Duncan revises Ontario deficit downward by $449M

October 15, 2012 - All News

Ontario’s deficit is slowly declining, but the minority Liberals need opposition support to keep things trending in the right direction, says Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.
Duncan on Monday tabled the fall economic statement with a revised deficit for this fiscal year of $14.4 billion — $449 million less than previously estimated.
“Despite ongoing global economic uncertainty, Ontario is ahead of its targets for lowering the deficit for the fourth year in a row,” the treasurer said, adding the books should be balanced by 2017-18.
“We will work with anyone who is willing to work with us to meet the objectives of eliminating the deficit and protecting jobs and public services,” he told the legislature as he tabled the mid-year update.
“This is a minority parliament so the government needs to support from one of the opposition parties.”
That’s a reference to Duncan’s need for backing from either the Progressive Conservatives or the New Democrats to extend a two-year wage freeze to an additional 481,000 public servants.
“The NDP said: ‘no’ and have nothing to offer as an alternative. The PCs said: ‘yes, but only if you tear up collective agreements.’ We disagree with this approach,” he said.
But Duncan said “the door opened by the PCs is the only door available to us in this minority government so we will continue talking with the PCs while we also look to options outside of the legislature.”
That suggests the government will continue dealing with labour union leaders directly on the need for a freeze.
The minister stressed such measures are needed to save $2.8 billion over the next three years in salary hikes to everyone from bureaucrats to nurses.
Pay has already been frozen for teachers, college instructors, and other public servants.
In Monday’s statement, he said 2012-13 revenues are projected to be $113 billion — $445 million higher than forecast in the March budget.
Expenditures for this fiscal year are anticipated to be $126.4 billion plus the $1 billion in reserve funds. That’s $3.7 million less than anticipated.
The ministry is expected real gross domestic product growth of 2 per cent in 2012, 1.9 per cent next year before rebounding to 2.3 per cent in 2014 and 2.4 per cent the year after that.
— Torstar News Service