Here are the top line highlights of today's 2012 Ontario Budget:
- Reduces spending by more than $17 billion over the next three years.
- Two-year wage freeze for about a million public sector workers, including teachers and doctors, hiking user fees and closing schools and jails.
- Deficit for 2011-2012 at $15.3 billion, a billion lower than forecast last year, on track to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18.
- Ontario economy is only projected to grow 1.7 per cent in 2012, 2.2 per cent in 2013 and 2.4 per cent in 2014.
- Postponing planned corporate tax cuts that had been scheduled for 2012 and 2013. The rate will be frozen at 11.5 per cent, for a savings of $1.5 billion over three years, and cuts will resume when the province balances the books.
- Underfunded public sector pensions must make up funding gaps either with increased employee contributions or a decrease in benefits, rather than further government top-ups.
- Health-care spending capped to 2.1 per cent annually.
- Shaving $30 million from the public drug plan by having seniors with incomes over $100,000 and couples with a combined income of $160,000, which would affect about 75,000 seniors, pay higher deductibles.
- Amalgamating school boards in areas of low populations and consolidating "underutilized" schools by reducing the amount of money boards receive to keep them open.
- Effectively ending the high school "victory lap" by capping credits at 34 to save $36 million over three years.
- Shaving $34.3 million from student transportation.
- Capping the 10 per cent rebate on hydro bills to 3,000 kilowatt hours per month — targeting small businesses rather than households — to save $470 million over three years.
- Delay high-occupancy vehicle lane projects designed to unclog traffic jams in densely-populated cities.
- Close seven tourism centres.
- Close two more jails in Brantford and Chatham — on top of four others — and reduce overtime for jail guards and Ontario Provincial Police.
- Consolidation of business support programs into a Jobs and Prosperity Fund, that will focus on job creation.
These measures are on top of a slew of other announcements in recent weeks, including freezing welfare and delaying increases to the Ontario Child Benefit, increasing driver license fees, expanding gambling and selling off government buildings and the Ontario Northland rail service.
For more information on the 2012 Ontario Budget: