2020 Provincial budget information and updates
On November 5, the Minister of Finance tabled its fall 2020 Ontario Budget- a follow up to its COVID-19 Action Plan and Economic and Fiscal Update in March 2020 and the Expenditure Estimates in May (which provides year-over-year comparisons for each program – see ONN’s analysis). The Budget’s focus is on three pillars: protection (urgent COVID-19 response), support (for people and jobs), and recovery (creating the conditions for growth). The total expenditure for this Budget is $187 billion in 2020-2021.
The bulk of the Budget is focused on investments in the health sector, along with tax reductions and utility discounts for small and medium businesses, and modest financial support to families in the form of targeted tax measures.
While the focus of the Ontario Government’s recovery plan remains on GDP growth, it is noted in the Budget that the quality of economic activity matters to our quality of life: “We will need growth that creates jobs, encourages entrepreneurship, empowers innovation and attracts employers from all around the world” (iv).
ONN’s recommendation for insurance liability adopted
Insurance liability for Ontario’s nonprofit sector is slated to receive Royal Assent this month as one part of Bill 218. ONN and many nonprofits, particularly those in the sports and mental health sectors, were happy to see government move on this issue. This recommendation was part of our pre-budget submission, along with three other key actions to support Ontario’s nonprofit sector: a $680 million stabilization fund for the nonprofit sector, a made-in-Ontario social enterprise strategy as a tool of recovery, and a nonprofit advisory table to inform the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee.
Targeted supports to parts of the nonprofit sector
We are pleased to see new financial resources provided to parts of the nonprofit sector- notably the arts, sports, and employment/training sectors.
Investment in broadband internet and cell service
In our second COVID-19 survey report, ONN recommended government make investments to ensure nonprofits located in rural and northern areas of the province have access to broadband. The government is investing $680 million over four years for broadband and cellular infrastructure. [At the same time, the federal government has announced a Rapid Response Stream for the Universal Broadband Fund, making up to $150 million available for projects that will be completed quickly and will provide Canadians service by November 15, 2021.]
No stabilization fund to stem the tide of program cancellations and closures
Only 35 percent of nonprofits (according to our survey) have benefited from federal supports such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy this year, and yet organizations have faced massive fundraising challenges and limited access to other supports. This leaves a large gap in their budgets despite a significant increase in demand. ONN’s COVID-19 sector surveys predicted that one in five nonprofits would be closed by the end of the year. Media coverage has highlighted the plight of Royal Canadian Legions, sport organizations, the performing arts, organizations responding to domestic violence, and more.
The scale of financial support provided to Ontario’s nonprofit sector during this time of crisis will not meet the demand from communities, nor will it leverage the sector’s contribution to Ontario’s economy. The nonprofit sector contributes $50 billion to Ontario’s GDP and employs one million workers and yet is generally not eligible for tax breaks or business development funds provided to other small and medium enterprises. The nonprofit sector is diverse, and as the social fabric of our communities serves the unique needs and opportunities of Ontarians across the province. Based on our analysis of revenue losses, ONN estimated the unmet gap in revenue for Ontario nonprofits to be $680 million in the first three months and we have been advocating alongside the sector for a stabilization fund since April.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario have aligned behind a nonprofit sector stabilization fund.
“COVID-19 has also led to severe challenges and uncertainty for Ontario’s non-profit sector, an integral part of Ontario’s economy that delivers critical services alongside government and the private sector. To prevent their closure and its costly impact on communities across the province, the OCC urges the government to introduce a non-profit sector stabilization fund. Doing so would help lessen the downstream effects of the economic downturn and reduce the need for more costly government interventions in the future.”
Ontario Chamber of Commerce, “2020 Provincial Budget : Policy Update on the 2020 Ontario Budget”
Relief funds still sitting on the table
As recently as September 2020, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario observed that the federal government has provided 97 per cent of support to Ontarians during the COVID crisis and that $6.7 billion (including $3.5 billion in federal transfers) set aside for relief by the Ontario government had not been spent. The fall budget indicates that $2.05 billion remains unspent in the “Support for People and Jobs Fund” and $598 million unspent (net of new projected drawdowns) in the “COVID-19 Health Contingency Fund” as of October 13.
The bottom line: The Ontario Budget doubles down on health spending and support to business while overlooking the state of crisis facing nonprofits that are crucial to supporting the immediate and long-term needs of communities.
While ONN is pleased with the resources provided to targeted parts of the nonprofit sector, the response does not match the magnitude of the challenges we are facing as a province. As many regions go under further pandemic restrictions this week, demand for the supports Ontario nonprofits provide will continue- and likely increase- as Ontarians endure month eight of the pandemic.
If our sector loses 20 percent of its organizations, it will be devastating for Ontarians and will put significant pressure on governments to fill these big gaps.
ONN calls on the Ontario government to use the financial resources already at hand to establish stabilization funding for all nonprofits.
Below we outline Budget 2020’s modest investments in the nonprofit sector and where there is more work to be done (and there is plenty) to support Ontario’s nonprofit sector through the crisis and into recovery.
- $25 million in one-time emergency funding delivered for arts institutions through the Ontario Arts Council
- $25 million in 2020-21 and $75 million next year for a Community Building Fund that supports community tourism, cultural and sport nonprofits (and municipal facilities)
- $5 million for agricultural and horticultural societies
- $4 million in new funding this year for the Black youth action plan
- $1 million for an Inclusive Community Grants Program for accessibility
- A $1 million COVID-19 Relief Fund for Francophone Non-Profit Organizations
In this $187 billion Budget, the most significant new money for Ontario’s nonprofit sector comes in the form of $100 million over two years ($25 million in the current year) to develop a Community Building Fund that supports community tourism, cultural and sport organizations, which are experiencing significant financial pressures due to the pandemic. The funding will be delivered by the Ontario Trillium foundation (OTF) with two streams:
- Supports for local community tourism, heritage and culture not-for-profits, such as community museums, local theatres, fairs and cultural institutions, to help sustain their operations in the short-term and create new attractions, experiences and events.
- A fund for municipalities and not-for-profit sport and recreation organizations to make investment in infrastructure rehabilitation and renovation, in order to meet public health protocol and local community needs
In addition to this, the Budget notes that the Ontario Arts Council and OTF “are providing increased flexibility to grant recipients and applicants to help rebuild and reposition the arts and non-profit sectors.” ONN will continue to liaise with OTF and will share any further information we are provided regarding the new funding and flexibility.
The Budget includes $2 million over two years ($1 million in Year 1) for a new Inclusive Community Grants program to improve accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities. Municipalities and nonprofits can use the funding towards:
- undertaking local needs assessments to determine gaps in existing supports for seniors and people with disabilities
- developing action plans and implementing virtual programs
- retrofitting buildings with ramps and accessible washrooms
- installing self-serve kiosks with software that people with vision or hearing loss can use
Note that the application portal is now open and closes December 21.
- There is a one-time commitment of $25 million in emergency funding for Ontario “arts institutions” (not defined what this term means) to help cover operating losses related to the pandemic
- The province re-announced its support for local festivals and events through a new $9 million program, the Reconnect Festival Event Program
Doubling of spending on the Black Youth Action Plan through an additional $60 million over three years starting with $4 million in 2020-21 to support Black youth in achieving social and economic success.
- A well-received $20 million over four years to partially match private contributions to the Greenlands Conservation Partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance to help conservation partners purchase new privately owned protected areas, and for the restoration and management of those properties
- The Budget also included $5 million for agricultural and horticultural societies’ operating costs (one-time grant supplement)
$100 million in new funding is allocated for Employment Ontario programs for skills training, a redesigned Second Career program, and $59.5 million to acquire “in-demand skills.”
- The Employment Ontario system includes municipal, community college, nonprofit, and for-profit service managers and providers and is currently undergoing a modernization initiative
- $4 billion next year (2021-22) and $2 billion in 2022-23 are allocated for health protection
- $1.4 billion is earmarked to expand COVID-19 testing and increase case and contact management
- The Budget notes the $367 million allocated since the First-Quarter Finances report for wage enhancements (“temporary pandemic pay” – which has since been reinstated for the second wave) for provincially-funded personal support workers and developmental support workers (in hospitals, long-term care, home and community care, and social services). “The temporary wage enhancement will be reviewed on a regular basis and could extend through March 31, 2021,” (p. 46)
- $16 million over two years for the Ontario Community Support Program “to connect people with disabilities, older adults and others with underlying medical conditions who are self-isolating, with meals, medicines and other essentials while they stay at home”
These amounts reflect the Canada-Ontario Safe Restart Agreement signed in September that provides Ontario with $7 billion (including in-kind contributions and the $1.1 billion for Pan-Canadian Sick Leave that will be federally administered)
Since the expenditure estimates were released in May 2020, the Province has added a $14 million fund for settlements (in line with actual spending for 2019-20 but much lower than in previous years).
- The Budget allocates increased funding of $361 million in 2021-22 in Developmental Services (existing clients and new high-risk clients)
- There is $30 million over two years to help service providers in the social services sector continue infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures. This includes supports to group homes, violence against women shelters, children’s aid societies and other congregate care settings
- $2.5 million are provided for a new Victim Support Grant to fund partnerships between police and community to respond to services gaps related to domestic violence
While the wage enhancement (noted above under Health) is available to developmental support workers, those hired through Passport Funding are not eligible.
- Given the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on women and the fact that the nonprofit workforce is approximately 80 per cent women, it is essential to have access to affordable quality childcare. The Ontario Budget re-announced a previous commitment but sector leaders say this falls far short of the urgent need for new spending on child care
- Meanwhile, 132 child care centres across Ontario have closed since March and the sector is having to mobilize against regulatory changes that would reduce standards in the sector
Community health is not mentioned in the Budget (except for an ongoing capital construction project at Carlington Community Health Centre in Ottawa) (p. 54). The Alliance for Healthier Communities expressed concern “at the lack of clarity about specific supports for marginalized people and communities. Isolated seniors, people at risk due to the overdose crisis, Black populations, Indigenous communities, people living on low incomes, and others who’ve borne disproportionate impacts of the pandemic are largely invisible in this budget.”
New measures for community housing were not included, according to the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association
There is an explicit acknowledgement in the budget that funding through the Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF) is not for the nonprofit sector, but for “municipal service managers and Indigenous housing partners” (p. 85). There are no new allocations for the SSRF in the Budget
Nonprofit long-term care providers were pleased to hear the commitment announced on November 2 to increase (over four years) the average daily direct care from a nurse or Personal Support Worker to four hours a day per resident in long-term care. However, the Budget does not allocate funding for this cost.
Government ministries are getting $500 million over four years ($60 million in Year 1) to make government services more reliable, convenient and accessible through the Ontario Onwards Acceleration Fund.
- Projects have yet to be confirmed, but priorities include virtual health care, modernizing the justice system, digital government services, reducing business regulations, and centralized purchasing
- Under centralized procurement, one priority is to “stimulate job creation and economic growth by producing Ontario-made goods” but there is no commitment to procurement from Ontario’s social enterprises
The Ontario government’s Value Creation Task Force, announced in 2019, continues its work on generating non-tax revenues (read: service fees and privatization of public assets). This year, according to the Budget, the government is “exploring opportunities such as leveraging assets owned by MTO or Metrolinx.”
Investment in broadband internet and cell service:
In our second COVID-19 sector survey report, ONN recommended government make investments to ensure nonprofits located in rural and northern areas of the province have access to broadband. The government is investing $680 million over four years for broadband and cellular infrastructure. [At the same time, the federal government has announced a Rapid Response Stream for the Universal Broadband Fund, making up to $150 million available for projects that will be completed quickly and will provide Canadians service by November 15, 2021.]
The Ontario government is providing a considerable number of tax relief measures to support small businesses. We note that few apply to nonprofits. The changes most likely to benefit nonprofits are the municipal tax exemption for Legions (see schedule 3 below) and the continuation of the temporary changes to the Employer Health Tax announced in March (employers with payrolls up to $1 million are exempt).
In our COVID-19 sector survey conducted this summer, 12 per cent of nonprofits indicated they benefited from the Employer Health Tax reduction, 8 per cent benefited from the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board premium deferral, 3 per cent benefited from the property tax deferral, and 13 per cent were not sure. Two-thirds indicated that they did not benefit from any of these tax measures.The best way to support nonprofits is not tax measures but through direct spending measures.
Ontario is also transferring the cost of electricity from medium and large corporations to taxpayers, saving corporations 14 to 16 per cent on their hydro bills, starting January 1, at a cost of $1.3 billion to taxpayers over three years.
Overall, Ontario’s revenues for 2020-21 sit at 17.8 percent of GDP, which is lower than all provinces except Alberta (RBC analysis).
- Modest increases to base funding for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Francophone Affairs; Health; Indigenous Affairs; Long-Term Care; Seniors & Accessibility; Solicitor General
- Significant increases to base funding for:
- Children, Community & Social Services (related to disability services and social assistance)
- Economic Development, Job Creation & Trade (though still not back to where it was in 2018-19)
- Environment, Conservation & Parks (though still not back to where it was in 2018-19)
- Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries)
- Labour, Training & Skills Development (almost back to where it was in 2018-19)
- In year-over-year relative terms, Treasury Board comes out on top, with a 115 percent increase to base funding
- Decreases in base funding for Attorney General; Municipal Affairs & Housing
The Ontario Budget also includes a three-year plan that shows health and education spending rising moderately and other programs flatlining after this year, more or less (p. 183). One-time COVID-related funding is included under “Other Programs” and includes significant federal spending under the Safe Restart Agreement as well as unallocated funding in the “COVID-19 Health Sector Response Fund” and the “Support for People and Jobs Fund.” Not all of this funding will leave government as program spending, however – it will also cover internal operating costs and technology purchases, for example. For instance, the “Ontario Onwards Acceleration Fund” is included in the “Support for People, Jobs and Recovery” and will support government service modernization.
- Planned spending for “Children’s and Social Services” overall in 2020-21 is now $17.9 billion, up $200 million from the mini-budget tabled in March
- Planned spending for the “Justice sector” in 2020-21 is now $4.6 billion, up $100 million from the mini-budget
As noted above, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario observed that the federal government has provided 97 per cent of support to Ontarians during the COVID crisis and that $6.7 billion (including $3.5 billion in federal transfers) set aside for relief had not been spent. The fall budget indicates that $2.05 billion remains unspent in the “Support for People and Jobs Fund” and $598 million unspent (net of new projected drawdowns) in the “COVID-19 Health Contingency Fund” as of October 13 (Table 3.10, p. 187).
Planned program spending overall is $174.6 billion (up $300 million from the March mini-budget), or about $11,846 per capita. By contrast, Alberta is spending $13,558 and Quebec is spending $13,991 per capita in 2020-21 (RBC analysis).
Relative to GDP, program spending in Ontario for 2020-21 is 20.6 per cent, which remains lower than all provinces except Alberta (RBC analysis).
Summary of medium-term expense outlook
- Schedule 3 exempts Canadian Legions from property tax
- Schedule 5 extends the current commercial eviction prohibition
- Schedule 6 amends the governance and operations of conservation authorities
- According to Conservation Ontario, which represents the province’s 36 conservation authorities, the changes could have “significant impact” on their watershed management responsibilities. Shaking up authorities’ planning role could “put more people at threat, rather than protect them from natural hazards,” the association said (Queen’s Park Today). Environmental Defence has also warned the changes will result in more flooding
- Schedule 7 presents a brand new act for the credit union and caisse populaire sector, which has been well received by credit unions
- Schedule 8 amends the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994, and creates exemptions under the Endangered Species Act, 2007
- Schedule 21 enacts the Innovation Centre Governance Act, which changes the governance structure of Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), an agency that provides economic development programming across Ontario (including, to a limited degree, to nonprofit social enterprises)
- Last year, OCE saw its base funding cut from $31 million to $13.9 million (Betakit)
- Schedule 23 enacts the Interim Appropriation for 2021-2022 Act, 2020, which empowers the Ontario government to spend $158 billion in operating and $5 billion in capital expenses in the next fiscal year
- The Interim Appropriations provide an early look at what the Ontario government thinks it will spend in the fiscal year that starts April 2021. In fall 2019, for comparison, the government expected to spend $140 billion in operating and $4.6 billion in capital in the current fiscal year
- Schedule 25 amends the Limitations Act, 2002, with respect to the Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, 2010
- This does not affect ONCA proclamation; it simply updates rules concerning court action timelines under the act
- Schedule 37 amends the Pension Benefits Act with respect to target benefit plans, key definitions, and for the Pension Plan of Canadian Press Enterprises (which has been transferred into CAAT DBplus)
- The Ontario government is introducing amendments to the Financial Administration Act that “would allow for certain pension plans to be managed in a manner that is more affordable for the government,” (p. 146)
- Schedule 38 amends the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019, also known as Bill 124 wage restraint legislation, including new penalties for non-compliance such as withholding funding under a transfer payment agreement
- The Ontario government has kept public sector wage increases (including nonprofits that deliver services on behalf of government) to half the average in the private sector thanks to Bill 124 (p. 145)
- Schedule 40 makes major changes to the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006, including regarding conservation and revenue-generating activities.
- Addictions and mental health organizations – joint statement
- Alliance for Healthier Communities
- Association of Municipalities of Ontario
- Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Ontario
- Children’s Mental Health Ontario
- Clean Air Alliance
- Community Living Ontario
- Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario statement
- Environmental Defence
- Ontario Association of Art Galleries
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce
- Ontario Land Trust Alliance
- Ontario Municipal Social Services Association
- YWCA Toronto
Now more than ever, nonprofit organizations are a central part of the ecosystem that supports communities not only to survive during times of crisis, but also to thrive. Since the March 13 shutdown, ONN has been advocating and engaging with the Government of Ontario to ensure that crucial supports and financial investments are made to support nonprofits across the province during the pandemic. Every day, we hear about staff layoffs, financial losses, closures, and insurance issues from across the sector. It is time for the Ontario government to respond to the crisis in the sector – or risk nonprofits not being there for people when they need them. In our fall 2020 pre-budget submission, we outline four main recommendations:
Our initial ask of a $680 stabilization fund was to cover the first three months of the crisis; therefore a contribution in this range from the provincial government is warranted to meet demand at an appropriate scale. We recommend the government create the stabilization fund and make a first installment of at least a quarter of the fund available to nonprofits and charities in this fall’s budget. This would be a signal of good faith to ensure that Ontario’s nonprofit and charitable sector, especially the parts of the sector hardest hit, can continue to serve Ontarians and remain an economic engine of the province in the immediate term.
We are requesting the Ontario government provide “Good Samaritan” liability protection to nonprofits that have acted in good faith as they reopen and follow public health guidelines. In the absence of any action on insurance to support Ontario’s nonprofits and charities, it leaves nonprofits at risk and is a major setback for their ability to support their communities during and beyond the pandemic.
Update: In October, the Ontario government introduced legislation to provide liability protection for nonprofits and charities that make an honest effort to follow public health guidelines and laws relating to exposure to COVID-19. Read more.
As a tool of recovery, investment in a nonprofit social enterprise strategy could be an avenue for employment expansion and generate support for regional and/or local economic development.
Organizations like the Rural Ontario Institute have found that social enterprises play a significant role in addressing challenges such as isolation and “brain drain” in rural Ontario. A new social
enterprise strategy would be a way to boost forward-looking employment that can not only increase labour market prospects, but also sustain the growth of provincial economic activity.
Now more than ever, nonprofit organizations are a central part of the ecosystem that supports communities not only to survive during times of crisis, but also to thrive. The creation of a nonprofit advisory table would leverage the expertise and guidance from leaders across the sector and help to better inform the government of what is needed to support nonprofits to fulfill their missions. There is an opportunity to redefine nonprofits’ relationships with the Ontario government as we consider what recovery will look like. As the voice of 58,000 nonprofits and charities across the province, ONN would be pleased to facilitate the process of establishing, participating in, and supporting such a table.
ONN Analysis: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan & Economic Update
March 27, 2020
The Ontario Minister of Finance has released an Economic & Fiscal Update and a COVID-19 Action Plan in lieu of the scheduled 2020 Budget. The COVID-19 Action Plan consists of $17 billion in funding to respond to the pandemic, including:
- $3.3 billion for health care
- $3.7 billion in economic measures, of which $1.5 billion is for lower electricity costs
- $10 billion for businesses, of which $6 billion is corporate tax deferrals
- $200 one-time payment to parents of children under age 12, per child ($250 if special needs)
In the fiscal year starting April 1, the Ontario government now plans to spend $174.3 billion on programs and take in $156.3 billion- $400 million less than in 2019-2020. The “mini-budget” includes a large $2.5-billion reserve fund.
The Economic Update is modest in view of the COVID health and economic crisis facing Ontario. It leaves most of the work of short-term economic stimulus to the federal government, while taking limited steps to put into place critical supports that will be needed in the post-COVID period of recovery. Details on new program spending are somewhat limited. The main focus for the government is to sustain economic activity, while ensuring that health and social services are supported on the frontlines of the crisis.
The implementation bill (Bill 188) was rushed through the Legislature (with 24 MPPs sitting to ensure physical distancing) with all-party support, though Opposition parties expressed concerns with the bill. It was granted Royal Assent on the same day.
The Ontario government will release a long-range assessment of the fiscal environment by June 7, 2020. The Ontario Budget will be tabled by November 15.
What is not in the plan?
- An emergency stabilization fund for the nonprofit sector, which employs a million people and contributes $50 billion to Ontario’s economy
- Wage subsidies/payroll tax credits or forgivable and/or low-interest emergency loans for nonprofits and other small enterprises to keep employees on the payroll
- Emergency payments to workers or tenants affected by the pandemic, other than parents. (The governments of Alberta, Quebec, and British Columbia have included direct payments in their response and BC has put a moratorium on rent increases)
- Reassurance that front-line social services can access personal protective equipment (PPE) on par with health care and justice system workplaces
Provisions for statutory paid sick days.
- Gender budgeting provisions that could have highlighted the differential impact of the health and economic crises on women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, and racialized workers.
ONN continues to advocate for:
- A stabilization fund to provide financial support for nonprofits that have been hard hit as a sector and do not benefit from corporate tax breaks
- Revisions to employment standards policies regarding paid sick days for all employees
- Flexibility in provincial funding agreements with nonprofits, e.g., moving funds between budget lines, postponing reporting deadlines, and carry-forward provisions at year-end
- A seat at the table for nonprofits to be actively part of emergency preparedness planning and economic recovery
ONN is working with the Ontario government to ensure that nonprofits have the financial support, flexibility, and appropriate regulatory environment to survive the COVID crisis and thrive in the subsequent economic recovery.
What does the COVID-19 Action Plan mean for Ontario’s nonprofit sector?
Health care measures
- $3.3 billion for health care, most of which is for hospitals’ COVID-19 response
- $120 million to increase home and community care capacity
- $243 million for long-term care (includes municipal, for-profit, and nonprofit care homes)
- $75 million for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health care workers
- Details of how these resources will be distributed have not been shared, though ONN has heard of challenges in obtaining adequate PPE in the community health sector which comprises community health centres, hospices, and home care.
- $62 million to hire more doctors, nurses and personal support workers
- $170 million for community capacity, homecare and Ontario Telehealth Network
- $11 million for meal and medicine delivery to seniors (announced April 21; up from $5 million originally announced)
Pandemic measures for social services that operate as essential services during the State of Emergency
ONN members have noted urgent challenges in operating residential services (such as assisted living, women’s shelters, and group homes) with vulnerable people under the requirement for physical distancing and without adequate PPE. Some organizations have resorted to using hotels and other temporary spaces, the cost of which is high.
It is therefore welcome to see that the Economic Update allocates $70 million for infection control and PPE in residential facilities for children and youth in care, children with complex needs and people with developmental disabilities, retirement homes, youth justice facilities, and emergency shelters for women and families fleeing domestic violence.
Developmental services (DS), shelters for women fleeing violence, and children’s aid societies will receive $20 million in 2020, in addition to the $20 million announced on March 17 (which may be carried forward).
Measures to support nonprofit workers
As previously announced, the Economic Update provides support for emergency childcare options available to support parents working on the front lines in health care, policing, and corrections.
- Many nonprofit services have been deemed “essential workplaces” in the State of Emergency declaration, but their workers do not have access to these child care services. ONN is advocating for this discrepancy to be remedied.
The Update announces a $200 one-time payment to parents of children under age 12 ($250 if special needs), per child.
Economic measures affecting nonprofit employers
The largest economic measure, $6 billion in corporate income tax deferrals, does not help the nonprofit sector.
- Some nonprofit employers may benefit from the deferral of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) payments for up to six months
- Nonprofits that own property may benefit from the deferral of municipal property tax collection
- Reduced electricity costs will be charged in 2020-21 to eligible residential, farm and small enterprise consumers (including eligible nonprofits)
- The exemption threshold for paying the Employer Health Tax has been temporarily raised to $1 million for the 2020 tax year. This will save employers with payrolls between $490,000 and $1 million about $9,945
- $100 million is allocated to Employment Ontario for skills retraining programs for workers who have lost their jobs. The nonprofit sector may see some of this funding, although Employment Ontario programming now includes public, for-profit and nonprofit organizations
- A Regional Opportunities Tax Credit was announced but is not applicable to nonprofits, given that nonprofits are not subject to income tax
Measures to support municipal and First Nations crisis systems serving vulnerable Ontarians
- $148 million is allocated to the 47 municipal social service boards to use for their shelter systems and to support nonprofits such as food banks, homeless shelters, churches and emergency services to bolster their ability to function during the pandemic. (This was part of the $200 million announcement on March 23 that also includes $52 million to expand access to the Ontario Works emergency assistance program). It is unclear how much of the $148 million will reach nonprofits directly.
- $26 million in comparable funding is allocated for Indigenous communities.
What does the Economic Update & implementation bill mean for Ontario’s nonprofit sector?
According to the Economic Update, an overall increase in program spending is planned for 2020-21, including for community and social services (6.9 per cent) and health services (5.2 per cent). It is too soon to know whether these increases will be sufficient to support the range of human service nonprofits on the frontlines. The Ontario government may need to increase program spending to meet the demand for services, especially given that it spends considerably less on programs than other provinces.
There are also two key schedules in the implementation bill (Bill 188) that amend privacy legislation in ways that could affect data-sharing and personal health information. ONN is consulting our partners in health care and data policy to determine the implications for our sector.
- Data sharing for better program evaluation: Bill 188, schedule 2 amends the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to include measures allowing for extra-ministerial data integration units. This is an intriguing development that may facilitate the “data lab” model that ONN has been advocating for with our partners in the Administrative Data Policy Coalition. We will be looking for regulations to ensure that any data-sharing involving health and social service information is done on a nonprofit basis and takes an equity-focused approach.
- Personal health information: Bill 88, schedule 6 includes major amendments to the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. ONN recommends that the Ontario government follow the advice of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario in terms of avoiding the risks associated with monetizing health information.
ONN understands the Economic Update and COVID Action Plan to be the first steps in the Ontario government’s response to the emerging health and economic crisis. We look forward to further measures to ensure that communities across Ontario remain healthy and that local economies throughout the province have the financial stimulus and policy support needed to recover from the inevitable downturn. Whether they are performing arts groups or social enterprises reliant on the sale of tickets and services, or frontline health and social service groups that meet the immediate needs of their local communities, Ontario’s nonprofits are a major employer and a vital component of our provincial economy. Our sector will need appropriate support to survive the crisis and thrive in the subsequent recovery so that we can continue to meet our missions and serve communities.
Stay tuned as ONN releases the results of our flash survey on the impact of the COVID crisis on nonprofits- to be released in early April.