Province seeking input for next budget

TORONTO—Ontario is inviting the public to vote on ideas submitted through Budget Talks, an innovative online consultation to develop policies that will be part of Ontario’s future. 

A press release from the province notes that this year more than 700 ideas were submitted in five focus areas including child care, seniors, small business, students and healthy living.

Up to $5 million is available in Ontario’s 2018 Budget to implement the most popular ideas.

“Budget Talks is an excellent opportunity for the public to submit ideas that will help build a brighter future for people across Ontario,” said Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa. “Public engagement is fundamental to the development of good public policy. We now need your help to decide which ideas will be funded as part of the 2018 Budget.”

There were 82 ideas considered in the deliberations of 95 Ontarians who discussed ideas at workshops held in London, Ottawa, Sudbury and Toronto over three weekends in November and December. Panelists were selected from those Ontarians who indicated their interest in serving by registering online at the Budget Talks website.

The ideas reviewed by the committee were those that had been submitted online and which met the submission criteria as determined by the province.

The panelists were selected to reflect Ontario’s population. After the daylong discussions, each panelist had 10 stickers to attach to the idea they felt should be among the 13 to go forward to a public vote.

The 13 ideas that have been selected to go forward to a vote include: food education for Kindergarten and elementary students; increased access to healthy food for Northern Ontario; increased access to support for people with autism; increased mental health support for aboriginal youth; research study to reduce food waste from retailers; supervised housing for people with mental health issues; temporary housing for people with mental health issues; temporary mental health support clinics; preserving the stories of Ontario’s seniors; seniors provide reading and writing support for students; cargo cruisers to deliver goods of small business; earlier introduction of French language classes to students; and edible garden programs in elementary schools.

By visiting, you can vote for three favourite ideas before 5 pm, Friday, January 26. Selected ideas will be announced as part of the upcoming 2018 Budget.

The release notes that “engaging people across the province in the budget process is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change.”