2024 Ontario Budget2024 Ontario Budget

The 2024 Ontario Budget: Highlights & Takeaways

On March 26, 2024, the Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, presented 2024 Ontario Budget: Building a Better Ontario.

The budget is one of the government’s signature policy documents, outlining its economic, fiscal and policy plans for the year ahead. For CPAs, it provides a window into the government’s priorities and the state of the province’s economy and fiscal health.

In light of ongoing economic uncertainty—and the resulting lower revenues and higher expenditures than were previously projected—the government has elected to maintain focus on its core priorities. These include transit and transportation infrastructure; skilled trades; electric vehicle manufacturing and critical mineral exploration; affordability, with a commitment to no new taxes and fees, and investments in public services such as health care.

The government now expects the deficit to be larger than projected in the 2024-25 fiscal year, and its path to balance has been pushed out to 2026-27.

What’s in Store for the Ontario Economy?

The 2024 budget was delivered against a backdrop of deteriorating expectations for the province’s economic performance when compared to the projections in the 2023 budget. The government expects real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by just 0.3% in 2024, down from the previous forecast of 1.3%. With Ontario’s population forecast to grow by 2.6% to just over 16 million in 2024-25, that means real GDP per capita will decline.

In fact, forecasts for real GDP growth in 2025 and 2026 are lower than what was projected a year ago. According to the government, this reflects economic headwinds stemming from various sources such as inflation, geopolitical developments, and rising trade tensions.

Inflation—the rate at which consumer prices are increasing—is expected to continue moderating in 2024 to 2.6% before stabilizing at 2.0%, the midpoint of the Bank of Canada’s target, in 2025 and beyond. For Ontarians, this will come as a welcome change from the 6.8% inflation in 2022 and 3.8% in 2023.

However, lowered expectations for economic growth bring with them a decline in projected revenue. For the next two fiscal years, the government is expecting provincial revenues to be $8 billion lower annually, on average, than what was projected in the 2023 budget. At the same time, total expense is tracking to be $3.4 billion higher annually, on average, over the next two years, relative to expenditures in the 2023 budget. The fiscal plan incorporates the impact of higher compensation costs in the public sector related to the Bill 124 court decision.

A combination of slowing revenue—due also in part to a continued gas tax cut in 2024—and accelerating expenditures explains why the provincial deficit is much larger than previously expected and why the timeline to a return to balance has been pushed out by two years. Rather than register the surplus that was planned for 2024-25, the government now expects a $9.8 billion deficit (see table below). The government is projecting another $4.6 billion deficit to occur in 2025-26 before a return to a small surplus ($0.5 billion) in 2026-27, which coincides with an election year for the province.

With larger deficits, a slowing economy, and debt-financed capital expenditures, the province’s net debt (gross debt minus financial assets) is slated to grow from 38.0% of GDP in 2023-24 to 39.2% in 2024-25. This key metric of the overall provincial debt burden will increase again in 2025-26 to 39.5% before dropping to 39.1% in the year of a balanced budget.

Fiscal 2024-25: Budget 2024 vs. Budget 2023

This is a table associated with the information above




Total Expense



Surplus (Deficit) Before Reserve





Surplus (Deficit)-9.80.2-10.0
Net Debt as a % of GDP39.2%37.7%1.5%

Tax Measures: What’s New

In last year’s budget, the government announced a review of the provincial tax system with a stated goal of enabling productivity, simplicity and modernization. While this review is still ongoing, the government did announce several key tax changes in the 2024 budget.

  • Introducing legislation to amend the Gasoline Tax Act and the Fuel Tax Act to extend the 5.3 cents per litre cut, maintaining the rate of tax on gas and fuel at 9% for an additional six months until December 31, 2024. The estimated value of this tax measure is $620 million.
  • Proposing to eliminate the wine basic tax that applies to sales of Ontario wine and wine coolers in on‐site winery retail stores, with the new rate coming into effect on April 1, 2024, and conducting a targeted review of taxes and fees on beer, wine and alcoholic beverages. The estimated cost of eliminating the wine basic tax is $8 million.
  • Removing the “tethering” requirements for the Ontario Computer Animation and Special Effects (OCASE) Tax Credit from the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit or the Ontario Production Services Tax Credit. This tethering will be replaced with new rules:
    • Qualifying corporations would be required to incur a minimum of $25,000 in Ontario labour expenditures for each production for which the OCASE tax credit is claimed.
    • The minimum labour expenditure threshold would be required to be incurred in the taxation year of the claim or cumulatively between the taxation year of the claim and the previous taxation year.
    • Certain types of productions would be excluded from eligibility, including but not limited to instructional videos, music videos and gaming videos.

The government also announced that it is undertaking a review of the property assessment and taxation system. Consultations have begun to seek input on the scope and priority areas of the review starting in early Spring, and the government announced that the provincewide property reassessment will continue to be deferred until this review is complete.

In addition, the budget aims to strengthen the Non-Resident Speculation Tax through increased information sharing between the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

Following the government’s previous announcement to remove Ontario’s proportion of the HST on new purpose-built rental units, the budget now allows municipalities to impose a tax on vacant dwellings and reduce property taxes on new purpose-built rentals.

Finally, the budget contained the following technical legislative amendments:

  • Amendments to the Estate Administration Tax Act, 1998 to include the term “small estate certificate” and “amended small estate certificate” under the definition of the term “estate certificate.”
  • An amendment to the Financial Administration Act to provide express authority for intra‐day credit for loans entered into by the province of Ontario.

For more information, please see the 2024-25 Budget Annex: Details of Tax Measures and Other Legislative Initiatives.

Priorities and Policies: A Mix of Old and New

Below is a select list of non-tax initiatives highlighted in the budget:

  • Allocating $26.2 billion in 2024-25 for capital investments in highways, transit, hospitals, long-term care, schools, universities and colleges, high speed internet, and municipal infrastructure. The 10-year capital plan totals $190.2 billion
  • Allocating $1 billion for the new Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program to help build more homes and a total of $825 million for the Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund for the repair, rehabilitation and expansion of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.
  • Expanding the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) program for seniors and indexing the GAINS benefit to inflation annually. The annual private income eligibility threshold will also increase.
  • Launching a new $200 million Community Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Fund for new and upgraded sport, recreation and community facilities in communities across the province.
  • Extending the tuition freeze at Ontario’s publicly assisted colleges and universities for at least three more years.
  • Allocating $903 million over three years, starting in 2024-25, to create a Postsecondary Education Sustainability Fund, which will include a sector‐wide increase to operating grants for Ontario’s postsecondary institutions. This includes $203 million in targeted supports for publicly-assisted colleges and universities.
  • Allocating an additional $100 million this year in its Skills Development Fund.
  • Allocating $46 million over three years to improve police response times and purchase four new police helicopters and help address the rise in auto theft and violent crime in the GTA.
  • Additional proposed auto insurance changes include making certain insurance optional. While mandatory auto insurance accident benefit coverage will continue to apply to medical, rehabilitation and attendant care benefits, all other benefits would become optional. Proposed legislation would also require health and rehabilitation benefits to be paid for by automobile insurance companies first before extended health care plans.

In Conclusion

It is important for CPAs to understand the Ontario government’s economic and fiscal outlook as well as its policy priorities. With 2024 Ontario Budget: Building a Better Ontario, the Ontario government has signaled a desire to maintain the course in its overarching plan for the province.

While the economic and fiscal ground has shifted, and the resulting medium-term outlook of the province has changed, the government elected to prioritize stability over making any major changes to its policy or its approach.