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Daiene's Diary - May Op-Ed

The 2017 Ontario Budget lays a path for a stronger, healthier Ontario.  It’s written with families in mind, with significant investments in health care and education to improve the services people rely on most.

So, what’s in it for you?

Most significant among these investments is the new OHIP+:  Children and Youth Pharmacare program.  This makes Ontario the first province in Canada to offer free drug coverage for more than 4,400 children and youth aged 24 and under.

As part of the $11.5 billion more dollars invested in our healthcare system over three years, we will see reduced wait times and a minimum 2% increase to base operating budgets of all public hospitals. This increase in funding is good news for Grand River Hospital and St Mary’s General Hospital.

This budget also contains great news for students across the province with free tuition for 210,000 Ontario students in low income families, easing of rules for student debt repayment, and the career kick-start program.  The program will create 40,000 work related learning opportunities for students.  An excellent example of the career kick-start program is happening at the University of Waterloo, where co-op students are working with IBM to improve cybersecurity.

We’re seeing significant support for our tech sector, with over $75 million over the next 5 years invested in advanced research computing and big data strategy – investments that will help support new hardware at the University of Waterloo.  The province is also investing $20 million over five years to partner with Waterloo’s Quantum Valley to create Quantum Valley Ideas Lab.  This will help develop cutting-edge research, train highly qualified personnel, and support academics in quantum science.

Our province is continuing to invest in transit and transportation across Ontario.  Through Regional Express Rail (RER), infrastructure works continue along the Kitchener rail corridor in advance of all day, two-way Go Train service.

In Waterloo Region, Ontario’s investment of $300 million in the ION light rail transit system will help to transform our community.  Construction is nearly complete and we await the delivery of rail cars for a full compliment of 14 fleet vehicles.

And, the province is advancing a comprehensive environmental assessment, design, and planning work to bring in high-speed service.  This will enable rail users to travel from Windsor, through Kitchener, to Toronto at much faster speeds.

We will see $26 billion invested in highways, with the replacement of bridges across the Grand River on Highway 401, the construction of Highway 7 from Kitchener to Guelph, and the Holland Mills Road Bridge rehabilitation in Wilmot.

Ontario is helping your family by making childcare more affordable, and this year Ontario will support 24,000 more children through new subsidy spaces.  We’re also ensuring clean water for all, and expect to see $3 million for upgrading the Hespeler Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The investments Ontario is making are a real commitment to making lives easier for Ontario families, while balancing our budget.  We are on the path to a stronger, healthier Ontario. 

Keep in Mind...

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