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Ontario Liberals promise to boost funding for special needs education

Ontario Liberals promise to boost funding for special needs education

Ontario's Liberal government says it plans to fund free child care for thousands of kids across the province starting in 2020.

A new report authored by a University of Toronto for the Ontario government is calling for free licensed child care in the province for children age 2½ to kindergarten.

The province is also expanding its OHIP+ program, which now serves those under 25, to make prescription drugs free for people over age 65 and over at a cost of about $1 billion over three years.

Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the initiative this morning, a day before the government is set to unveil its final provincial budget before a June election.

For seniors in long-term care facilities, the Liberals plan to spend $300 million over three years to hire a registered nurse in every site in Ontario and provide an average of four hours of personal daily care for each resident by 2022.

$350 per month for group infant and toddler care.

The spending document also contained a new $1-billion program to help seniors stay in their homes, covering maintenance expenses like snow removal and lawn care.

The budget also notes that last year, the Pensions Benefit Guarantee Fund would be boosted to $1,500 a month, a move Sousa is proposing be retroactive to last May "to ensure that former Sears Canada employees could benefit from receiving this additional support", he said, referring to the giant retailer who closed up shop last year, leaving pensioners in the lurch.

The program would begin in 2020 and come at a cost of $930 million to the province.

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"It is so good to finally see some recognition of the importance of child care to the well-being of families and neighbourhoods, not to mention the health of our economy", said Bryant.

The report says free child care for preschool children is an immediate priority. "But then, after about five seconds, you have to go, 'What's the catch?"' said Eva Klein, who has two kids and a third on the way.

$200 per month for family infant and toddler care.

About 96,000 preschoolers are now enrolled in licensed care across the province at an average annual cost to parents of $9,900, according to an analysis by University of Toronto economist Gord Cleveland, who devised the plan for the government.

Smokers will pay about two cents more per cigarette starting March 29, as the province tries to get more people to kick the habit. The deadline for opting in has been extended to April 20 to give providers more time, particularly because the startup is occurring over spring break when many providers are away.

The Liberal budget also allots new funding for the province's vulnerable, including the largest increase in social assistance payments in more than a decade.

She said she "knew it would hurt but believed it was the only action she could take in that particular situation at that particular time". "What are her motives?"

Sousa brushed off suggestions the Liberals were pandering for votes, saying the government made a choice to run a deficit in order to provide what he called much-needed support to Ontarians. The province won't be back in the black until 2024-25 - beyond even the next election should the Liberals form another majority in June - according to government projections.

Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford said the Tories understand that daycare is a "big issue", but wouldn't commit to funding the Liberal program if his party formed government.


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