Third Quarter Finances Demonstrate Ontario's Unwavering Commitment to Protect Individuals, Families and BusinessesPublished on February 10, 2021
Government’s urgent COVID-19 response funding has been fully allocated
TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government released the province's 2020-21 Third Quarter Finances, which demonstrates an unwavering commitment to support individuals, families and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report shows that the government is projecting to spend $25 billion more than last year, including an additional $2.6 billion since the 2020 Budget. These investments are being used to deliver the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, to provide more hospital supplies and PPE, and to better protect long-term care homes and child care settings.
"Our priority remains protecting lives and livelihoods and defeating this virus," said Minister Bethlenfalvy. "That's why we are spending $25 billion more this year than we did last year. It's why our government outlined our $45 billion action plan in response to COVID-19 in the fall Budget. And it's why, since then, we have been focused on beating this second wave. Today's report - which outlines record levels of government spending - demonstrates that."
Since the 2020 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, significant additional investments have been made as part of the Ontario government's urgent COVID-19 response, including:
- $1.4 billion to launch the Ontario Small Business Support Grant to help small businesses that are required to close or significantly restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown, with grants starting at $10,000 and up to $20,000.
- $869 million in additional investments for the hospital sector for supplies and equipment to address the surge in COVID-19 cases, including testing, swabs, saliva tubes and test kits, bringing the total increase in funding to hospitals since 2019-20 to $3.4 billion.
- $609 million to support the procurement of additional personal protective equipment (PPE), critical supplies, equipment and continued support for essential supply chain operations.
- $398 million in additional support to respond to the impact of COVID-19 in the long-term care sector, which includes continued prevention and containment measures and more funding to support implementation of testing guidelines.
- $235 million in additional supports to protect children and staff in child care and early years settings.
COVID-19 has led to unprecedented uncertainty for governments in Canada and around the world. To ensure Ontario could respond quickly to changing circumstances, the government's budget plan built in historic levels of flexible, time-limited funding and extraordinary contingencies of $13.3 billion in 2020-21. The 2020-21 Third Quarter Finances shows that these funds were fully allocated in the third quarter, and other governments have since followed this approach.
Additionally, the government is now using the fiscal reserve to top up the standard contingency fund, making an additional $2.1 billion available for spending before the end of the year. This added contingency will ensure the government can continue to respond with flexibility during the second wave, as well as to the emergence of new, concerning variants of COVID-19.
"Today's update shows we have allocated all of the time-limited and extraordinary contingencies for this fiscal year so that we could remain responsive as the pandemic continued to unfold," said Minister Bethlenfalvy. "While some have criticized us for setting aside funds, thank goodness we had the resources available to respond to the second wave. We will continue to be ready for anything. Today I am making an additional $2.1 billion in funding available for our COVID-19 response this year."
Despite extraordinary uncertainty over the past year, each quarter the government has delivered on its commitment to transparency and accountability in Ontario's finances by releasing a fiscal update. The 2020-21 Third Quarter Finances is the first fiscal report since the 2020 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.The government will provide its next update on Ontario's finances and the government's plan to continue the fight against COVID-19 in the 2021 Budget, to be delivered no later than March 31, 2021.
- The Fiscal Sustainability, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2019, requires Ontario’s fiscal plan to incorporate prudence in the form of a reserve to protect the fiscal outlook against unforeseen, adverse changes in the Province’s outlook, including those resulting from changes in Ontario’s economic performance.
- Program expenses are projected to be $2.6 billion higher than the 2020 Budget, largely due to investments in hospitals, long-term care homes, and business support.