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It will cost more to live in Ontario

The deficit may be down, but the cost of doing it was an increase to the price of almost everything according to Todd Smith, Prince Edward-Hastings MPP following Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario budget Thursday.

For 2015–16, the deficit is forecast to be $5.7 billion, which is $2.8 billion lower than projected in the 2015 budget. The government is projecting a deficit of $4.3 billion in 2016–17.

Low income earners get a break as most college students whose family income is less than $50,000 a year will receive grants large enough to cover their whole tuition. Grants for university students, who pay higher tuition, will not offset the entire amount. There is also a 1.5 per cent hike in social assistance benefits amounting to about $25 per month.

Upper middle class families lose the tax credits that help defray the high cost of sending kids to school and there is no more fully refundable children’s activity tax credit as of next year.

And if you smoke, drink wine, drive or use a senior’s drug plan, you’ll pay more.

“The budget announced new government programs including a Cap-and-Trade program that will mean a household increase of over $400 per year on the cost of gasoline and over $400 per year on the cast of natural gas to heat your home,” said Smith. “Cap and Trade is supposed to help us fight climate change, not the deficit. Not a dime of what you’re going to end up paying in increased gas and heating costs is going to go to help the environment, it’s all going to improving the province’s bottom line.”

Smith says it’s already making money for lawyers and lobbyists because Ontario’s biggest polluters are exempt while Ontario families are paying more than their fair share.

Car owners will no longer have to pay the $30 Drive Clean fee, but filling up on gas will cost 4.3 cents per litre more on gas and 4.7 cents more for diesel.

Smith said the change that would hit the area hardest was the 70 per cent increase in the cost of prescription drugs for millions of Ontario seniors by increasing the deductible for prescriptions under the Ontario Drug Benefit. The annual deductible rises to $170 from $100 and per prescription fees rise to $7.11 from $6.11. Low income seniors continue to pay $2 deductible; more poor seniors will qualify to pay no annual deductible and the $2 co-payment.

“My office in Belleville already fields a lot of calls from seniors who can’t afford their prescriptions. As Ontario’s population ages and we see more retirees, we’re going to see more and more seniors unable to afford their prescriptions because of this budget. The nickel and dime approach to taxation, Smith stated, is only going to make it harder for many Ontarians to make ends meet.”

Wine sold through the LCBO as of June will go up 10 cents on a $7.95 bottle; 15 cents on a $13.95 bottle; 35 cents on a $29.95 bottle. Cigarettes will cost $3 more on a carton immediately and an inflationary increase every year starting in 2017.

The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit – a 15 per cent refundable credit to seniors worth up to $1,500 if they renovate their homes for accessiblity and safety – is also gone in 2017.

Filed Under: Local News

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