In developing priorities and a framework for decisions in this plan, the government relied on three over-arching themes that respond to the trends discussed in Part One.
Investments in such core economic infrastructure as highways, transit, postsecondary education, and broadband connectivity are essential to competitiveness. For that reason, this plan focuses heavily on investments in these areas. By helping the Ontario economy to become more productive, expand, and create the good jobs of the future, infrastructure investments will help to ensure a higher standard of living for all Ontarians.
The government is also committed to ensuring that its infrastructure is properly aligned with the lifetime needs of people in Ontario. This plan focuses on helping to ensure that areas attracting new residents will be able to meet increasing demand for services, while responding to changes in the population’s age structure overall. In particular, this plan looks at the implications for health care and other infrastructure as the share of people aged 65 and older increases in the next decade.
The Province and its partners have a responsibility to act as good stewards, so that Ontario’s infrastructure provides the services needed today and in the decades ahead. Good stewardship rests above all on proper asset management, because very often the best investments are in repairs and rehabilitation, not replacement.
Good stewardship also entails looking forward to manage emerging issues, such as climate change and the need for accessibility and environmental sustainability, so that infrastructure remains able to meet public needs through the 21st century. Part Three of this plan provides more details on how asset management planning and stewardship will evolve in Ontario over the coming decade.
The Province strongly supports public transit for several reasons:
Transit takes cars off our roads. Investments in GO Transit, for example, allowed the system to carry 13.1 million more riders in 2009–10 than in 2003–04. On a typical weekday, GO Transit takes the equivalent of more than 90,000 cars off the road.
It can also cut commute times. For example, an express GO train takes less than 25 minutes to travel from Clarkson station in Mississauga to Union Station in downtown Toronto. The same trip by car can take twice as long during rush hour.
Car ownership represents a large share of household transportation costs. Transit options that reduce dependence on the automobile can provide significant savings.
The use of transit reduces environmental impacts. Every one per cent increase in the share of transit versus travel by car would reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by about 25,000 tonnes a year.
A position statement of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario noted that people have been found to be healthier when they live close to public transit and in higher-density neighbourhoods.
The Province has invested more than $10.8 billion to support transit since 2003, including:
Providing $1.6 billion to municipalities across Ontario since 2004 for their transit systems through a dedicated share of the provincial gas tax
Funding of $870 million to help extend Toronto’s Spadina subway line into York Region
Providing funding for the Mississauga Transitway, the Brampton Züm project, and the York Viva bus rapid transit network
Providing support to Hamilton to study potential rapid transit on two major corridors
Making investments of roughly $4.7 billion in GO Transit to:
Introduce 12-car trains to carry an additional 300 passengers on each trip on the Lakeshore and Milton lines
Create new grade separations and track upgrades to GO corridors to help reduce delays and allow more service
Resume GO rail service to Barrie and build a new station
Extend GO bus service to Peterborough
The demand for transit is expected to increase in the years ahead:
By 2021, roughly 10.3 million people are expected to live in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area, up by about 1.4 million from the current level. Without robust and effective public transit systems, rising commute times and road congestion will hamper economic growth and quality of life. In its regional transportation plan released in 2008, Metrolinx estimated that average daily commute times in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area would increase from 82 minutes to 109 minutes in 25 years if there were no significant new regional transit investments.
The importance of Toronto’s Union Station as a key transportation hub that brings people from surrounding communities into the downtown will increase, with its morning peak-hour passenger traffic forecast to quadruple over the next 25 years. Travel across and between surrounding regions will also rise, putting pressure on areas with limited or no public transit at present.
Other rapidly growing parts of the province, such as Ottawa and Waterloo Region, are planning for significant ridership growth that will require transit upgrades and expansions.
The growth in the number of seniors, who use transit more frequently, is likely to increase demand throughout Ontario, including smaller centres.
Ontarians on the move
In the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area alone, 12 public transit systems provide more than a million bus, subway, and commuter train trips every day. Some 150,000 of those trips use the provincially owned GO Transit train and bus network, which connects with the municipalities’ systems in the region. OC Transpo, which serves Ottawa, provides more than 200,000 trips a day, many of them using a dedicated transitway. The Grand River Transit system, which serves Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, delivers more than 40,000 daily trips across the region.
|Fleet sizes, selected Ontario municipalities|
|Regular buses||Specialized vehicles||Rail vehicles||Fleet|
Linking transit in southern Ontario
The Big Move is a regional transportation plan developed by Metrolinx to improve transportation networks throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
In addition to Metrolinx projects, the Province has supported the Mississauga Transitway, Brampton Züm ,and Durham Highway 2 bus rapid transit projects.
The Mississauga Transitway will provide service along Highway 403, Eastgate Parkway, and Eglinton Avenue between Winston Churchill and Renforth, and connect with transit systems in Toronto as well as other communities in the western part of the Greater Toronto Area. The project is expected to be in service by spring 2013.
Brampton’s Züm system will provide service along three major corridors in the city and connect with transit systems in Mississauga, York Region, and Toronto. The first line began service in 2010, and another two are expected to be up and running by fall 2012.
Metrolinx is moving forward with the implementation of the York Viva bus rapid transit project and the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown light rail transit line running about 25 kilometres from Black Creek Drive to Scarborough Centre. The line will be largely underground from Black Creek to Kennedy, then partially elevated from Kennedy to Scarborough Centre.
GO, a division of Metrolinx, is making service improvements to continue increasing ridership, with a target of more than 100 million trips by 2020–21. Its aim is two-way, all-day service on the majority of its rail network. GO also expects the share of its riders travelling outside the downtown Toronto core to increase from 12 to 16 per cent.
GO will work with its partners to provide integrated transit services, with the PRESTO fare card playing a key role. PRESTO makes it easier to travel seamlessly across different transit systems in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area with the tap of just one card.
Since 2003, the Province has invested heavily in transit, including the GO Transit system, and has made major commitments going forward:
It has committed more than $9 billion to regional rapid transit projects in Toronto and York Region, such as the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown light rail transit line and York Viva bus rapid transit. In addition, a passenger rail service linking Toronto Union Station to Pearson International Airport will be in service in time for the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games.
The Province has committed $600 million in funding to support rapid transit in the City of Ottawa. The project involves converting more than 12 kilometres of the existing transitway to light rail transit, with a portion of the route to be tunnelled under downtown Ottawa.
In Waterloo Region, the Province has committed $300 million to support a proposed plan to create a roughly 35-kilometre-long rapid transit corridor. The corridor would better connect the cities of Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge, linking Grand River Transit to the GO system.
The dedicated portion of gas tax revenues will continue to provide municipalities across Ontario with long-term, sustainable support for new transit equipment, fleet maintenance, and expanded operations.
In addition, the Province has also brought institutional innovation to the sector with the creation of its Metrolinx agency to improve coordination and integration of transportation across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Given the demand for transit, the Province expects to invest significantly in this sector over the next decade. Specifically, it intends to:
Coordinate and support a significant expansion of transit in the urban centres designated in the 2006 Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including Waterloo Region, as well as in Ottawa and mid-sized cities across the province where significant growth in demand is forecast.
Work with Metrolinx and the area’s transit systems to continue to invest in the priorities identified in the Big Move, in line with the fiscal capacity of the Province, with the aim of creating a truly regional transit system in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. This will also help move towards GO Transit’s goal of increasing annual ridership from 55.6 million in 2009–10 to more than 100 million trips by 2020–21.
Expand the role of Infrastructure Ontario to use the alternative financing and procurement (AFP) model in the transit sector in coordination with Metrolinx. Part Three of this plan provides more details on procurement.
Acquire key transit assets, such as GO rail corridors, as the fiscal situation permits.
Move forward on electrification of the GO system as the fiscal situation permits and where the benefits justify the cost.
Build more options for active transportation, including walking and cycling, into transportation plans and public transit systems.
The government will continue to invest in the capacity and quality of the province’s highways, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure to support economic and social goals. Ontario’s businesses rely heavily on this network to get their products and services to market on time, especially in an increasingly competitive economy. Highway infrastructure is also critical to the delivery of effective public transit, particularly in highly urbanized areas. In places with no public transit, roads and highways are generally the only way to get people to work and other destinations.
The need to keep traffic moving on the 400-series highways will be key because they comprise a critical part of Ontario’s highway network. As the backbone of the entire system, the Highway 401 corridor alone carries 437,000 vehicles a day and two-thirds of the freight trucked between Ontario and the United States, making it one of the busiest sections of highway in North America. With economic growth, the risk of bottlenecks will increase.
A major challenge in the coming decade will be much heavier demand in the province’s fastest-growing regions. While providing more public transit options will help relieve this challenge, not all the demand can be shifted to public transit. As part of a long-term strategy to improve the efficiency of highways in high-demand areas, the Province has introduced HOV lanes for cars with two or more passengers, as well as for public transit vehicles and inter-city bus carriers. The evidence to date shows that these lanes shorten driving time for all traffic.
The size of Ontario’s transportation system calls for wise investments in upkeep and rehabilitation. Well-maintained roads, bridges, culverts, and other structures last longer, saving taxpayer dollars in the long run. They also make travel safer, shorten commute times, and decrease vehicle-repair costs for drivers.
Bridge safety is of special importance. Many of the Province’s bridges were built in the 1950s and 1960s, with an expected service life of 60 years. Over the next 10 years, many of these bridges will require rehabilitation or replacement. Highway pavement will also require a significant amount of repair work over the next five years.
Chart 5 - Bridge Building Periods (Age Profiles)
For the past several years, the Province has significantly increased funding for its directly owned highways and bridges to increase capacity and meet upkeep needs. Building on the success of its alternative financing and procurement model, it has announced two major AFP highway projects: the Windsor-Essex Parkway and the extension of Highway 407. There will be ongoing need for new and rehabilitated highways, roads, and bridges. Future investments will help meet that need.
The Windsor-Essex Parkway project
The value of the cargo that passes between Windsor and Detroit is the highest for any border crossing in North America, and trade is expected to increase well into the future.
The Windsor-Essex Parkway will improve this busy crossing, linking Highway 401 directly to the U.S. interstate system for the first time. It is expected that construction will take three years and create roughly 12,000 project-related jobs, most of them in the Windsor-Essex region. Work is expected to begin in summer 2011.
The parkway is Ontario’s largest highway project at present and one of the largest in Canada. When complete, it is expected to cut every trip through Windsor by close to 20 minutes on average, separating internationally bound vehicles from local traffic. It will replace the existing municipal roadway and its many traffic lights with a new six-lane freeway and local service roads, giving international traffic free-flow access to a new, state-of-the-art gateway.
Because much of the parkway will be below grade, the community will also benefit from improved air quality, reconnection of neighborhoods long divided by the original roadway, 20 kilometres of new trails for pedestrian and cycling use, and more than 300 acres of green space.
This project will be delivered using the AFP model, which provides an incentive to use innovative techniques to complete the project on time and on budget.
Over the next decade, the government will improve Ontario’s transportation network, support economic growth, and shorten commute times by:
Developing a corridor-based approach to investing in additions and expansions to the 400-series and other highways to prevent bottlenecks and handle increasing demand.
Adding at least 500 centreline-kilometres of highway where warranted by growth and demand, primarily through such major planned projects as:
Extending Highway 407 east to Highway 115/35;
Building the Windsor-Essex Parkway, which is expected to reduce travel time for each of the 6,500 trucks that cross the Windsor-Detroit border every day by close to 20 minutes on average;
Continuing to widen portions of Highway 401 in southwestern Ontario and the Kingston area; and
Enhancing Northern Ontario’s Trans-Canada Highway corridors by expanding sections of Highways 11, 69, 17, and 11/17 to four lanes to increase capacity, improve safety, and support the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.
Continuing the rollout of the long-term HOV strategy, which calls for more than 450 kilometres of lanes along the 400-series highways, including sections in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Ottawa, by 2031.
Further developing the multimodal strategy of linking roads and highways with other forms of transportation, such as airports, shipping ports, rail, and border crossings. This will require working with the federal government as well as state and other provincial governments.
The Continental Gateway Strategy, which will enhance the flow of goods in Quebec and Ontario and with the United States, represents a significant multimodal project.
The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario also calls for development of a northern multimodal strategy.
The Province will continue to work with the federal government and Quebec to assess the feasibility of high-speed rail in the Windsor to Quebec City corridor.
Using innovative construction and repair techniques to reduce environmental impact, lower costs, and minimize impacts on users.
Working to add more transit-supportive elements to the highway network and prepare for such new technologies as alternative fuel vehicles.
Using metrics like those in Table 2 to track progress towards specific goals for the state of repair of highways and bridges.
|Provincial highway network state-of-good-repair targets|
|Highway network||Pavement condition||Bridge condition|
|Northern Highways||67% “Good”||85% “Good”|
|Southern highways||67% “Good”||85% “Good”|
|Note: “Good” condition denotes that an asset will not require major rehabilitative work over the next five years|
A strong education system and the capacity for leading-edge research and innovation are the foundations of a successful economy in the 21st century. Ontario has invested significantly in schools, universities, colleges, and research facilities to help form a well-educated workforce. Strategic investments will continue, both to support key priorities and help meet demand.
Education and innovation accomplishments
The Province has invested significantly in schools since 2003:
Full-day kindergarten will be offered at close to 800 elementary schools by September 2011
230,000 new spaces for elementary and secondary students were created with the building of more than 400 new schools, with over 120 more on the way
More than 19,000 school renewal projects completed or under way through the Good Places to Learn program
For the postsecondary sector, Ontario has:
Provided about $1.4 billion for postsecondary campus renewal and strategic capital projects through ReNew Ontario
Through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, committed $1.5 billion with the federal government towards 49 college and university projects
Helped to create more than 36,000 new postsecondary spaces through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program and other provincial stimulus investments
To date, committed almost $600 million towards more than 1,200 approved projects under the Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure program, leveraging $1.4 billion from other partners
The government is currently targeting funding to provide the infrastructure to allow children across Ontario to be enrolled in full-day kindergarten. Full-day kindergarten began in September 2010 at almost 600 schools. By September 2014, it will be available at all elementary schools across the province.
The full-day kindergarten program follows other major province-wide initiatives of the Ministry of Education to improve Ontario’s schools. For example, Ontario’s Good Places to Learn program, launched in 2005, provided capital funding to school boards to build additional space to support the government’s goal of smaller primary class sizes. Under the Primary Class Size initiative, boards successfully met provincial targets beginning in 2008–09: 90 per cent of primary classes made up of 20 or fewer students and no primary classes with more than 23 students.
Underlying such major programs are demographic trends that also determine the need for elementary and secondary school facilities. As Chart 6 shows, despite year-to-year variations that largely reflect specific initiatives, investments in schools have roughly tracked changes in the number of children and young adults aged four to 17.
Chart 6 - Population Growth Drives Elementary and Secondary School Infrastructure Stock
Despite a province-wide decline in the school-age population over the past decade, there have been pockets of growth, mainly in the outlying areas of Greater Toronto and Hamilton, where young families are settling. As a result, some schools are now over capacity. Over the next several years, boards in Peel, York, Halton, Ottawa-Carleton, and Waterloo are expected to experience growth in enrolment.
The condition of school facilities is important to parents, students, and school staff. The Province is collecting information on school conditions to help improve decisions around repairs and rehabilitation.
Over the next 10 years, Ontario will work with school boards to:
Ensure a system of elementary and secondary schools that meets present and future needs.
Continue capital investment to support underserved French-language rights-holders.
Base renewal funding decisions on school condition assessments and asset management plans, and work towards setting state-of-good-repair targets. This change will enable school boards to undertake projects to address the backlog of repairs in the most cost-effective way
Schools and the community
School boards are looking at innovative ways to make the best use of assets, whether by sharing facilities with other boards or public entities or enabling other types of community partnerships. Examples of innovative arrangements include:
Maple Ridge Elementary School in Ottawa has a community centre attached to the building, which the board owns and leases to the municipality. The shared facilities include a skating rink and tennis courts.
St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School is a joint project with the city of Mississauga. In addition to the school, the facility houses a community centre with a pool, a municipal library that students use, and a track and field facility used by students and the community. St. Marcellinus Secondary School in Mississauga has a similar arrangement.
Artscape, a non-profit organization, is turning the Shaw Street School in Toronto, built in 1915 and unused for more than a decade, into a community-based cultural facility. Several arts groups and artists have confirmed their involvement. The repurposed building is expected to be ready in spring 2012.
As Chart 7 shows, enrolment at the postsecondary level has been rising steadily over the past decades. Increasing participation rates reflect the growing need for postsecondary education in Ontario’s labour force and economy. From 2002–03 to 2010–11, enrolment growth was strong, increasing by 140,000. Growth has been concentrated in universities more than colleges, and in and around the Greater Toronto Area for the most part.
Chart 7 - Increasing Share of Postsecondary-Age Population is Engaging in Higher Learning
Under the Open Ontario initiative, the Province’s goal is to raise the postsecondary education attainment rate to 70 per cent. Experts predict that 70 per cent of future jobs will require postsecondary education.
To that end, the Province recently announced operating funding to support enrolment growth of more than 60,000 students by 2015–16. The Province will also continue to help more apprentices complete their training. The government’s recently released Putting Students First plan aims to ensure a sustainable postsecondary system strategically aligned with the needs of students and of Ontario’s economy in the years ahead.
College and university infrastructure investments are increasingly driven by technological advances, including laboratory and scientific equipment.
Chart 8 - The Increasing Importance of Technology in Colleges and Universities
The government continues to make significant investments in research capacity at postsecondary institutions through the Research Infrastructure program of the Ontario Research Fund. These investments include the $300 million in research infrastructure funding announced in the 2009 Ontario Budget to support Ontario institutions in leveraging federal funding for research infrastructure.
Over the next 10 years, Ontario will work with universities, colleges, and the research community to:
Ensure that infrastructure investments respond to demand, align with the Putting Students First plan, and support the goal of a 70-per-cent attainment rate for postsecondary education.
Introduce a new satellite campus policy to help to manage growth in the system and give priority to new satellite campuses in areas where growth is expected to be concentrated.
Develop a more comprehensive funding policy for major capital projects, including procurement approaches and a framework for determining the appropriate provincial share. Procurement is discussed in more detail in Part Three of this plan. The Province will continue to consult with colleges and universities on these elements.
Emphasize asset management planning, repurposing, and facilities renewal. All colleges and universities will be required to develop asset management plans, which will outline the condition of existing assets and the institution’s plan for addressing their renewal needs, as a prerequisite for infrastructure funding. Part Three of this plan discusses asset management in more detail. When seeking funding for expansion, institutions will need to provide a clear rationale for forgoing renewal instead. Repurposing of existing space will be encouraged.
Continue to invest in research infrastructure.
The Province’s plan for building a sustainable public health care system is based on delivering good care when and where people need it, and protecting the health system for future generations. Investments in health infrastructure will support those goals and the government’s efforts to control health care costs.
|Per-capita provincial government health spending, by age group, Ontario, 2008, current dollars|
|Age group||Spending per person ($)*||Share of population, 2008 actual|
|Share of population, 2030 projection|
|* Weighted average.|
Note: Numbers may not add due to rounding
Sources: Canadian Institute for Health Information, Statistics Canada and Ontario Ministry of Finance population projections (Spring 2010)
Health care infrastructure must respond to demographic changes in the coming years. By 2021, the number of people 65-plus in Ontario will have increased by more than 800,000. Table 3 shows that as people age, they account for higher levels of health care spending.
To manage costs and give an aging population the right level of care, Ontario is adopting a continuum of care model. This model is suitable for a population with a large share of older people, whose health care needs tend to be more complex than younger people’s. It makes available a range of medical and related services and supports, in addition to critical care for patients who need it. Continuum of care will be supported by investments in appropriate health infrastructure, including long-term care beds and chronic care settings.
Co-location and hubs
Bringing together a range of services, some previously available in hospital, and locating all of them in a space in the community is a way of supporting the continuum of care model. Co-located services could include:
Spaces in the community, for example in a long-term care home, are more flexible and affordable, and often less intimidating to patients, than a hospital setting.
A health hub is similar to co-location, but on a larger scale. A hub might add day surgical programs, an urgent care clinic, and a community health centre to the range of services. Because of the wider range of services offered, it might be located within a hospital.
Both approaches would be based on providing continuity of care, from prevention to treatment and management, in a person-centred and integrated environment with access to a range of services.
Adopting the continuum of care model is key to relieving pressure on hospitals. For example, receiving the right care on an ongoing basis could prevent unnecessary emergency department visits and hospitalizations, especially of older patients.
When an elderly patient must be hospitalized, ensuring the stay is no longer than necessary is also critical. For example, almost one in five patients in acute-care beds do not need the level of resources and services provided in that setting. They are waiting to go to long-term care or a rehabilitation hospital, or to return home, possibly with health care supports. For elderly patients in particular, the unnecessary time spent in acute care poses health and social isolation risks.
Having people in acute care when they should be in another setting also creates backlogs in emergency departments, where critically ill people often remain for extended periods of time on a stretcher because no acute-care beds are available.
As well as affecting health outcomes, the problem skews the allocation of resources. Estimates indicate that moving patients to a more appropriate level of care when they are ready would generate savings across the system. Supporting the continuum of care model calls for creating facilities outside the hospital setting to deliver the health services required by older patients.
At the same time, there will continue to be significant pressure to invest in new or improved hospital infrastructure in areas of population growth.
To manage pressure on health care spending and improve patient outcomes, over the next decade Ontario will:
Support a gradual shift to continuum of care and community-based care models.
Invest in long-term care beds, while exploring options for healthy aging that could reduce this need over time.
Invest in three to five major hospital expansions and re development projects each year, subject to fiscal capacity.
Expand access to electronic health records. Progress has already been made on this goal and several additional major electronic health record systems will be completed by 2015.
Based on new asset management plans, set performance benchmarks for hospitals and long-term care homes. Part Three of this plan discusses asset management in more detail.
Encourage the sector to strive for greater efficiencies in the delivery of care, including a move towards a “hub” model where facilities offering different types of care are built together where warranted.
Involve Infrastructure Ontario in the management and delivery of traditional hospital projects, over time and in consultation with the health sector and building industry. Part Three of this plan discusses the role of Infrastructure Ontario in more detail.
The Province’s support for Ontario’s rural areas, cities, and regions is creating better places to live and work. As well as helping to fund municipal water systems and public transit, the Province is involved in improving access to public services in rural and remote areas, including the North, supporting regional economic growth, revitalizing communities, and meeting housing needs.
Provincial investments are helping to revitalize downtowns and other neighbourhoods in towns and cities across Ontario. In Thunder Bay, for example, a new consolidated courthouse will provide a focal point for ongoing redevelopment of the city’s centre. The city of Thunder Bay notes that it is intended to provide an “anchor for revitalization.” The downtown south core location of the courthouse is regarded as crucial to advancing Thunder Bay’s economic development strategies.
Thunder Bay is one of the five largest cities in Northern Ontario — the others being Greater Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, and Timmins — that together are home to more than half the northern population of 800,000. The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, released in March 2011, identifies these cities as regional anchors that are optimal locations for infrastructure to build economic potential and support services.
The growth plan foresees the cities as developing vibrant, mixed-use core areas that attract employment and provide a broad range of amenities. A key pillar of the 25-year plan is revitalizing and linking these and other communities to support growth to help northerners build a resilient and sustainable economy. The growth plan also encourages communities to work together to create a regional approach to development.
Rural, city, and regional accomplishments
Since 2003, Ontario has:
Supported thousands of projects to upgrade and build new recreational and community facilities across Ontario
Helped to fund enhanced lighting, green spaces, and new sidewalks to improve city and town streetscapes
Provided funding to leverage additional partner investments in broadband capacity in eastern and northern Ontario
Begun the building of facilities throughout southern Ontario to host the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games
Attracted private-sector investment to transform former industrial sites on Toronto’s waterfront
Drawn up growth plans for the Greater Golden Horseshoe area and northern Ontario, and created a Greenbelt
Invested $3.4 billion in northern highways and roads, including support for local roads boards, resource access roads, and winter roads and more than $500 million to repair and replace bridges on the provincial highway network
Provided, through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, more than $380 million for over 500 public infrastructure projects
Invested, with the federal government, $704 million for rehabilitation and energy retrofits of more than 185,000 social housing units
Participated in the Canada–Ontario Affordable Housing Program, with more than 14,000 units completed and close to 7,500 units under development since 2005
Created Infrastructure Ontario’s loan program, with the potential to save non-profit and cooperative housing providers more than $25 million
The growth plan calls for coordinating infrastructure planning, land-use planning, and infrastructure investments and, in making decisions about northern Ontario, giving priority to investments that support the plan’s policies.
In southern Ontario, the Province is making key investments to host the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games that will result in major revitalization of athletic and recreational infrastructure across the region. In Toronto, additional resources have been committed to upgrade the West Don Lands waterfront area in time to locate the athletes’ village there. After the Games, the athletes’ village will become the centrepiece of a mixed-use, sustainable urban community. A significant share of the housing units will be built as affordable housing.
Initial public-sector investments to clean up old industrial sites have helped to kick-start private development around Toronto’s waterfront. New neighbourhoods include the West Don Lands and East Bayfront. Plans envision the creation of 40,000 residential spaces, one million square metres of employment space, and 300 hectares of parks and public spaces. The private sector has signed on for investments totalling $1.3 billion in the waterfront areas, signalling the planned transition of the area to local development.
East Bayfront, which comprises 22 hectares of underused land along the edge of Lake Ontario, is becoming a new community of 6,000 new residential units. Two public spaces opened in summer 2010 – Canada’s Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Common. As well, the new Corus Quay building, the corporate headquarters for Corus Entertainment, opened in September 2010. George Brown College’s new Health Sciences campus, currently under construction, is due to open in September 2012. The redevelopment is being led by Waterfront Toronto, a partnership of the governments of Ontario, Canada, and Toronto.
Social and affordable housing is another municipal infrastructure component. In November 2010, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which provides the framework within which municipal service managers deliver social and affordable housing, released a long-term affordable housing strategy.
The strategy proposes to create a new, outcomes-based accountability framework for the delivery of housing and homelessness services, provide greater flexibility to ensure investments address local needs, and establish key provincial interests, providing a foundation for future housing investments. Under the proposed legislative framework for the new strategy, municipal service managers would draft comprehensive local plans that reflect provincial interests and identify local priorities.
Connecting rural and remote communities – digitally
To help unserved and underserved communities, the Province made early investments in regional digital networks. Since 2007, it has committed roughly an additional $150 million to more than 75 broadband infrastructure projects. This has leveraged significant additional investments from other orders of government and private sector partners by reducing the hurdle to invest. As a result, by March 2012, an estimated 91 per cent of residents of Northern Ontario and 86 per cent of residents in rural Southern Ontario are expected to have access to basic broadband service of at least 1.5 megabits/second.
Major partnership projects currently under way include:
The Eastern Ontario Regional Network, a scalable network that will help to provide dependable high-speed access to most of the one million residents who live outside the region’s major cities; and
The North-Western Ontario Broadband Expansion initiative, a fibre-optic cable network that will bring broadband connectivity to 26 First Nation communities, as well as Red Lake and Pickle Lake.
Ontario recognizes the ongoing needs of communities and regions. Over the next decade, the Province will:
Explore ways to help municipalities with a stable or declining population meet the unavoidable fixed costs of their infrastructure.
Continue to assist with higher-order infrastructure needs, such as major transit projects, in urbanized areas.
Look for continuing opportunities for infrastructure to help revitalize communities.
Work with the federal government, Aboriginal peoples, and other partners to identify strategic infrastructure needs to support the implementation of the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.
Work with municipalities, businesses, and residents to support the implementation of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Continue to find ways and means to work with other orders of government to help meet important municipal responsibilities, such as affordable housing that meets local housing needs and complements the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. For example, the Province is working with the federal government on an initiative that would extend federal and provincial funding to help build and renovate affordable housing.
Transportation approaches for the North
Because northerners often need to travel long distances for work, education, and health services, transportation infrastructure is particularly key. Communities are linked to one another and the rest of the world by roads, rail, air, and water. The recently released Growth Plan for Northern Ontario notes that decisions on the North’s transportation system must focus on such opportunities as:
Optimizing the capacity, efficiency, and safety of the existing transportation system;
Linking major markets, resource development areas, and hub communities;
Enhancing connectivity among rail, road, marine, and air transportation: and
Meeting the needs of priority economic sectors and helping to implement regional economic plans.
The Province is committed to infrastructure investments that support sustainable water systems and that protect our natural landscapes and resources, including the Great Lakes.
Ontario’s water-related infrastructure, which includes drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, is almost all owned by the province’s municipalities, which are also responsible for operation. Between 2003 and 2008, $11 billion was invested in municipal water systems, the bulk from municipalities’ own resources.
Chart 9 - Capital Investment in Municipal Water/Wastewater Infrastructure
Further investment will be needed. For example, many systems are at, or close to, the end of their useful lives. In addition, a number face the need to meet the demands of population growth in their service areas. Climate change will have a significant impact on stormwater systems and will also create pressures on drinking water sources and wastewater systems.
Water sector accomplishments
Since 2003, Ontario’s accomplishments in the municipal water, wastewater, and stormwater sector include:
Passage of the Water Opportunities Act, 2010, to improve innovation and water conservation
Committing roughly $1.8 billion in grants to help almost 300 municipalities with more than 750 water and wastewater infrastructure projects
Committing almost $1.7 billion in loans through Infrastructure Ontario
Providing $20 million in operating funding through OSWAP 1&2 to help 166 smaller communities
Committing $50 million to help smaller communities improve water conservation and efficiency through OSWAP 3
The bulk of Ontario’s population is served by the very large drinking water and wastewater systems located in major urban centres. Conversely, there are many systems serving smaller communities. As Table 4 shows, for example, more than 80 per cent of drinking water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people. These smaller systems are generally more costly to operate for each household served, which is why the Province has helped address their needs through the Ontario Small Waterworks Assistance Program (OSWAP) and other investments.
|A few large water systems serve most of the population|
|Number of people served||Number of systems||Percentage of systems|
|1 – 500||232||34%|
|501 – 1000||91||13%|
|1,001 – 1,500||46||7%|
|1,501 – 2,500||54||8%|
|2,501 – 5,000||77||11%|
|5,001 – 7,000||24||4%|
|7,001 – 10,000||23||3%|
|10,001 – 100,000||91||13%|
|More than 100,000||39||6%|
|Source: Ontario Ministry of the Environment|
Loss of water from leaky pipes and inefficiencies in water and wastewater treatment facilities represent major costs. Leaks are easier to pinpoint and fix when operators can measure where water is flowing throughout the distribution system.
The Water Opportunities Act, 2010, allows the government to pass regulations that would require the preparation of municipal water sustainability plans and the establishment of performance measures and targets for municipal water, wastewater, and stormwater systems. It also provides the authority for actions to encourage the more efficient use of water.
Small and green are beautiful — and less expensive
New infrastructure is costly. Some communities are finding innovative ways to reduce costs. For example:
The City of Guelph deferred about $33 million in equipment and other costs by optimizing or “fine-tuning” its wastewater treatment plant.
In only six years, York Region’s Water for Tomorrow conservation program has deferred an estimated $40 million in new infrastructure at a cost of only $10 million.
“Green infrastructure” is another way to reduce the need for costly, large-scale solutions. It uses natural processes like infiltration and evaporation, often on a small scale close to the source, to reduce the burden on built systems. Green infrastructure is in use across Ontario:
Several municipalities, including York Region and Hamilton, offer subsidies to encourage the use of rain barrels to collect water from downspouts. Guelph’s program goes further by offering a $2,000 rebate for large-capacity harvesting systems.
Two provincial buildings, the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto and Garden City Tower in St. Catharines, have green roofs. Work is expected to be completed within a year on a green roof at the Ottawa Courthouse.
Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation is partnering with Trees Ontario on the Greening the Right of Way project, which will see some 290,000 trees planted along Ontario’s major highways.
As well as saving costs, green infrastructure solutions can have multiple other benefits, including removing undesirable chemicals from stormwater, increasing green space in urban environments, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, and providing natural habitat.
Over the next 10 years, Ontario will work to ensure the financial and environmental sustainability of municipal water, wastewater, and stormwater systems through activities on several fronts. The Province will:
Roll out requirements under the Water Opportunities Act, 2010, for municipal water sustainability plans and performance measurement and public reporting for water, wastewater, and stormwater systems.
Work with municipalities to encourage them to make the best use of existing infrastructure before building new capacity, and highlight to Ontarians the benefits of using water more efficiently. This would involve, for example, reducing demand by promoting conservation, tuning systems to ensure they are performing as well as possible, and using green infrastructure.
Encourage municipalities to work with industry, academia, and other orders of government to demonstrate and implement new and emerging Ontario water and wastewater approaches and technologies.
Work with smaller communities that lack the capacity to address water-related infrastructure needs on their own. This will include a program to systematically assess the need for financial and other types of support, and develop solutions using the best mix of options.
Make improved asset and financial management practices, as well as conservation and efficiency, preconditions for provincial infrastructure grants.
Explore an expanded role for Infrastructure Ontario so that water systems can benefit from its expertise in project management and use of the AFP approach.
Develop a framework for planning water-related infrastructure on a watershed basis. This will build on the source water protection framework under the Clean Water Act, 2006, and will help ensure that strategic, long-term infrastructure decisions are informed at an ecologically significant scale. Work could start in priority watersheds, such as the Grand and Thames Rivers, and would be done in concert with municipalities, Aboriginal peoples, conservation authorities, and other groups.
Ontario will take further steps to determine how wastewater systems can deal with emerging threats, including the environmental and health impacts of chemicals in urban wastewater streams and the need to adapt to climate change.
Urbanization will put an increasing strain on wastewater infrastructure and the water bodies that assimilate effluent. Ontario will explore innovative approaches for reclaiming water, recovering nutrients, and generating energy from wastewater to mitigate urbanization impacts.
The Province will continue to lead numerous environmental cleanup activities over the next 10 years and to invest in environmental assets.
Environmental cleanup is often linked to past industrial activities. Under the authority of the Environmental Protection Act, the Province can order those responsible for the contamination to clean up the site. Once an order is issued, the Province works to ensure those responsible for violations are held accountable. If required, the Province may step in to undertake the cleanup, recovering the costs where possible.
Restoration and protection accomplishments
Since 2003, the Province has invested roughly $950 million to manage Ontario’s natural resources and protect the environment. Key projects include:
working to clean up the Mid-Canada Line radar sites
helping to de-list Great Lakes Areas of Concern, including most recently Wheatley Harbour on Lake Erie
cleaning up the Pottersburg site in London, Ontario
preparing for the clean up of the Deloro Mine site
working with the owners of land across the province on which old oil and gas wells are located, to reduce risks to sources of drinking water
investing to maintain environmental assets, including more than 29,000 engineering installations, such as dams and drinking water systems in provincial parks, and more than 100,000 kilometres of forest roads and bridges
Cleanup and management of contaminated sites in Ontario is undertaken through various programs in several ministries. Projects range from one-time, small-scale initiatives to multi-year, large-scale investments.
The need for cleanup is not limited to land-based locations. The international Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement provides for the listing of Areas of Concern where environmental quality has degraded to such an extent that uses like drinking water, swimming, and wildlife habitat are compromised. Ontario and other governments are working to remove areas from the list. Examples of Ontario’s investments in remediation include the Bay of Quinte, Thunder Bay, and the St. Marys, Niagara, and Detroit rivers.
Finally, the Province is responsible for a very large and diversified portfolio of environmental assets that are essential to the delivery of key public services, as well as the protection of Ontario’s natural resources.
They include parks, forest access roads, firefighting stations and land and air fleets, dams, fisheries, and research facilities. These assets are located over a wide area and are highly visible and important to Ontarians, especially in rural and northern Ontario.
Over the next 10 years, the Province will:
Establish a new, one-window approach for environmental cleanup activities, including a new approach to ranking and managing projects. This will involve working over the first years of the plan to consolidate existing cleanup activities and related funding, develop a single inventory of contaminated sites, and create an evidence- and risk-based approach to guide cleanup priorities. This approach will enhance cleanup expertise.
Implement robust asset management practices to provide guidance on the right investment priorities and ensure funds flow to the assets that need it most, including such structures as dams in light of climate change concerns.
Continue to protect the Great Lakes ecosystems, develop sustainable economic and recreational opportunities, and increase public awareness of the lakes.
Promote joint action with federal and municipal governments to align policies and funding.
The Province has a leadership role to play in helping to ensure that communities are welcoming to visitors.
Tourism and culture accomplishments
Ontario and its visitors are benefiting from investments in tourism and cultural agencies and attractions made since 2003. These include:
Close to $60 million towards the development of the new Ottawa Convention Centre, which is expected to boost tourism in the capital region
More than $134 million for cultural renaissance projects such as the transformation of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, National Ballet School, Royal Conservatory of Music, and Canadian Opera Company
Revitalization of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (Upper Canada Village, Fort Henry, and Crysler’s Farm Battlefield sites) and redevelopment of facilities at Huronia Historical Parks
Provincial funding to help municipalities and regions develop their cultural offerings and tourism potential: for example, $24 million towards the Niagara Centre for the Performing Arts and the Cambridge Performing Arts Complex.
Tourism and cultural facilities preserve Ontario’s culture and history for the province’s own residents and build its appeal to tourists. Provincial parks and the natural landscape also attract tourists, as well as benefiting Ontarians.
Strong provincial investment in culture and tourism facilities in recent years has helped institutions to attract the visitors whose admission fees represent an important revenue source.
Over the next decade, Ontarians will continue to be the main users of the province’s tourism and culture infrastructure. Although the United States will remain a significant source of visitors, new growth is expected to come mainly from overseas. The number of people travelling worldwide for tourism and other reasons is expected to double to 1.6 billion by 2020, attributable mostly to China and other emerging nations.
In 2009, the Province released a comprehensive review called Discovering Ontario: A Report on the Future of Tourism. In response to one of the report’s recommendations, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in 2010 established 13 new regional tourism organizations that are independent, industry-led, and not-for-profit. Each organization is responsible for identifying priority projects that would benefit from infrastructure investment.
The report also recommended that the Province identify high-potential destinations and undertake a campaign to target investors, provide selective incentives, and make partnerships with government easier.
As a result of this recommendation, the Ministry is developing a 10-year tourism investment strategy to stimulate private sector investment in major new tourism developments. Investments in infrastructure are likely to be guided by this overarching strategy.
To reap greater benefit from investments in tourism and cultural attractions over the next decade, Ontario will:
Coordinate tourism-related infrastructure investments across government, ensuring that investments align with regional tourism priorities and strategies.
Continue to invest in capital repair and rehabilitation at tourism and cultural agencies and attractions to address renovations, building code upgrades, health and safety improvements, and statutory and regulatory compliance.
Ensure that government agencies and attractions focus on greater financial self-sustainability as a goal for future capital investments and identify opportunities to increase private sector and philanthropic contributions.
The 2015 Games
The Pan/Parapan American Games showcase athletes from the Americas and Caribbean and are the world’s third largest international multi-sport event. The Games will take place at more than 40 venues across southern Ontario, centred on the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. Hosting the Games is expected to:
Create 15,000 jobs in construction and Games operations
Attract 250,000 tourists
Bring 10,000 athletes and team officials to Ontario
Build and train a team of more than 20,000 volunteers — a valuable foundation for future events and community-building
Inspire all Ontarians by highlighting the value of sport and the health benefits of active living
Showcase Ontario’s unique multicultural community.
Beyond that, a key benefit for the region will be the creation of a solid legacy of sports and recreational facilities.
A range of government programs and services helps ensure all Ontarians have the resources and tools to achieve a better quality of life and to take part more fully in society.
Social infrastructure accomplishments
The Province has invested more than $570 million in capital funding in the social sector since 2003 to:
Increase the capacity of shelters for women fleeing domestic violence by adding beds to existing shelters and building new ones
Redevelop four children’s treatment centres
Invest in about 1,000 projects to improve social service agencies’ facilities
Support community-based options, like family and group homes and independent living, so that people with developmental disabilities no longer live in ministry-operated facilities
Commit to modernize information systems for court-ordered support orders, social assistance services, and child protection services
Build four new secure custody/detention facilities dedicated to youth justice services and expand an existing one
Programs and services are provided by some 1,870 community-based transfer payment agencies funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Examples of infrastructure in the sector include shelters, children’s aid societies, youth detention facilities and probation offices, treatment centres for children with complex conditions, facilities for early childhood development and people with special needs, and offices and other meeting places. Affordable housing, another important part of social infrastructure, is discussed in Section D.
The government has also identified poverty reduction as a priority because all Ontarians should have the opportunity to be at their best. This includes ensuring that the Province’s infrastructure helps to provide strong, healthy, and inclusive communities for Ontarians to live, work, and play.
The new Poverty Reduction Act, 2009, requires a provincial strategy, to be renewed at least every five years, and annual reporting on progress. As part of the poverty reduction strategy, the government has set a target of reducing the number of children living in poverty by 25 per cent over five years. This strategy will inform much of the work in the sector over the next several years. For example, the social service ministries are developing initiatives to transform and improve child welfare, developmental services, and children’s mental health. Such initiatives will help identify infrastructure priorities where possible.
Several other factors create a need for infrastructure investments in this sector:
While emergency shelters provide short-term relief to women fleeing domestic violence, the transition to independent life may need additional support. One concern is that the length of time spent in a shelter is increasing and now averages 27 days. This may be because of limited availability of affordable, transitional, and second-stage housing. As a result, several shelters are over capacity, with long waiting lists.
Another concern in the sector is the increasing number of adults with developmental disabilities, medical problems, or both, who entered children’s residential services early in their lives and are still living there because of lack of capacity in adult services.
Because many of the sector’s programs and services are delivered over the long term and through numerous agencies, information management is critical to ensure better outcomes. The next decade will see an increased focus on using technology to integrate information, manage risks, and increase efficiency.
Making Ontario accessible
People with disabilities regularly face barriers that prevent them from working, travelling in, and enjoying their communities. Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, the government is developing five accessibility standards to break down these barriers so that people of all ages and abilities can more easily live, work, and travel throughout the province. Ontario’s infrastructure will need to reflect these standards as they continue to be introduced.
The first standard to be implemented under the act — ensuring accessible customer service — is already in place for Ontario’s broader public sector.
Three additional standards were recently approved for information and communications, employment, and transportation. The final standard, related to the built environment, is currently under development. The built environment standard would reduce physical barriers for people with disabilities, both inside buildings and outdoors.
Making the province accessible by 2025 will help Ontario tap into the economic power of thousands of customers and visitors with disabilities and harness a larger, more diverse labour pool.
Working with agencies and municipalities over the next 10 years, the Province will:
Align infrastructure investments with innovative programs, services, and supports aimed at reducing poverty and enhancing outcomes.
Support the creation of community “hubs,” which could include a range of services located together.
Help women fleeing domestic violence move from shelters into affordable long-term housing, contributing to greater availability of much-needed shelter space.
Invest in bringing together disparate information sources and systems to provide better service throughout the sector.
Continue to undertake building condition assessments to set priorities for renewal of the facilities of community-based agencies and organizations.
In support of the 2025 accessibility goal, require all entities seeking provincial infrastructure funding for new buildings or major expansions/renovations to demonstrate how the funding will prevent or remove barriers and improve the level of accessibility where feasible.
The justice sector comprises numerous roles — policing, investigating, hearing and resolving court cases, sentencing, and incarcerating those convicted of crimes. Reflecting these roles:
The Province is responsible for the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), which provides policing services to municipalities on a contract basis as well as carrying out province-wide activities.
It also administers most of the civil and criminal courts in Ontario. Those facing criminal charges who are remanded in custody before the case is resolved are held in a provincial detention centre.
Convicted adult offenders who receive sentences of less than two years enter a provincial correctional facility, while longer sentences are served in the federal penitentiary system.
Since 2003, Ontario has improved the justice system with:
A new Durham Region Courthouse in Oshawa consolidating services from eight different locations
The Waterloo Region Consolidated Courthouse, Thunder Bay Consolidated Courthouse, Toronto South Detention Centre, South West Detention Centre, and Forensic Services and Coroner’s Complex, which are all under construction or about to start
An 18-project initiative to modernize OPP facilities, with a number of sites under construction
Procurement under way for the St. Thomas and Quinte consolidated courthouses
Widespread use of AFP approach for justice infrastructure
From the provincial perspective, two ministries manage most of Ontario’s justice-related infrastructure: the Attorney General, for courts; and Community Safety and Correctional Services, for the OPP and correctional facilities for adults.
Crime rates in Ontario have declined for several years, reflecting a number of factors. Through better collaboration among all justice partners, Ontario is working to create healthier neighbourhoods with better law enforcement and targeted investments to help reduce crime. The Province is supporting the fight against gun and gang violence, for example, by ensuring that police and crown attorneys have the resources they need to bring criminals to justice.
Turning to the future, over the next 20 years the size of the population aged 18 to 34 is projected to rise only slightly, from 3.1 million in 2011 to 3.4 million by 2031, but will decline as a share of the total population.
Chart 10 - Total Reported Crime Incidents per 100,000 Pupulation
This trend, in conjunction with crime-prevention programs, is expected to result in the continued decline of crime rates over time.
Other factors play important roles in determining the need for justice-related infrastructure. Over the next 10 years, for example, more municipalities are expected to contract with the OPP for policing service, in an effort to reduce costs. This would create an investment need because the Province is responsible for providing OPP infrastructure.
Several reforms are under way to reduce pressure on courthouse and detention centre infrastructure throughout the province. Through the Justice on Target initiative, for example, participants in the justice system are working together to reduce the number of unnecessary appearances and days to disposition.
Civil justice reforms that began to take effect in January 2010 have made it easier, faster, and less expensive to resolve disputes, while family justice reforms have simplified the steps involved for those cases that must go to court.
Chart 11 - Average Days to Disposition (Criminal Cases, 2010)*
Localized population growth, however, will result in courtroom pressures in some areas, as will other factors like the increasing complexity of some types of cases. Some new courtrooms will need to be added for both criminal and civil cases.
In justice, as in other sectors, increased use of technology could help improve service, lower costs, and reduce pressures on infrastructure needs. Ontario is already adopting technology in the justice sector with those goals in mind. There are opportunities to consider increasing the use of technology. For example, videoconferencing for routine bail and remand hearings could be utilized more extensively. While the intent of such technology would not specifically be to reduce pressures on infrastructure needs, this could be an additional benefit.
Across the province, there are considerable opportunities to bring together services and to deal with aging infrastructure. Providing a range of services close to one another can be very beneficial for streamlining processes and saving time for the courts and people who take part in the justice system.
Working with communities, the judiciary, and municipalities, over the next 10 years the Province will:
Continue to assess the use of existing assets and, where appropriate, rationalize inefficient assets to save costs. There are many older facilities with high maintenance costs. One goal would be to consolidate services from older facilities into a new facility while maintaining appropriate regional access. Another would be to repair and replace deficient facilities where warranted.
Continue the approach of strategically locating infrastructure to support a range of justice-related services at shared sites to save costs and improve service, as has been done successfully in other jurisdictions. Before moving ahead, the Province would consult with stakeholders.
Efficient and streamlined public services located in the right facilities offer greater convenience to citizens and cost savings for government. Achieving these goals depends on innovative technology, a move to a hub-based model of service delivery, and effective real estate planning.
Over the next decade, meeting increasingly high public expectations about the delivery of government services will rely on innovative information technology solutions, especially those provided over the internet.
Government service accomplishments
Since 2003, Ontario has improved services to the public through:
A new integrated Business Info Line with Industry Canada
Integrated centres for renewing health cards and driver’s licences
New online publication orders with a money-back service guarantee
Fully electronic land registration services and searches
A new data centre in Guelph, procured using the AFP approach
Investments to upgrade and maintain business-critical IT systems
This kind of technology allows government to function as a more integrated organization that can provide faster, “one-window” access in a variety of more convenient ways than the traditional model involving individual ministries.
ServiceOntario is a one-stop delivery network. More than 95 per cent of Ontarians are within 10 kilometres of one of Ontario’s 300 ServiceOntario offices, where they can access driver, vehicle, and health card services in one location. Ontarians can now use their mobile devices to locate the closest service location, find out its hours and the services it offers, and get on-the-spot directions. A number of services, such as obtaining birth, marriage and death certificates, newborn registration, change of home address, and streamlined access to services for businesses are available online, as well.
Meeting public expectations will also rely on a more strategic approach to the kinds of premises that government uses to provide different services. One important area will be the use of “hubs” that offer a range of services to the public. These hubs could bring together a range of services from all orders of government that residents need to access, as well as providing access to sets of services targeted to specific groups.
The government’s own accommodation strategy will depend on having the right mix of owned and leased accommodation to deliver services cost-effectively and reduce the accommodation footprint. For services delivered in person or through a kiosk, the focus would be on locations offering the greatest convenience to the public. At present, charges for accommodation are collected by the real estate arm of the government. There is an inadequate connection between charges and local market rates for the same kind of space. Creating such a linkage would encourage better decisions around staff location.
Digital solutions in the public sector
Digital infrastructure enables public sector bodies to use a wide range of services and solutions, such as videoconferencing; satellite mapping of infrastructure networks; and mobile applications to warn commuters of transit delays. It can also provide better health care, for example through enhancing diagnostic and treatment options.
Early investments by the Province helped to fund specialized next-generation networks in the public sector. One example is ORION, the Ontario science, research, and innovation broadband network that connects more than 1.7 million users.
An important element of digital information handling for government is ensuring security and safety of confidential data. The Guelph Data Centre, a LEED-certified facility, is a recent major long-term investment that will safeguard data and systems used to deliver government services.
To give Ontarians better access to government services and provide provincial workers with suitable work spaces, over the next 10 years Ontario will:
Act on a proposed 10-year vision set out by the Ministry of Government Services to increase efficiency in order to provide cost-effective and personalized customer service for Ontarians. This will require a coordinated strategy to integrate systems, digitally manage information, and enable anywhere, anytime connectivity.
Explore opportunities to create hubs in which specific groups of people can receive, simply and in one place, access to the range of services they need.
Use Infrastructure Ontario’s expertise in levering private sector investment to allow ServiceOntario to explore opportunities to expand its one-stop delivery network to other lines of business, including delivering services on behalf of other governments through partnerships.
Put in place a real estate framework that includes moving the amount charged to ministries for accommodation towards market rates, in order to help drive better decisions about how best to allocate space.