Spring is just around the corner! And, in political circles that means speculation on what will be included in upcoming provincial and federal budgets is in full swing.
Following a year that saw heavy increases in government spending to fight the Covid-19 pandemic—and even saw the federal government cancel the 2020 budget—we are gearing up for a very interesting budget season.
This week, we’ll take a quick look at the types of initiatives we expect to see in the Province of Ontario’s budget, talk about what “net zero” means, and highlight a great story from last week on the local vaccination rollout.
1. Provincial budget: what do we expect?
Last week, Provincial Finance Minister and President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy announced that the Province of Ontario will release the 2021 Ontario Budget on March 24th. As we look ahead to the release of this document and await the news of its contents, we can draw on some clear indicators as to what the feel of this budget will be.
The key words? “Resilience and recovery.” Minister Bethlenfalvy makes this point crystal clear when he says: “So, we’ll defeat the virus by working together. And when we do, our collective efforts will turn to unleashing the growth that we are going to count on for a strong recovery.”
In November, the province released Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. Expect those themes to continue with this updated action plan. All indicators point to the province staying the course, meaning that we’ll likely see support for municipalities, support for small business, and investments in healthcare and long-term care.
That said, we hope that as the province looks forward, with vaccine rollouts now in full swing, that their budget will also be forward-looking.
In February, NII and the Bruce Power Centre for Next Generation Nuclear released a report that outlined an approach for creating a made-in-Ontario hydrogen talent strategy.
The report includes steps that can be taken today to build the economy of tomorrow, including creating a hydrogen workforce council and developing plans to educate and certify skilled workers across the hydrogen value chain.
While we rightfully focus our attention on getting Ontarians over the finish line that is the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, let’s not lose sight of the fact that another race is simultaneously taking place: the race to net zero by 2050. Ontario and indeed the Clean Energy Frontier region can be leaders in this race and there are important steps that we can take now, while also fighting to bring an end to Covid-19.
2. What is net zero?
Let’s continue this train of thought. I just mentioned “net zero”. It’s a term that is being used more and more by governments, businesses, and individuals as the benchmark in our collective goal of protecting the environment.
Rather than having me try to zero in on net zero, NII has created a great video to explain exactly what we’re talking about. Check it out:
3. ‘Mini-hub’ delivers big local vaccination results
Last weekend, the Nuclear Innovation Institute was transformed from a hub for innovation to a hub for vaccination. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all the incredible nurses, paramedics, and staff that worked tirelessly to vaccinate hundreds of local residents over the age of 80.
It was heartwarming to witness the shot of optimism that came along with residents receiving their vaccine. You can read more about the NII vaccination hub and see some great pictures from the clinic here.