NEWS
 
Liberals try do-over with budget that triggered election
Budget will be presented on Monday
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The governing Liberals are presenting their do-over budget Monday, a big-spending plan that triggered the June 12 election after the opposition parties rejected it.

Although a debt-rating agency has signalled concerns about the government's ability to balance the books, the re-elected Liberals say they're not changing a thing and won't even bother to put a new cover on the 368-page book.

Moody's changed its outlook on the province's debt rating after the Liberals returned with a majority government, but the Liberals say the rating agencies are pleased with the election results.

The highlights of the $119.4-billion fiscal plan remain the same: $130 billion for infrastructure over a decade _ including $29 billion for public transit and transportation projects _ a made-in-Ontario pension plan, $2.5 billion over 10 years in corporate grants to lure businesses to the province and $1 billion to build a transportation route to the Ring of Fire mineral deposit in the north.

But there were a slew of details fleshed out during the election campaign that didn't get much attention.

Over the next six years, the Liberals are planning to expand the outer boundary of the Greenbelt _ about 800,000 hectares of protected land that largely encompasses an area from Peterborough around the western end of Lake Ontario to Niagara Falls _ a move
some say will hurt farmers.

The Liberals also plan to regulate crowdfunding, create five new business start-up hubs and provide interest-free loans to expand access of rural communities to natural gas supplies in an effort to quell concerns about higher hydro costs.

Another pledge was changing the building code to allow six-storey wood-frame buildings.

It's about 10 per cent less expensive than concrete or steel, so the move will make mid-rise buildings more affordable and spur more housing development to densify city cores, said the Ontario Home Builders' Association.

 On the health side, the Liberals are pledging to fund 20 more hospices, cap or cut hospital parking fees for frequent visitors and patients and provide more ``culturally appropriate care'' in hospitals, such as different food and better translation services.

They're also focusing on schools, providing more resources to help high-school students plan their path to a desired career, including revamping the curriculum for the mandatory Grade 10 careers class and giving Grade 7 to 12 students access to their own
online career planning tool.

They're putting in $150 million over three years to provide new technology learning tools, like digital tablets, netbooks, cameras and software for classrooms, and spending $10 million on a nine-month paid community work and service program for graduating
high-school students.

They also plan to revamp the Grade 10 Civics curriculum to get students more involved in their communities and introduce voter registration in high schools.

But the Progressive Conservatives say the budget is just a ``hodgepodge'' of new programs and spending that Ontario can't afford.

The New Democrats plan to vote against the budget, which some see as tailor-made for the party, even though it's virtually certain to pass.
    

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40 1

The governing Liberals are presenting their do-over budget Monday, a big-spending plan that triggered the June 12 election after the opposition parties rejected it.

Although a debt-rating agency has signalled concerns about the government's ability to balance the books, the re-elected Liberals say they're not changing a thing and won't even bother to put a new cover on the 368-page book.

Moody's changed its outlook on the province's debt rating after the Liberals returned with a majority government, but the Liberals say the rating agencies are pleased with the election results.

The highlights of the $119.4-billion fiscal plan remain the same: $130 billion for infrastructure over a decade _ including $29 billion for public transit and transportation projects _ a made-in-Ontario pension plan, $2.5 billion over 10 years in corporate grants to lure businesses to the province and $1 billion to build a transportation route to the Ring of Fire mineral deposit in the north.

But there were a slew of details fleshed out during the election campaign that didn't get much attention.

Over the next six years, the Liberals are planning to expand the outer boundary of the Greenbelt _ about 800,000 hectares of protected land that largely encompasses an area from Peterborough around the western end of Lake Ontario to Niagara Falls _ a move
some say will hurt farmers.

The Liberals also plan to regulate crowdfunding, create five new business start-up hubs and provide interest-free loans to expand access of rural communities to natural gas supplies in an effort to quell concerns about higher hydro costs.

Another pledge was changing the building code to allow six-storey wood-frame buildings.

It's about 10 per cent less expensive than concrete or steel, so the move will make mid-rise buildings more affordable and spur more housing development to densify city cores, said the Ontario Home Builders' Association.

 On the health side, the Liberals are pledging to fund 20 more hospices, cap or cut hospital parking fees for frequent visitors and patients and provide more ``culturally appropriate care'' in hospitals, such as different food and better translation services.

They're also focusing on schools, providing more resources to help high-school students plan their path to a desired career, including revamping the curriculum for the mandatory Grade 10 careers class and giving Grade 7 to 12 students access to their own
online career planning tool.

They're putting in $150 million over three years to provide new technology learning tools, like digital tablets, netbooks, cameras and software for classrooms, and spending $10 million on a nine-month paid community work and service program for graduating
high-school students.

They also plan to revamp the Grade 10 Civics curriculum to get students more involved in their communities and introduce voter registration in high schools.

But the Progressive Conservatives say the budget is just a ``hodgepodge'' of new programs and spending that Ontario can't afford.

The New Democrats plan to vote against the budget, which some see as tailor-made for the party, even though it's virtually certain to pass.
    

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