2019 Ontario Budget Funding Highlights
The Ford Government released its first budget last week, announcing several new opportunities for Ontario companies. Titled “Protecting What Matters Most”, the 2019 budget emphasizes support for families, the elderly, and Ontario businesses. The budget’s main priority is to support Ontario businesses by focusing on four economic priorities: talent; research and commercialization; entrepreneurship and growth; and investment attraction. The budget also features targeted funding for research and development particularly in the automotive sector, emphasizing deregulation that will improve competitiveness for Ontario businesses. Here are some funding highlights:
Automotive Industry Benefits
The government will invest $40 million to target three main areas for future programming within the auto industry: competition, innovation and talent. By exploring ways to strategically invest in the industry to drive prosperity, the government aims to attract new assembly plants to Ontario and increase foreign direct investment. The budget also addresses new internship and experimental learning opportunities that will be announced throughout the year.
The province also intends to launch the Ontario Automotive Modernization Program (OAMP) to assist automotive parts suppliers to adopt technology and become more productive, innovative and export‐focused. This will benefit many auto-parts manufacturers that are encountering trade obstacles in foreign markets.
Regional Economic Development
The budget plans to address the economic performance in underperforming regions. The Open for Business, Open for Jobs Strategy will try to bolster business opportunities by creating an environment that supports economic development and job creation, regionally, throughout the province.
Research and Development
The Province will dedicate funding to Ontario entrepreneurs investing in innovative solutions for technological problems facing the government. The Province will hold consultations prior to implementing new programs, to devise the most effective method to distribute R&D funding.
The 2019 budget has allocated $200 million to modernize 405 small and rural municipalities allowing them to deliver more efficient services. Eligible modernized services can include information technology solutions, service delivery reviews and the development of shared service agreements.
Employee Skills Training Programs
Ontario will allocate funds to skills training activities for job seeking Canadians, to ensure that people can find full-time employment. This will include a review of the supports provided to employers who want to invest in training and development of their workforce. This strategy relies on additional federal funding to provide adequate capital for skills and training programs, like the Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG).
Emissions Reduction Fund
While green initiatives funded through the previous government’s Cap and Trade program have been cancelled, the 2019 budget has allocated $400 million over four years for partnerships with private companies to deploy low-carbon and clean technology solutions. This funding will be available to sectors including: transportation; industry and manufacturing; residential and commercial development; and municipal governments.
The government has allocated $105 million annually to invest in racetracks and $10 million annually to support horse breeding and equine industry development programs. This funding, targeted towards rural communities, will be administered through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.
Office of Economic Growth and Innovation
The government will create an Office of Economic Growth and Innovation to support economic development through investment in new technologies in capital markets. This office will promote capital formation, technology adoption, and collaboration with businesses to support economic growth, by providing funding opportunities that support innovative projects.
Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive (Tax Credit)
The Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive features a 100% write-off on manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment, as well as clean energy equipment. This is estimated to provide over $3.8 billion in tax relief over six years for Ontario companies.
Existing Program Expansions
Expanding the Northern Ontario Internship Program
The budget will expand the eligibility for Indigenous peoples and Northern-Ontario-based skilled labourers to address labour shortages in the region. The expansion will remove the requirement that applicants be recent university or college graduates. Qualified candidates will now include new entrants into the workforce, those transitioning to a new career, the unemployed and the underemployed.
Francophone Community Grants Program
The budget will increase the scope of the Francophone Community Grants Program to emphasize economic development opportunities for local and regional Francophone economies. This investment will benefit community‐based projects, as well as provide funding to Francophone businesses, entrepreneurs and relevant not‐for‐profit organizations.
Ontario Music Fund
Reviews will be conducted with Ontario Creates to modernize the Ontario Music Fund, focusing on activities that yield the most value to the province. The Province intends to refocus its investments into the creation of opportunities for emerging talent to gain recognition and achieve success.