March 25, 2020

Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19

On March 25, the government of Ontario released Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.

The action plan includes $7 billion in additional resources for the healthcare system and direct support for people and jobs. It also will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets.

Healthcare Resources

The plan includes $3.3 billion in additional health care resources to protect the health and well-being of the people of Ontario.

Job Protection and Financial Aid for Ontarians

Ontario announced $3.7 billion to directly and urgently support people and to protect jobs.

Key initiatives include:

Childcare aid

  • A one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.
  • Emergency child care options to support parents working on the front lines, such as health care workers, police officers, firefighters, and correctional officers.

Doubling the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months.

Affordable energy

  • $5.6 billion for electricity cost relief programs in 2020-21, which is an increase of approximately $1.5 billion compared to the 2019 Budget plan.
  • Setting electricity prices for residential, farm, and small business time-of-use customers at off-peak prices, 24 hours a day for 45 days.
  • Expanding eligibility for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Employer Health Tax exemption – Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the EHT exemption.

Expanding access to the Ontario Works emergency assistance program to help more people meet basic needs such as food and rent during this emergency.

Increased funds for charities – Enhancing funding for organizations such as food banks, homeless shelters, churches, and emergency services to improve their ability to respond to COVID-19.

Student loan payment deferral – Six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for students.

A new corporate income tax credit, the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit.

Indigenous community support – $26 million to Indigenous peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, and costs for healthcare professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations.

Tax deferrals

  • Five months of interest and penalty relief for businesses to file and make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes.
  • Deferring the upcoming June 30 quarterly municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, which will provide municipalities the flexibility to provide property tax deferrals to residents and businesses.
  • Allowing employers to defer WSIB payments for up to six months.

Source: Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19