Queen’s Park. Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.ca

With investments in manufacturing, recruitment in the skilled trades, and health care, the Ford government has unveiled its budget for 2023.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy tabled the record $204.7 billion spending plan at Queen’s Park Thursday afternoon.

“Ontario’s economy remains resilient, but the road ahead continues to be uncertain,” said Bethlenfalvy in a news release. “Our government has the right plan to navigate these challenges. We are building Ontario so we can have a strong economy for the future and the infrastructure needed to support growth across the province.”

Spending highlights included in the fiscal blueprint include $70.5 billion in investment in provincial transit over the next 10 years, over $48 billion in planned hospital infrastructure spending over the next 10 years, and another $27.9 billion in spending to support the planning and construction of highway expansion and rehabilitation projects such as the Highway 413 project.

The province also plans to create 86,000 new childcare spaces by December 2026 by spending $15 billion in capital grants over 10 years to expand and renew schools.

As well, spending has been earmarked for enhancing the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program with an additional $25 million over three years in an effort to attract more skilled workers to the province.

Previously announced investments in training centres for the skilled trades and an Ontario-made manufacturing income tax credit were also touted by the PCs as highlights of the new budget.

The government is projecting a deficit of $1.3 billion in 2023–2024 and is on track to post a surplus of $200 million in 2024–2025. The government is also projecting a surplus of $4.4 billion in 2025–2026.

“We have a plan to balance the budget while delivering support to families, workers, and businesses across Ontario,” said Bethlenfalvy.

However, opposition leaders have accused the Ford government of prioritizing balancing the budget over the needs of Ontario residents who are struggling due to inflationary pressures.

“With this budget, we’re seeing the Ford Conservatives make choices that benefit a select few well-connected insiders – at the expense of everyone else,” she said in a posted statement. “Ford is putting his friends first, and Ontarians last.”