Ontario Budget 2024 – What Engineers Need to Know

Ontario’s Minister of Finance, the Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy, unveiled Ontario’s 2024 Budget: “Plan to Build a Better Ontario” on March 26. OSPE had the privilege of participating in the government’s pre-budget consultation process. We have reviewed the budget and are excited that numerous key recommendations advocated for, on behalf of Ontario’s Engineers, by OSPE were incorporated.

Ontario’s 2024 Budget focused on two pillars: 

  1. Building Ontario 
  2. Working for you 

In 2024, Ontario’s economic growth is expected to remain sluggish due to high-interest rates, with real GDP growth projected at 0.3%, down from previous estimates. Employment growth is also slowing, projected at 0.8%, with geopolitical tensions posing further risks to economic stability. To address this uncertainty, the Ministry of Finance has developed scenarios to correspond with multiple potential economic trajectories. 

Regarding fiscal planning, the government aims to balance prudence with flexibility. The 2024 budget forecasts a deficit of $3.0 billion for 2023–24, with deficits expected in the following years before reaching a surplus in 2026–27. Revenues are slightly lower than previously forecast, primarily due to declines in taxation revenue and federal transfers. Despite targeted investments, total expenses are projected to increase, leading to a higher net debt-to-GDP ratio, though it remains below the government’s target. 

OSPE has identified the following aspects of the 2024 Budget that hold the highest relevance for our members and the engineering community: 


  1. Ontario plans to invest over $190 billion in infrastructure over the next decade, focusing on highways, transit, housing, and internet connectivity to stimulate economic growth. The initiative includes allocating $1 billion to the Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program and increasing the Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund to $825 million. Key highway projects like Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass will be advanced, while existing highways such as Highway 401 and Highway 7 will be expanded. Interchanges in Windsor, Ottawa, and other areas will also be improved.
  2. The province aims to enhance transit services, including GO train and bus systems, light rail transit connections, and subway projects like the Ontario Line. The Northlander passenger rail service will be reinstated to serve Northern Ontario. 


Responsible Allocation of Resources: We commend the inclusion of funding for infrastructure projects in the Ontario budget, recognizing it as a worthwhile and sustainable community investment. However, we urge the government to prioritize prudent spending and make tough choices when prioritizing these projects due to constrained talent resources (availability of engineering services and skilled tradespeople). It is crucial that infrastructure implementation decisions are based on  evidence-based assessments, and consider the needs of various regions, Indigenous groups. Engineers should be consulted to minimize environmental impacts and maximize the economic and social benefits of these projects. 

Water Infrastructure: As highlighted in our pre-budget submission, we applaud the allocation of funds towards enhancing the Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund. This investment plays a vital role in modernizing water treatment and distribution systems, bolstering Ontario’s resilience against emerging challenges, and elevating water quality standards. Moreover, the emphasis on stormwater management and water conservation aligns perfectly with our commitment to sustainable engineering practices and the mitigation of the impacts of climate change. 

Infrastructure Projects Framework: We appreciate the commitment to developing a clear and transparent framework in Ontario for prioritizing, sequencing, and funding infrastructure projects. Collaboration among all levels of government, industry stakeholders, community organizations, and other relevant parties is essential in creating a framework that ensures the efficient allocation of resources and maximizes the benefits of infrastructure investments. 

Prioritizing Expertise in Project Selection: We wholeheartedly support the adoption of a Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) framework to ensure transparency and maximize value in public infrastructure investments. As we have been advocating, by prioritizing expertise in project selection, the government can ensure that infrastructure projects provide the highest return on investment and deliver long-term benefits at a reasonable cost.  This is a significant part of ensuring high value for money on these infrastructure investments and will reduce both overall project costs and delays.

Circular Economy: We recommend inclusion of investments in sustainable practices like excess soil and aggregate reuse to minimize environmental impact and promote resource efficiency in infrastructure development. 

Affordable Housing Solutions 

  1. In response to Ontario’s housing crisis, the provincial government is projecting to construct a minimum of 1.5 million homes by 2031. Key initiatives include the introduction of the New Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program, the Building Faster Fund to incentivize municipalities, and the enhancement of the Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund
  2. The 2024 budget includes addressing the housing supply crisis by rewarding municipalities for meeting their housing targets with funding from the three-year, $1.2 billion Building Faster Fund. Additionally, a new $200 million Community Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Fund has been launched to strengthen communities across Ontario by investing in new and upgraded sport, recreation, and community facilities. 


Responsible Research and Development in Affordable Housing: The fast-paced nature of housing construction projects under these initiatives may warrant expedited timelines and decision-making processes, potentially increasing the risk of overlooking important engineering considerations such as environmental impact assessments and infrastructure resilience. Overall, while the government’s initiatives offer opportunities for the engineering community to contribute to addressing the housing crisis, careful planning, coordination and oversight will be essential to mitigating potential challenges and ensure successful outcomes. 

Public Infrastructure Modernization: We support the allocation of funds over three years for critical repairs to essential infrastructure. This initiative enhances safety and facilitates the modern delivery of government services. Additionally, we commend the government’s efforts to repurpose surplus properties for productive use, focusing on projects such as attainable housing and other social infrastructure. By generating revenue from surplus government properties and reducing liabilities, this initiative not only relieves the burden on taxpayers but also supports vital priorities such as attainable housing and social infrastructure development. 

Affordable Housing Infrastructure: We applaud the decision to double the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund and expand high-speed internet access, both of which were recommendations we made in our pre-budget submission. Furthermore, we recommend funding for essential infrastructure to support affordable housing, encompassing utilities, transportation, and community facilities. This investment will establish a sturdy foundation for affordable housing initiatives, fostering sustainable and inclusive community growth.  There should also be a mechanism in place to ensure that any cost savings for building housing is passed onto the home owner.

Green Energy Transition

  1. In support of Ontario’s mining sector, the government is investing $15 million over three years in the Critical Minerals Innovation Fund to enhance research and development efforts. This initiative aims to accelerate innovation in the exploration, extraction, and processing of critical minerals, particularly in the northern region of Ontario, including the Ring of Fire. Furthermore, the Northern Energy Advantage Program (NEAP) is being increased to a total of $167 million in 2024–25, and $206 million annually in 2025–26 and 2026–27. This program is designed to assist eligible large industrial operators in Northern Ontario in managing electricity costs.
  2. The government remains committed to investing in a clean energy future, crucial for fostering competitiveness and facilitating the transition to a cleaner economy. These efforts are particularly vital as Ontario seeks investments in manufacturing, mining, electric vehicles, and batteries.
  3. In July 2023, the government unveiled Powering Ontario’s Growth: Ontario’s Plan for a Clean Energy Future, outlining pragmatic actions to meet the escalating electricity demand. The plan prioritizes investments in nuclear energy while ensuring affordability for residents and businesses. It includes initiatives for new zero-emissions electricity generation, storage, and transmission lines to deliver reliable, low-cost, and clean power to households and industries. Natural gas-fired generation will continue to support electricity demand and system reliability during the transition period.


While Ontario’s Critical Minerals Strategy offers opportunities for engineers to contribute to economic development and technological advancement, it also requires careful planning, environmental stewardship, and respectful collaboration with Indigenous communities to navigate potential challenges and ensure sustainableoutcomes.

In seeking budgetary support for the transition to green energy, OSPE recommends strategic investments in renewable energy projects, energy storage solutions, and a sustainable energy grid. These initiatives would aim to advance environmental sustainability while safeguarding consumer interests and ensuring a reliable energy supply for Ontario.

Nuclear Energy: OSPE celebrates strategic investments in nuclear energy technology, including both large-scale nuclear plants and Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). These investments ensure a reliable and sustainable power source, while public awareness efforts address concerns regarding nuclear waste disposal.

Optimal Net-Zero Supply Mix: In our pre-budget submission we proposed funding to explore an optimal net-zero supply mix that balances cost-effectiveness, reliability, and environmental sustainability. This initiative aims to ensure that supply mixes do not impose an unfair burden on consumer electricity bills, facilitating a transition to clean energy sources without undue financial strain.

Grid Modernization and Resilience: OSPE recommends investing in the modernization of the energy grid to accommodate the integration of renewable energy sources. supports the transition to a sustainable and resilient energy landscape, ensuring effective management of electricity flow and rapid response to outages.

Energy Efficiency Programs: We propose allocating resources to energy efficiency programs that promote responsible energy use and reduce overall consumption. By investing in these programs, Ontario can lower energy costs, diminish its environmental impact, and contribute to long-term sustainability goals.

Thermal Energy: We recommend investments in thermal energy solutions to optimize energy efficiency and minimize environmental impact. Capturing and utilizing thermal energy can significantly enhance sustainable energy practices in Ontario.

Employment and Education

  1. The Skills Development Fund Training Stream is bolstering efforts to overcome challenges in workforce hiring, training, and retention by allocating an extra $100 million in 2024–25. This funding aims to assist workers, including apprentices and job seekers, in acquiring the necessary skills to progress in their careers. This supplement adds to the existing investment of over $860 million since its inception in 2021.
  2. The government is allocating $7.3 million from the Skills Development Fund to assist Indigenous workers throughout Northern Ontario. This investment will finance eight training projects designed to prepare approximately 1,700 workers for employment opportunities in key sectors such as forestry, construction, and healthcare.
  3. To be responsive to increasing labour market demands for workers in sectors related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the government has provided one-time funding of $100 million in 2023–24 to support STEM program costs at publicly assisted colleges and universities with enrolments above their funded levels.


Bridging Program for Internationally Trained Engineers: Dedicated resources in the budget should support comprehensive programs facilitating the integration of internationally trained engineers into the Ontario workforce. This investment addresses challenges related to skills recognition, language proficiency, and industry adaptation, ensuring a smooth assimilation process for these professionals to address the engineering skills shortage.

Support for STEM Education: As we advocated for in our pre-budget submission, we applaud the allocation of funding to STEM education programs to nurture a proficient workforce and meet the rising demand for engineers. This investment aims to enhance STEM education initiatives, fostering the development of a highly skilled workforce capable of addressing the growing need for engineering professionals.

Indigenous Bridging Program for Mining and Critical Minerals Projects: OSPE celebrates the strategic investment in initiatives fostering Indigenous participation in engineering careers, particularly in the mining and critical minerals sector. Educational outreach, mentorship opportunities, and partnerships with industry stakeholders will encourage Indigenous youth to pursue engineering careers and actively participate in resource development projects. This investment promotes diversity in the engineering field, sustainable resource development, and economic prosperity. This is a message OSPE has been delivering for a few years now, and we are glad to see it recognized in this budget.

Support for Professional Development: Increased funding for engineers’ continuous professional development programs, workshops, and training opportunities is crucial. This investment ensures engineers remain current with industry advancements, empowering them to acquire the latest skills and knowledge essential for success in a rapidly evolving industry. This will also help to address the productivity gap and make Ontario more competitive.

Emerging Technologies

Ontario’s advanced research computing (ARC) facilities will receive an additional $18 million investment over three years from the Ontario government. This funding aims to support ongoing operations and maintenance of ARC systems across the province, ensuring they meet the storage and computational needs for research, particularly in areas like artificial intelligence (AI). Additionally, $47.4 million is allocated for the infrastructure refresh of aging ARC systems at the University of Toronto (the Niagara Supercomputer) and University of Waterloo (the Graham Supercomputer).


This access allows engineers to conduct complex simulations, analyze large datasets, and develop innovative solutions more efficiently. With improved ARC systems, engineers can enhance their research capabilities, accelerate the development of new technologies, and contribute to advancements in critical engineering fields such as electric vehicles, clean technologies, and quantum computing.

In advocating for enhanced funding for research and development initiatives in engineering and emerging technologies, OSPE recommended investments in various areas to promote innovation and competitiveness in the province.

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) highlights the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures in an increasingly interconnected world, emphasizing investments in cybersecurity infrastructure, advanced technologies, and AI applications to combat evolving cyber threats. Additionally, OSPE advocates for funding educational programs promoting AI and cybersecurity awareness, along with initiatives for ethical AI development. Concerning data governance and privacy, OSPE recommends investment in legislation addressing privacy concerns related to smart technologies, aiming to establish robust frameworks and ethical guidelines for data usage.

In cleantech, OSPE suggests investing in Decentralized Wastewater Treatment (DWWT) for cost-efficient and resilient wastewater treatment solutions, while also proposing investment in innovative carbon capture projects to combat climate change and contribute to global carbon neutrality efforts.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

  1. Ontario is prioritizing equitable access to education for all students, including those with disabilities and special education needs. To support this commitment, the government plans to invest $18 million in the 2024–25 school year, aimed at assisting the most vulnerable students. This investment encompasses $8 million allocated for dedicated resources to aid students with special education needs alongside $10 million designated for heightened in-class supports for students with the most significant needs.
  2. Additional funding is earmarked for the Ontario Human Rights Commission to combat discrimination and promote human rights.
  3. The government intends to bolster its investment in the Ontario Autism Program by $120 million in 2024–25, marking a doubling of the increase provided in the preceding fiscal year.


Allocating funds to support students with special needs in Ontario promotes diversity and . By investing in resources and support systems for these students, Ontario can build a more inclusive and diverse engineering workforce for the future.

Additionally, promoting human rights and fighting discrimination aligns with engineers’ ethical responsibilities. Supporting equity and inclusion in education creates a fairer society and encourages social responsibility among engineering professionals.

Investing in STEM programs is crucial for expanding Ontario’s talent pool, strengthening the workforce, and diversifying innovation. These programs can address important provincial issues and should involve input from neurodiverse specialists to fully unleash participants’ potential. Their unique perspectives and strengths can enhance innovation and problem-solving in STEM. By supporting such individuals, Ontario can diversify its workforce and innovation portfolio, leading to more creative and effective solutions for provincial challenges.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion through Public Procurement: We encourage leveraging public procurement to promote diversity and inclusion in engineering. By requesting firms to disclose their diversity and inclusion initiatives as part of the bid process, the government can support greater equity without compromising quality or increasing costs. This will also open doors to a new group of job seekers to address the skills shortage in the infrastructure sector. This initiative also aligns with our commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in engineering practices. 

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