Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday November 17, 2018
Ford government’s 1st fiscal update shows Ontario cut deficit to $14.5B
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government says it has cut the province’s deficit by $500 million, bringing the figure down to $14.5 billion in its first few months in office.
The change is announced in the government’s Fall Economic Statement for 2018-2019, its first major fiscal update since winning the spring election.
“The fiscal hole is deep,” Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said in presenting the document to the legislature on Thursday afternoon. “The road ahead is not an easy one and will require difficult decisions. Everyone across the province will be required to make sacrifices, without exception.”
The government said it has made progress on cutting the deficit by finding $3.2 billion in efficiencies in operations, including a hiring freeze across the public service.
The belt-tightening measures laid out also include rolling the positions of three independent officers — the environmental commissioner, the child and youth advocate and the French language services commissioner — into the offices of the auditor general or the provincial ombudsman.
Government staff could not say what will happen to those working in the eliminated offices, but Premier Doug Ford has consistently promised that no jobs would be lost as a result of his cost-cutting.
Plans for a French-language university have also been cancelled, though the government could not immediately say how much money the move would save.
Though it is spending less, the government said it is also taking in $2.7 billion less in revenue in the fiscal year — including $1.5 billion attributed to the cancellation of cap and trade.
More than $300,000 in lost revenue is attributed to cancelling planned tax increases, including one that would have raised taxes for small businesses, the document says.
The Tories had said the previous Liberal government left a $15 billion deficit, a figure disputed by critics, who said it includes spending promised by the Liberals but cancelled by the current regime.
While the document mentions returning the province’s budget to balance, it does not spell out how long it will take to achieve that goal. (Source: CTV News)