April 22nd, 2024

Ontario deficit ballooning to $9.8B next year amid slow economic growth

By The Canadian Press on March 26, 2024.

Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy listens to Ontario Premier Doug Ford speak after touring the Oakville Stamping and Bending Limited facility in Oakville, Ont., on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO – Ontario is delaying its path to balance as lethargic economic growth drags the province’s books further into the red, with a $9.8-billion budget deficit projected for the coming fiscal year.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy is acknowledging the challenging economic times, saying life has rarely been this expensive, but the budget he is presenting today contains few new affordability measures.

The deficit for 2024-25 is almost double what the province projected in the fall economic update, which had also eyed a return to surplus the following year ““ but Bethlenfalvy now says that surplus will not happen until 2026-27.

The $214.5-billion budget forecasts real GDP growth of just 0.3 per cent in 2024, and Bethlenfalvy says he has made a choice to increase the deficit rather than cutting spending or raising taxes or fees for Ontarians.

New money in the budget includes an additional $2 billion over three years for home and community care, a $200-million community sport and recreation infrastructure fund and more money for autism therapies.

As well, the province is planning auto insurance reforms, putting money toward four police helicopters for Greater Toronto Area forces, and supporting a new York University medical school focused on training family doctors.

More coming.

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