Ontario budget promises GTA new schools and hospital beds

Expanded and repaired schools, plus expanded hospitals and highways are coming to the GTA, tucked in between the billions of dollars of pandemic-focused spending in Ontario’s 2021 budget.


Expanded and repaired schools, plus expanded hospitals and highways are coming to the GTA, tucked in between the billions of dollars of pandemic-focused spending in Ontario’s 2021 budget.

Here is a look at the new projects and funding coming to Toronto and beyond, according to the provincial budget released Wednesday:

Nearly $1 billion to keep cities afloat

The province is committing more than $900 million this year to Ontario’s 444 municipalities. Half of that is going to ease cities’ budget pressures as revenues drop and pandemic costs go up.

A $255-million portion is slated to help shelter systems cope with the additional costs of housing people safety during the pandemic. Then another $150 million is going to help keep public transit on the road as ridership revenues continue to be historically low.

All this cash is on top of last year’s $4 billion Safe Restart Agreement. The province is also calling on the federal government to commit more cash to municipalities.

Commitment to public transit

The budget affirms Ontario’s commitment of $61 billion to public transit over the next 10 years.

The document also singles out the Ontario Line, Scarborough subway, Yonge North Subway Extension and Eglinton Crosstown West Extension as priorities – without further outlining project timing or financial commitments.

It also underlines the province’s commitment to upping GO rail service to every 15 minutes on core lines.

Peel hospital to expand

William Osler Health System’s Peel Memorial site in Brampton is slated to get a new in-patient wing.

Per-capita access to healthcare in Brampton is lagging behind the rest of the province and Mayor Patrick Brown has been calling on the province to build an entirely new facility.

The government has set aside $1.5 million for planning the new wing, but details on how many patients it will serve, as well as costing and a construction timeline, have yet to be released.

GTA Highway cash absent

One project not mentioned in the budget is Highway 413. The roadway would run through Vaughan, Brampton and Georgetown, connecting Highways 410 and 407.

Toronto, as well as the Region of Peel, has opposed the project.

Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy said Wednesday there’s no money set aside in the budget because the province is waiting on the results of an environmental assessment and public consultations.

However, the province is committing $2.6 billion this year to expand and repair highways and bridges. In the GTA, the main project is expanding Highway 400 to 10 lanes, for 26 km between Langstaff Rd. and Highway 9.

Most of the expansion would also include high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. Work is already underway and is set to be done in 2026-27.

Repairing and expanding schools

The government is planning to give out $14 billion in capital grants to school boards over the next 10 years to help build 20 new schools  and add eight additions to existing schools.

Three of those schools, that had been previously announced, are coming to the GTA, in North York, Etobicoke and Brampton.

Universities and colleges province-wide are getting $5 billion to help with operating costs. The province is in talks with Ryerson University to add additional healthcare training and the budget also says the province is planning another healthcare school for Brampton.

Money for racially diverse, low-income and newcomer communities

As part of the province’s COVID-19 response, it’s dedicating $50 million to communities that are particularly at-risk.

It has designated 15 priority neighbourhoods in Durham, Toronto and Peel. Those neighbourhoods are getting mobile testing sites and custom community outreach to address historical discrimination.

Funding will go to local community ambassadors to help ensure residents have access to vaccinations and other supports, and to address vaccine hesitancy.

The money will also go to the distribution of PPE kits. Some money will go to funding isolation centres, so people who are sick can recover while keeping loved ones and roommates safe.

The province had previously invested $42 million in such isolation centres.

Urban indigenous vaccine outreach

The province is putting $50 million into ensuring the GTA’s indigenous community, along with other urban indigenous communities and First Nations, has access to vaccinations and relevant information.

Property tax reassessments paused

In 2020, the provincial government postponed this year’s property tax assessments. The budget says they are further postponing them to help give homeowners budget certainty.

Want to get out of the city?

Under the budget, between May 1 and September 2, access to provincial parks is free for the day from Monday to Thursday.

Connect with Breakfast Television
Connect with @breakfasttelevision
live, weekday mornings
Subscribe or follow to watch live weekday mornings on Citytv, YouTube and Facebook. Connect with us on Instagram and Twitter for more news and entertainment