A provincial jobs plan to boost Ontario’s economy by creating new jobs and boosting wages could be one of the biggest items on the province’s 2018-19 budget agenda.
The Ontario Government announced Friday that it is launching a five-year, $4.6-billion economic growth plan that would see an extra 3,000 new jobs created and an average annual growth rate of 2.5 per cent, the same as the economy grew last year.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is expected to announce the plan, which was originally unveiled in April, in the coming days.
The province is hoping to increase the amount of money that it pays out to businesses by up to $1 billion over the next five years.
“We’re going to have a lot more jobs coming into Ontario,” said Wynne, adding that the province will spend $4 billion on economic initiatives over the coming five years, including expanding the Ontario Skills Training Program, creating an economic development fund and creating a new infrastructure investment fund.
The new jobs plan would create the following positions: 7,400 full-time positions in retail, food services, health care, and other services, including childcare, child care and the arts; 5,000 full- and part-time jobs in construction, information technology and other industries; and 1,500 full- or part- time jobs in healthcare and social assistance.
A separate $2.5-billion initiative is also expected to be announced.
Ontario has a population of about 5.2 million people.
The plan will provide more than $2 billion in tax breaks to small businesses and increase government subsidies for companies that hire workers from other provinces.
The budget also includes a $200 million plan to hire more workers in the construction sector, and a $1.2-billion plan to improve Ontario’s public transit system.
Wynne has pledged to boost the economy by 20 per cent over the first three years of the plan.
The premier said she wants to create at least 25,000 jobs over the three years, while also increasing government subsidies and hiring.
“I think that’s an important element,” said Jennifer Keesmaat, senior vice-president of economic development and public policy at the Ontario Federation of Labour.
“This is a job creator. “
The Ontario economy is growing,” said Keesmeaat.
“This is a job creator.
There is no question that.
We can’t get that growth rate up to 20 per a cent, but I think we can do better.”
Wynne said the province would increase the size of its economic stimulus fund from $500 million to $2-million.
The government said it is also expanding the infrastructure investment program, which it said would include $1-billion for infrastructure projects.
Ontario is hoping the plan will generate new business for the province.
“When you look at this, it is a major priority,” said Michael Coteau, Ontario’s minister of state for human resources.
“And the way we see it, this is the way to do it.”