Ontario's deficit shrinks to $13B 0
Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan at Queen's Park, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. (ANTONELLA ARTUSO/Toronto Sun)
Ontario’s deficit has shrunk to $13 billion after initial budget projections of $16.3 billion proved overly pessimistic.
The projected deficit was dropped to $15.3 billion in March.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said his government is two years ahead of its plan to balance the books.
“But I’m not prepared to shorten the time to balance yet (currently pegged at 2017-18) given the uncertainty in the global economy,” Duncan said Thursday, as he released the Public Accounts of Ontario for 2011-12.
Duncan said he’s also not willing to open up the public wallet for public sector compensation demands.
Even if unions such as those representing teachers are ultimately successful in challenging his government’s restraint legislation in court, any additional costs would need to come out of existing budgets and would likely mean layoffs, he said.
“This is a choice that governments make — we choose to keep people working,” Duncan said. “We’ve not funded these pay increases and so organizations will be faced with (job cuts).”
NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said the Liberals are “gaming” the numbers - projecting higher deficits so that they appear to be good money managers when the real figure is lower than expected.
Progressive Conservative finance critic Peter Shurman called the reduction a sham and pointed out even at the lower number, Ontario’s deficit is still larger than that of all the provinces combined.
Quebec’s deficit is the next largest at $3.3 billion.
“Duncan and (Premier Dalton) McGuinty can do a dance and celebrate,” Shurman said. “Our view is we have a real problem.”
Public Accounts show that taxation revenue — at $75.6 billion — was down slightly over projections, and that the government took in $109.8 billion in total revenue.
The provincial government spent $122.7 billion — less than projected — but still $13 billion more than came in.