The coronavirus pandemic is expected to more than double Ontario’s deficit by next year.

According to Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips, the province’s deficit is projected to balloon to $20.5 billion over the period of 2020-2021 from its current standing at $9 billion. 

Phillips tabled Ontario’s one-year fiscal outlook at the legislature on Wednesday and announced a $17 billion dollar plan to combat the virus. 

“The government’s action plan is a first step in its response to COVID-19 and includes $7 billion in additional resources for the healthcare system and direct support for people and jobs,” said a Ministry of Finance press release.

“It also will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets.”

The new measures include $3.3 billion in healthcare resources, including acute care facilities and hospital beds. Of that sum, $160 million will be going towards monitoring the spread of the virus and introducing at-home testing. 

New healthcare spending also includes $75 million to be put towards personal protective equipment and medical supplies. 

“COVID-19 is an extraordinary threat to the health and economy of Ontario — the greatest we’ve faced in my lifetime — and it demands an extraordinary response from all levels of government and civil society because we’re all in this together,” said Phillips. 

Measures intending on helping employers and people who are out of work were also proposed by Phillips. 

Families will be able to receive a one-time payment of $200-$250 per child under 12 to help with costs incurred by the closures of schools and daycare centres. 

Ontario will also be spending $5.6 billion to reduce the cost of hydro bills for Canadians in the province. Phillips also announced a $355 million tax cut expected to help about 57,000 employers as part of the Employer Health Tax exemption. 

For a full list of the province’s economic measures to combat the effects of the coronavirus, visit Ontario’s Action Plan here.  

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