Confirmed Ontario COVID-19 cases jump by 170; total now at 858

Confirmed Ontario COVID-19 cases jump by 170; total now at 858

The Ontario government tabled an interim economic update that pledges $10-billion in tax deferrals mostly for businesses and $7-billion in new spending on health care and payments to seniors and parents as the province battles COVID-19.

A dedicated $1 billion Covid-19 contingency fund and $3.3 billion in additional healthcare resources to protect people's health is also included.

Canada's most populous province and economic engine forecast a deficit of C$20.5 billion in the fiscal year beginning on April 1, including a C$2.5 billion reserve, an economic update from the Progressive Conservative government showed.

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips had been expected to release a full budget Wednesday, but made a decision to instead release an economic and fiscal update in light of the rapidly changing financial picture.

The document is described as a one-year economic outlook and there's a promise to release a full budget by November 15.

"The closed schools and quiet streets will be remembered".

Proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months.

"Long after we defeat COVID-19, the Ontario spirit, at home in Ajax and across Ontario, will remain".

Providing six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for students, leaving more money in people's pockets.

The province will also provide $5.6 billion in electricity cost relief and will cut taxes for 57,000 employers, worth $355 million, through a temporary increase to the employer health tax exemption.

Health-care details include $935 million for Ontario's hospitals, including $594 million set aside to deal with capacity issues, faced with a global pandemic.

Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath was quick to criticize what she said the budget didn't contain - help for people. That's been ongoing for nearly two weeks...

Providing additional supports of $26 million to Indigenous peoples and 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. Phillips has also committed to releasing a full multi-year budget by November 15, 2020.

In a stark assessment of the province's finances, Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips released an economic update on Wednesday in the place of a full-blown budget his government abandoned as the new coronavirus ravaged the world's economies.

A group representing Ontario's municipalities is asking the province to commit enough cash to keep cities from going into debt amid concerns that COVID-19 will throw them into a fiscal hole so deep they can't climb out. Instead, a case will be marked resolved if the infected person feels fine after a two-week isolation period.

"This is an unprecedented time and we are responding with an unprecedented plan".

Net debt to gross domestic product is estimated to be 41.7%, up from 40.1% previously expected.

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