Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our EconomyOn March 24, 2021, Ontario Finance Minister and Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy introduced the 2021 Ontario budget: “Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy.” With this budget, Ontario’s provincial government plans to focus energies on their continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget outlines investments that are being made to benefit the health and welfare of Ontario residents and to provide direct support to businesses across the province for the year ahead.
The budget includes near-record spending, and Ontario is not expected to have a balanced budget until at least 2029-2030. Considering how the government has had to adapt, adjust, and bolster individuals, communities, and businesses in the face of COVID-19, this is not a surprise to the GrantMatch team. This document consolidates some of the key programs and announcements from the 2021 Ontario Budget to offer a helpful point of reference as we look ahead to 2022.
The Ontario government is motivated to invest in key business sectors to help stimulate and grow our economy. As Government Funding Specialists, our message continues to be that businesses must think proactively about emerging programming and grant funding. We are here to help businesses navigate these continued uncertain times, to weather the pandemic storm, and to plan for future growth.
Business Incentives:Some of the more generalized business incentives discussed in the budget include:
- Doubling of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant (OSBSG) to $ 3.4 billion. The second-round investment of $ 1.7 billion is expected to benefit 120,000 businesses. Previous business recipients will automatically be eligible to receive an additional grant of $ 10,000 - $ 20,000.
- $400 million over four years to establish the Invest Ontario Fund (IOF) to support businesses in advanced manufacturing, technology, and life sciences. This fund will focus on high-value projects.
- Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit (ROITC) will be doubled from 10% to 20% for projects starting March 2021 and ending January 1, 2023. Doubling the tax rate will double the available tax credit from a maximum of $ 45,000 to a maximum of $ 90,000 for businesses in the Eastern, Northern and Southwestern regions of the province.
- An additional $ 10 million investment in the Digital Main Street program to help more small businesses achieve a digital transformation and serve customers effectively online.
- A one-time $ 10 million grant to distilleries and cideries impacted by lockdown measures.
- Small Distillery Support Program (SDSP) to receive an additional $ 1.2 million in funding.
Tourism, Hospitality, Culture, and Sports:The budget will provide direct support to these hard-hit industries:
- The Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant (OTHSBSG) will provide $ 100 million in one-time payments of $ 10,000 - $ 20,000 to eligible small businesses including hotels, motels, travel agencies, amusement and water parks, hunting and fishing camps, and recreational/vacation camps (i.e., children’s overnight summer camps).
- The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program (OTRP) is a $ 100 million program to help tourism operators, anchor businesses, and attractions recover from the impacts of COVID-19. The program will assist with costs related to restructuring, safe reopening, recalibrated marketing initiatives, and partnership development.
Rural Communities/Municipalities:There were several opportunities announced of interest to rural communities/municipalities. Some of the most significant include:
- $ 2.8 billion in new broadband infrastructure funding to ensure that every region in the province has access to reliable broadband internet services by 2025.
- The Strategic Priorities and Infrastructure Fund (SPIF) will invest $ 200 million in larger, strategic projects and sports facilities and will be delivered through two streams: The Priority Local infrastructure stream will support new build multi-purpose facilities for community, culture, and recreation purposes. The Sports and Community Renewal stream provides funding to support the renovation and rehabilitation of sport and community infrastructure.