Ontario government set to unveil major fiscal update in response to coronavirus outbreak

The Ontario government is set to unveil how it will spend billions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips is scheduled to deliver the province’s economic and fiscal update in the Ontario legislature at around 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

When asked about the focus of the update on Tuesday, Phillips said it will contain a “significant focus on the response” to COVID-19.

“We are concerned about making sure that we are delivering the health care resources,” he told reporters.

“We are concerned about making sure we are supporting the business community as we can.”

Phillips said the province’s initiatives will complement the federal government’s multi-billion-dollar aid package that is being voted on in Parliament.

He said the update is a “first step and an important” signal to residents and that it is aimed at providing clarity on how much funding will be provided to municipalities, school boards and other entities funded by the Ontario government.

The update occurs on the same day that a provincial order on shutting down non-essential workplaces takes effect.

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The government was originally supposed to unveil its 2020-2021 budget on Wednesday, but that was sidelined in order to introduce new spending measures related to COVID-19. Phillips said the full budget will be introduced sometime by November.

Provincial officials have announced several initiatives aimed at helping residents in recent days as the coronavirus pandemic has worsened such as $304 million to support immediate needs, $200 million for social services as well as other regulatory changes such as altering the existing time-of-use hydro rates for 45 days.

During the afternoon setting, there will only be 28 MPPs in the legislature in order to keep in line with physical distancing recommendations provided by health officials.

Global News will have complete coverage of Wednesday’s economic and fiscal update after 4 p.m. ET.

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