issues but the gains are small and, as commentators noted, may be overshadowed by an overall underinvestment in needed public services and rising inflation rates.

Here is a brief summary of a few highlights:

Federal Budget

•    Federal surplus of $1.4 billion projected for the 2015-16 fiscal year
•    Expected 2% economic growth in 2015
•    Compassionate-care benefits extended to six months to help those caring for ill family members
•    Renewal of the Canadian Mental Health Commission mandate for a further 10 years
•    $750 million over two years to promote investment in public transit
•    Additional funds to support advanced research infrastructure in universities & research hospitals
•    Increased transfers for health care over the next 5 years
•    Various tax relief measures for families (expansion of the universal child care benefit, increase in family tax credit,  child care expense deductions and children’s fitness tax credit
•    Regulatory changes and tax measures that aim to encourage investments in the charitable sector

In the News

Provincial Budget

•   Read the budget: Building Ontario Up – 2015 Ontario Budget

•  Projected deficit of $8.6 billion; commitment to eliminate deficit by 2017-18
•    $130 billion over ten years to infrastructure including roads, bridges, transit, hospitals and schools; “The largest investment in infrastructure in Ontario’s history”
•    Additional $200 million in the Jobs and Prosperity Fund
•    Invest $250 million in Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy
•    New Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment
•    Growth in health, education and children and youth services spending limited to between 1.9-2.9%
•    Highlighted previous announcements and initiatives including:
•    The Health Kids Challenge Fund, Renewed Poverty Strategy
•    The next phase of Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions strategy
•    Financial assistance for in vitro fertilization
•    Creation of more child care spaces in underutilized schools
•    Increased minimum wage
•   Making Healthy Choices and Child Care Modernization Acts.

In the News

• Ontario budget 2015: Full text
• RNAO commends government for commitments to NPs in long-term care, RN prescribing and evidence-based care, and calls for a stop to RN replacement
• Editorial: Ontario’s legacy of debt
• Ontario Liberals look to make big cuts to climb out of deficit
• Ontario budget continues hard line on health care in bid to tackle deficit
• Budget 2015 a good step for Ontario’s seniors in long-term care homes
• Ontario budget winners and losers
• Ontario health budget rises, but by much less than last year
• Ontario budget 2015: Fewer restrictions for OSAP-eligible students
Ontario budget 2015: Kicks the can on fixing Ontario’s real problems
Budget 2015 a good step for Ontario’s seniors
Provincial budget does little to close the care gap for seniors