Provincial Budget

Ontario budget

Through pre-budget submissions and post-budget analysis, ONN tracks key issues and advocates for supports for Ontario’s nonprofit sector. Below, you will find our most recent updates, links to previous budgets, and perspectives from across our network.

Ontario budget 2021


The Ontario government has released its 2021 budget, the third budget of this government and the first since the Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy took over at the Ministry of Finance. Planned expenditures will be down from 2020-21, but still up $11 billion compared to 2019-20. Program spending is forecast to decrease over the following three years, but will begin to increase after that by approximately 2.1 per cent per year. There are currently over 305,000 jobs still “missing” from Ontario compared to before COVID hit, and the government acknowledges the economic recovery to date has been “partial” and “uneven.”

As expected, this budget is focused solely on a plan for a return to “normal.” Targeted investments to tackle the pandemic, long-term care, small business, job training, and child benefits show that this government is not swayed from its focus. These investments are intended to soften the blow of COVID-19 on health and the economy, but change at the systems level is limited to technological modernization rather than the social transformations that might address economic and racial inequalities, the climate crisis, and deterioration of public trust. With a significant deficit likely to stay on the books for a decade, there may be a reckoning down the road (either through program cuts or tax increases) but for now, the message is stay the course, fight COVID, help people get back to work, and continue as we were.

The nonprofit sector is not mentioned in the budget as a sector, and there are no sector-wide programs or investments.

There are targeted investments in the arts, culture, and tourism; sports and recreation; Indigenous programs; developmental services; Francophone communities; and faith and (ethno) cultural groups. 

In general terms, Ontario plans to spend $11,583 per capita on programs in 2021-22. Only Nova Scotia and British Columbia are planning to spend so little per person this year. With its low taxes, Ontario continues to be at the bottom of the pack, with the sole exception of Alberta, in terms of revenues relative to GDP (17.1 per cent). All provinces except Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan bring in tax revenues of at least 20 per cent of GDP

Budget speech

The nonprofit sector was not mentioned by name in Minister Bethlenfalvy’s budget speech, but he did recognize the role volunteers played, thanking the “army of volunteers to help make appointments, drive people to vaccination sites or simply encourage a loved one to receive their shots.”

The budget speech focused on defeating COVID-19; the care economy (long-term care, mental health, and domestic violence); capital funding to upgrade schools and roll out broadband; and financial relief to businesses and households, including another round of small business funding and a new job training tax credit for individuals.

Minister Bethlenfalvy also recognized the “she-cession,” and announced the creation of “a task force to advise the government on how to address the unique and disproportionate economic barriers women face.” Let’s hope the government does not spend long admiring the problem and moves quickly to solutions. (ONN has a few ideas on this topic.)

ONN’s pre-budget asks

ONN was pleased to see an expansion of the Small Business Support Grant, which was our first pre-budget recommendation. Budget 2021 includes a second installment of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant so that eligible small businesses and nonprofits will automatically receive a second payment in an amount equal to their first. Unfortunately, the eligibility criteria have not been expanded.

There was no mention of our second pre-budget recommendation, a micro-grant for volunteer-only nonprofits that, by definition, are not employers and therefore not eligible for the Small Business grant. In fact, Ontario’s five million volunteers were notably absent from the budget document, aside from a passing reference to COVID-19 testing in long-term care.

Other budget highlights

Other highlights of new funding for the nonprofit sector:

  • $650 million in 2021-22 for COVID measures in long-term care (a mix of municipal, nonprofit and for-profit)
  • $400 million over the next three years in new initiatives to support tourism, hospitality, and culture sectors
  • $100 million for Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant (including recreational and/or children’s camps)
  • $10 million in new funding for community arts groups and individual artists, through the Ontario Arts Council
  • $200 million for “larger strategic projects” and sports facilities through the Strategic Priorities Infrastructure Fund, as well as $6.6 million for nonprofit sport groups
  • An increase of $50 million for the High Priority Communities Strategy
  • $50 million for faith-based and cultural organizations (expected to mean ethnocultural groups)
  • $361 million in 2021-22 for Developmental Services to continue to support clients currently in service and new high-risk clients
  • $60 million annually for Early Intervention and Special Needs to reduce waitlists
  • New funding to tackle violence against women and human trafficking, including through the Transitional Housing Support Program and dedicated Indigenous programs
  • $4 million in 2021-22 to support First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations for COVID-related measures, and $6 million in Indigenous community capital grants
  • $3 million over three years for the Francophone Community Grant Program, and $1 million COVID relief for Francophone nonprofits
  • $2.8 billion for broadband, critical for community-based nonprofits, especially in northern and rural areas

ONN has reviewed the schedules in Bill 269 and there appear to be no legislative changes proposed other than those that implement the commitments outlined in the budget document.

COVID-19 funding by ministry

The following ministries important to the nonprofit sector were allocated COVID-19 Time-Limited Funding- above and beyond base funding- in 2020-21 and 2021-22. We have broken this down by ministry in the table below. COVID funding is more limited in the new fiscal year than in 2020-2021, except in three areas: tourism, arts and culture; employment and training; and Francophone programs.

COVID-19 Funding by Ministry 

Ministry COVID-19 Funding (Interim actual) 2020-21 $M COVID-19 Funding (Plan) 2021-22 $M
Attorney General 32 0
Children, Community and Social Services 88 69.1
Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade 3508 293.7
Education (includes child care) 1573 59.3
Environment, Conservation and Parks 15 2.3
Francophone Affairs 1 2.3
Health 8410 5144.1
Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries 66 205.4
Indigenous Affairs 14 4
Labour, Training and Skills Development (includes Employment Ontario) 65 288
Long-Term Care (received COVID support through Health) 0 0
Municipal Affairs and Housing 797 286.3
Municipal Affairs and Housing – Safe Restart Agreement (federal and provincial dollars)  1900 0
Seniors and Accessibility 26 6

Source: Table 3.12

There is a line showing the “COVID-19 Response: Support for People and Jobs Fund” at 0 for 2020-21 and 2021-22, indicating that all COVID reserves to date have been allocated to specific budget lines, alleviating concern many had at the end of the third quarter about under-spending. However, the Treasury Board Secretariat will keep a $1.9 billion Operating Contingency Fund for 2021-22 in addition to the official reserve fund of $1 billion.

Base Funding by Ministry

Ministry Actual                    2019-20


Interim Actual*        2020-21


Plan                2021-22


Difference: 2020-21 interim actuals vs 2021-22 budget


Attorney General 1,734 1,645 1,675 +1.8%
Children, Community and Social Services 17,070 17,736 17,841.5 +0.8%
Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade 315 358 377.5 +5.4%
Education (includes child care) 30,177 30,561 31,263 +2.3%
Environment, Conservation and Parks 614 643 686.6 +6.8%
Francophone Affairs 5 6 6.5 +8.3%
Health** 59,286 52,749 58,872.6 +11.6%
Heritage, Sport Tourism and Culture Industries 907 889 1,016.2 +14.3%
Indigenous Affairs*** 71 83 85.5 +3.0%
Labour, Training and Skills Development (Base) 121 154 175.1 +13.7%
Labour, Training and Skills Development                         (Demand-Driven E&T programs) 922 1,473 1,169.3 -20.6%
Long-Term Care Total****                                                      (base funding not provided separately) 4,423 5,582 5,764 +3.3%
Municipal Affairs and Housing 540 483 512.3 +6.1%
Seniors and Accessibility 52 56 66.5 +18.8%

*“Interim actual” figures are a preliminary estimate of what will have been spent by the end of the fiscal year (2020-21). These are the government’s best sense right now of what will have been spent by year-end, but are subject to adjustments at year-end.

**Figures for Health are calculated, not provided. Table 3.12 did not provide a base funding line for Health without COVID-19 Health Response spending.

***This does not include one-time investments or land claim settlements (the latter cost $165 million in 2020-21; $0 budgeted for 2021-22).

****Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care total includes expenses incurred by Ontario Health for funding for long-term care. These amounts will be consolidated in the total expense of the Ontario Ministry of Health, including $4.2 billion in 2020‑21 and $5.6 billion in 2021–22.

What’s next for ONN advocacy

Amplify the voices of the sector by continuing to gather budget impacts that other nonprofits and charities have identified so far, as we do further analysis to draw a bigger picture of the budget’s impact.

Convene and support regional nonprofit networks, provincial associations and umbrella groups to share information and take collective action.

Continue to advocate to the Ontario government to ensure the nonprofit sector has a seat at tables making decisions about the COVID recovery.

Continue to communicate with governmental and non-governmental funders about the continued impact of the pandemic (including the disruption of fundraising events, performances, and volunteering activities, as well as a drop in donations and earned income) on the sector.

Survey nonprofits about their experience after one year of COVID-19 and will continue to share powerful stories about the ways nonprofits are making Ontarians’ lives better, through the pandemic and beyond.

What your nonprofit can do next

  • Tell us what this budget means to your organization/sub-sector so we can gather insight for further analysis to draw a bigger picture of the budget’s impact
  • Encourage the government to include the nonprofit sector and communities that have been hardest-hit by COVID in consultations on plans for the recovery
  • Share information and mobilize. A general election is only a year away! Talk to your provincial associations, umbrella groups, subsector organizations, and local nonprofit networks about shared issues
  • Reach out to your MPP, your ministry, and other government contacts to find out more details about the budget and continue building relationships
  • Communicate the impacts of the budget on your communities, clients, and networks
  • Join ONN’s virtual Budget Town Hall on April 8; registration is open!

The budget and ONN’s policy priorities

Our people

  • The budget indicates that changes are coming to the Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund (PBGF), which mitigates the risk of single-employer pension plans failing. Regulation 909 will be amended to require pension plan administrators to calculate and report their plan’s PBGF claim exposure
  • No progress on getting the profit motive out of care work
  • Pandemic pay set to end in June- for those essential workers that qualified to receive it
  • No mention of paid sick days or any enhancements to employment standards
  • No measures supporting volunteering
  • While there are investments in expanding the care economy through capital infrastructure and recruitment initiatives, there is less emphasis on supporting decent work for care workers which is key in retaining staff in nonprofit spaces. There is certainly no movement toward getting the profit motive out of long-term care or other parts of the care economy

Our finances

  • A second round of Small Business grants, for which some nonprofits with 1-99 staff are eligible. This grant program goes partway toward meeting the need for a nonprofit sector stabilization fund, though eligibility has been restrictive and communication to the nonprofit sector almost nonexistent. The good news is that this is general operating support and there is no application needed for the second round
  • Property tax and energy rebates for enterprises significantly affected by shutdowns

Our regulatory environment

  • On open data, the budget document notes that 800 datasets have been made available, including those in relation to the pandemic
  • The budget announces $2.2 million to initiate the development of the Single Window for Business, a transformational digital solution designed to use emerging technology, data, and responsive design to improve business experience with government services. There is no comparable announcement for nonprofits

General COVID-19 relief measures

  • Continued rollout of $1 billion vaccination plan that started in 2020–21, including $50 million to support vaccinations in First Nations and urban Indigenous communities
  • Building on the $12.5 million High Priority Communities Strategy announced in December, there is an additional $50 million for community partners to help tackle COVID in disproportionately affected communities, including newcomer, racialized, and low-income communities, in Durham, Peel, Toronto, York Region, and Ottawa
  • $2.3 billion in 2021-22 for a comprehensive testing strategy. Nonprofit congregate care settings may be onboarded, if interested, to deploy rapid testing
  • $3.7 million to help older adults and people with disabilities overcome transportation barriers to receiving the vaccine
  • $100 million for Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant which will provide one‐time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses and nonprofits, including recreational and/or children’s camps.Those who received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant cannot receive this grant

Overall revenue and spending measures: room to grow

  • The Ontario government projects that revenue from personal income tax will continue to draw in approximately 2.5 times as much as corporate income tax. They are not anticipating any future tax increases.
    Ontario plans to spend $11,583 per capita on programs in 2021-22. Only Nova Scotia and BC are planning to spend so little per person this year
  • With its low taxes, Ontario continues to be at the bottom of the pack, with the sole exception of Alberta, in terms of revenues relative to GDP (17.1 per cent). All provinces except Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan bring in tax revenues of at least 20 per cent of GDP
  • With a large deficit, the Ontario government will have to consider new tax revenues in the near future to prevent a deterioration in the quality of life for Ontarians. Despite the Budget’s assertions to the contrary, it will be unlikely that we can modernize and transform our way out of a low-tax, low-spending approach without continuing existing inequalities

Bill 269, Protecting the People of Ontario Act (Budget Measures)

Bill 269 is a relatively slim budget implementation bill at only 10 schedules. Highlights that may affect Ontario nonprofits include the following:

  • Schedules 1 and 2 modify credit union legislation with respect to the Deposit Insurance Reserve Fund
  • Schedule 6 creates a new Crown Corporation, Invest Ontario, and Schedule 7 mandates a new section in the annual report of the Ministry of Economic Development called “The Ontario Investment Prospectus.” Invest Ontario may be important for economic development and employment training nonprofits
  • Schedule 10 enacts the changes to the Taxation Act with respect to the child care and job training tax credits

Subsector impacts

  • Modest funding from the Ontario Together Fund is supporting the production of 1.4 million “Access Masks,” face masks designed by nonprofit Como Foundation and featuring a lip‐reading lens
  • Transportation accessibility measures for people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
  • $1.6 million over two years to support the Anti‐Racism and Anti‐Hate Grant program

More analysis:

Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change (COP-COC)

  • $400 million over the next three years in new initiatives to support tourism, hospitality and culture sectors
  • $10 million new funding for community arts groups and individual artists, through the Ontario Arts Council
  • Ontario Trillium Foundation – Community Building Fund: In our November 2020 Ontario budget analysis, we noted a new $100 million investment over two years in the Community Building Fund for community tourism, cultural and sport organizations. The $25 million that was intended to provide relief in 2020-21 did not flow in 2020-21 and so is part of the $105 million announcement this month that will flow in 2021-22. Applications open March 31

ONN is pleased to see Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) granting infrastructure being used by the government to get funds to communities – especially for general operating support. However, we want to ensure that their broad mandate to support the whole sector is not compromised. OTF provides a vital source of funding that addresses the diversity of Ontario’s nonprofit sector.

  • Proposing a 20 per cent top-up of the Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit for 2021. This would mean that families with income up to $25,000 can expense a maximum of 90 per cent of their child care expenses This credit is flexible with respect to the types of care eligible, including unlicensed home-based, centre-based, and care in camp settings.
  • Reannouncement of 30,000 new spaces over five years. Of these, 20,000 have already been approved; the remaining 10,000 new spaces could be in new schools or be provided by for-profit or nonprofit organisations.
  • The status of the provincial Early Childhood Educators’ wage enhancement grant is unknown

More analysis:

Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario

Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care

  • The brief section on the environment is focused on electric vehicles and using green bonds to invest in transportation initiatives (72 per cent of funds), energy efficiency and conservation (25 per cent), and climate adaptation and resilience (3 per cent)
    There is a reannouncement of measures to expand the Greenbelt. There is no mention of the proposed Highway 413 in the infrastructure section
  • The budget document highlighted the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on youth, women, and part-time workers (see Chart 2.5)
  • There is $614.3 million over 2 years (2020-21 and 2021-22) for targeted employment & training supports. These are one-time COVID-related federal dollars announced in December
  • The government will launch Ontario’s Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee

More analysis:

First Policy Response

  • $50 million in grants available to support faith‐based and cultural organizations that are struggling due to the additional costs caused by COVID‐19. To be eligible, organizations must operate facilities used for regular community gatherings and must not be eligible for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. Note: there is no definition of “cultural organization” but given the context, we anticipate that eligibility will focus on ethno-cultural community spaces
  • $3 million over 3 years for Francophone Community Grant Program to better meet the increased need and demand for support from community organizations, including social enterprise and small businesses, serving Ontario’s Francophone community across all regions of the province
  • $1 million to support Francophone nonprofits
  • While there are investments in expanding the care economy through capital infrastructure and recruitment initiatives, there is less emphasis on supporting decent work for care workers which is key in retaining staff in nonprofit spaces. There is certainly no movement toward getting the profit motive out of long-term care or other parts of the care economy
  • $650 million in 2021-22 to continue to protect long‐term care homes
  • Up to $246 million available over the next four years to prioritize long-term care sector upgrades and an additional $933 million over four years for new LTC beds
  • Non-hospital health infrastructure spending will be $304 million in 2021-22, up from $283 million in 2020-21 (interim)
  • $500 million in 2021-22 (up to $4.9 billion over four years) to increase the average direct daily care to four hours a day in long‐term care and hiring more than 27,000 new positions, including personal support workers (PSWs), nurses and allied health professionals
  • Extending wage enhancement (pandemic pay) for PSWs through June 30, 2021
  • $121 million to support the accelerated training of almost 9,000 PSWs
  • Re-announcement of $175 million in 2021–22 for more mental health and addictions support services to deliver on the Roadmap to Wellness
  • New children’s treatment centres in Ottawa and Chatham‐Kent
  • Four new mobile mental health clinics will start operating across rural Ontario this summer. They will provide a range of mental health and addictions services
  • $8.4 million over three years for a crisis call diversion program embedded in Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) communications centres to offer immediate support for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis
  • There are no new investments in nonprofit home and community care
  • Base Health sector expense is projected to increase from $63.7 billion in 2019–20 to $72.0 billion in 2023–24.

More analysis:

Ontario Community Support Association

Ontario Nurses Association

The Neighbourhood Group

The Alzheimer Society of Ontario


  • $18.5 million over three years, beginning in 2021–22, in the Transitional Housing Support Program, to support victims of domestic violence and survivors of human trafficking to find and maintain affordable housing and help them transition to independence
  • According to OMSSA, “support for people experiencing homelessness will continue to be provided. $255 million in new funding for the Social Services Relief Fund has been allocated to respond to rising COVID‑19 cases in shelter settings to service managers. This builds on the $510 million already provided through the Social Services Relief Fund, as well as other investments in the Transitional Housing Support Program and the Adult Protective Service Worker program”
  • There are no new commitments to support the nonprofit and cooperative housing sectors or for supportive housing

More analysis:

Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario

Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association

  • $18.2 million over three years to help address violence against First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls
  • $6 million annually for Indigenous community capital grants
  • There are no commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and no funding allocated for land claim settlements
  • $4 million in 2021-22 to support First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations for contact tracing, self‐isolation and resources to combat food insecurity and housing shortages
  • $361 million in 2021-22 for Developmental Services to continue to support clients currently in service and new high‐risk clients
  • $60 million annually, beginning in 2021-22, for Early Intervention and Special Needs to significantly reduce waitlists by increasing access to existing clinical assessment and rehabilitation programs
  • Infrastructure spending in the “social” category rises to $328 million in 2021-22, up from $267 million in 2020-21, but then drops to $152 million in 2022-23
  • $2.1 million over three years (new funding) to support domestic violence survivors and survivors of human trafficking and other violent crimes
  • No income security measures affecting Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
  • Base Children’s and Social Services sector expense is projected to increase from $17.1 billion in 2019–20 to $18.1 billion in 2023–24

More analysis:

Ontario Municipal Social Services Association

YWCA Toronto


Abilities Centre

Community Living Toronto


  • See “Arts” section above for news on the OTF Community Building Fund
  • Just before the budget, the Ontario government announced $15.3 million to support sports and recreation, of which $6.6 million is for nonprofits: $3 million in 2020-21 for SPORT4ONTARIO and $3.6 million for 63 recognized Provincial Sport Organizations
  • $200 million for “larger strategic projects” and sports facilities through the Strategic Priorities Infrastructure Fund
  • Ontario Parks will be free for day use from May 1 to September 2 this year

More analysis:


ONN’s 2021 pre-budget submission

The nonprofit sector plays an essential role in job creation, volunteer engagement, and programs and services that support the well-being of Ontarians. However, nonprofits have been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis: struggling to maintain their operations and their ability to generate revenue for programs and services, and often being on the frontlines to support Ontarians hard hit by the pandemic’s economic and social devastation in communities.As employers, nonprofits are also grappling with the uncertainty, stress, and burnout it has caused among staff and volunteers. When we surveyed 1,100 nonprofits last June, one in five nonprofits was expected to close by the end of the year. We have already witnessed many COVID-related closures and the lack of direct support from government will mean the closure of many more in the coming months. These closures translate into lost jobs and less activity for local economies, and will leave major gaps in the programs and supports intended to help Ontarians rebound from a pandemic almost a year long already.The Ontario government’s Small Business Support Grant is an important downpayment to provide funding to stabilize the nonprofit sector. While this will be a lifeline for nonprofits that meet the eligibility criteria, many nonprofits will not qualify.ONN’s recommendation: Provide stabilization funding for nonprofits to withstand the significant disruptions to their revenue and operations so they can continue to serve Ontarians and local economies in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

  • Retool the Small Business Support Grant to cover a broader range of small nonprofit employers, including:
    • Extend eligibility to nonprofits and charities that were required by public health regulations to close or significantly modify services prior to the December 26 province-wide shutdown, if they meet the revenue-loss threshold
    • Extend eligibility to those that remained open as “essential services” (approximately one-third of the sector), if they meet the revenue-loss threshold
    • Increase the $20,000 maximum grant to $50,000 for nonprofits that suffered $100,000 or more in revenue declines
  • Introduce $1,000 to $10,000 micro-grants for volunteer-only nonprofits (with no paid staff) to mitigate the impact of their reduced volunteer and fundraising capacity, and help them adapt through new processes, and technology

Read ONN’s full pre-budget submission