Ontario rolls out $17 billion COVID-19 aid package

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The province has rolled out $17 billion in new funding and tax deferrals to deal with the fall out of COVID-19.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips delivered a financial statement today to deliver the details. The government has set up a $1 billion COVID-19 fund for emerging needs, $594 million to deal with existing capacity issues, $341 million for 1,000 acute care and 500 critical care beds and additional assessment centers.

Public health funding is increasing $160 million. That cash will also be invested  in virtual care and TeleHealth – which has been swamped with calls since cases of the flu-like virus began surfacing in Ontario.

The province is also investing $75 million for personal protective equipment and medical supplies in hospitals.=.

There is also $3.7 billion to support Ontarians directly. Families with kids under 12 will get a one-time payment of $200 per child and $250 for children with special needs. Some of that money also goes to reduce power bills. $9 million will go to expand Low-income Energy Assistance Program.

The province says there will be more money available for Emergency Assistance through Ontario Works and will enhance funding to social service non-profits like food banks, homeless shelters, churches and emergency services by $148 million.

There is six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for students. And there will an additional $26 million to Indigenous communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, and costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations

The province is also going to allow business to defer tax payments over six months to improve cash flow. That is estimated to be worth about $10 billion.

The province is increasing the number of businesses exempt from the Employer Health Tax. That will cost about $355 million.