Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday April 12, 2019
Ontario tightens purse strings, PCs don’t plan to balance books until 2023-24
Ontario’s books won’t be balanced within the Progressive Conservatives’ mandate, but the government’s first budget serves up an era of gradual belt-tightening with a side of booze.
The Tories peg the current deficit at $11.7 billion, and they don’t expect to eliminate the red ink until 2023-24. Drastic and widespread cuts that many had feared did not materialize in this budget, but the path to balance shows that much of the heavy lifting comes at the halfway mark to the next election, and after it.
The budget constrains spending growth – and shows cuts in post-secondary and social services – but is still nearly $5 billion larger than the last budget from the previous Liberal government, who the Progressive Conservatives often slam for their spending habits.
“We have developed a reasonable path to balance,” Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said. “Our path to balance in five years is a thoughtful and a measured approach to take … Our entire premise is to protect what matters most.”
The budget contains no new taxes. In addition to tackling the deficit, the government is also taking aim at the net debt – currently pegged at $343 billion – through ensuring surpluses and unused reserve or contingency funds go to paying it down.
As well, planned legislation would require the government to develop a debt burden reduction strategy, and make the premier and finance minister pay 10 per cent of their salaries for each missed reporting deadline for documents such as the budget and quarterly economic accounts. (Source: Global News)