In his remarks, Finance Minister and Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli said the North stands to make "an even greater contribution" to Ontario's cultural and economic success, but recognized this region has its challenges with its lack of economic diversification, an aging population, outmigration and infrastructure gaps. And instead of a quick road to budget balance, Mr. Fedeli's plan is to get there gradually, over five years.
Over the next three years the overall budget for government programs will rise by 0.8 per cent, compared to the 3.3 per cent in growth that the Liberals had planned.
One new goodie is a child-care tax credit, providing up to $6,000 per child under seven and up to $3,750 per child between seven and 16, on a sliding scale for families earning less than $150,000 annually. The Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses credit (CARE) will cost the government around $390 million each year.
A new government dental insurance program for low-income seniors without coverage will begin in 2019.
"As someone who has been working in the criminal justice system for years - not only as defence counsel but also on the other side of the courtroom as a prosecutor - I believe it will not save the public money to implement reform to Legal Aid Ontario's budget", she says. The government also intends to put beer and wine in corner stores.
The opposition parties also questioned why Premier Doug Ford's government was "obsessed" with booze.
A number of gambling-related initiatives were also announced in the new budget, including legalizing online gambling, which is now regulated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission.
Licence plates will also bear a new slogan - "A Place to Grow" - which will replace the current "Yours to Discover".More news: Southampton 3 Wolves 1: Redmond the star for Saints
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath warns the budget is filled with drastic cuts. "It's just shameful that this is a priority of Doug Ford, to have his ego on the back of everybody's auto".
"The reductions will have a significant impact on vulnerable Ontarians who require legal assistance, and have no other means of obtaining it", LSO Treasurer Malcolm Mercer said in the statement.
The Ministry of Environment budget will shrink by more than $275-million. It won't start moving in the right direction for at least three years.
Education spending would increase by an annual average of just 1.2 per cent until 2021-22. Ontario recently announced a host of education changes, including larger high school class sizes, which sparked widespread anger.
"We see the Conservative governments behave the same way no matter where they are elected", said Hajdu.
Both Gravelle and Monteith-Farrell expressed disappointment in the $1-billion cut to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, as well as making up to 60 per cent of funding for colleges and universities contingent upon performance outcomes.
While light on the specifics, which would come in future legislation, the Ford government is planning on reducing red tape and allowing new ways for insurance companies to offer coverage, including a pay as you go option.
The province also hinted that last call could be pushed beyond 2 a.m.More news: Amazon, Walmart trade barbs on taxes, wages
Like the federal government, Ontario has favored faster write-offs of capital investments rather than corporate tax cuts to bolster competitiveness with the United States. They say this move will benefit businesses more.
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce president Charla Robinson pointed to changes to the Ontario immigration nominee program as an exciting piece.
"We have been lagging significantly in terms of productivity measures vis a vis our global competitors - this is an important step", he said.
Still, we won't be surprised to see people slapping pot-leaf stickers over that trillium.
The budget contains no new taxes.
The government makeover will also affect driver's licences and licence plates once the existing stock is used up.
As part of the budget legislation, the government has proposed a new accountability framework called the Fiscal Sustainability Transparency and Accounting Act.More news: The BTS & Halsey Collab Is a Total BOP