Strong Government Action Boosts Economy, Reduces Deficit

Published on February 15, 2019

Strong Government Action Boosts Economy, Reduces Deficit

It has now been just over 7 months since the election and I would like to update you on the state of Ontario’s finances.

Our government continues to make progress when it comes to restoring Ontario’s fiscal health. With the release of Ontario’s third quarter report, we now know that the deficit stands at $13.5 billion – a $1 billion improvement since our last update in November.

As you’ll recall, Ontario inherited a $15 billion deficit from the previous Liberal government. To illustrate the dire circumstances we inherited, the Government of Ontario under former Premier Wynne spent $40 million more a day than what was brought in – roughly $900 of debt for every man, woman, and child.

Interest payments have now become the fourth largest line item in the budget. We spend triple the amount servicing our debt than we do on Post-Secondary education. This is cause for concern because every dollar that goes to interest payments is one less dollar going to the vital public services we rely on, including healthcare and education.

In six short months, we have managed to find $3.2 billion in savings across government, delivered $2.7 billion in tax relief to Ontario families, individuals and businesses, and canceled millions in planned tax hikes.

Our government continues to pursue an ‘Open for Business’ and ‘Open for Jobs’ approach. We are restoring business confidence by cutting taxes, lowering hydro rates, and reducing the mountain of regulations and red tape. Our plan is helping to foster new jobs and opportunities, so companies can compete and prosper, and the economy can grow. In fact, after reducing Corporate Taxes to level the playing field with our neighbours, we have seen increased investment in Ontario which has resulted in increased Corporate Tax revenue as Q3 highlights show.

Today’s third quarter report confirms we are on the right track and that our plan is working. Our government’s decisive actions have led to a strong economic performance that has helped improve Ontario’s overall fiscal health.

At the same time, our government continues to make life easier for Ontarians. We introduced one of the most generous tax credits in a generation for low-income workers – the Low-income Individuals and Families Tax Credit. Those who earn $30,000 or less will pay no personal Ontario income tax on their 2019 return. We eliminated the punishing cap-and-trade carbon tax, saving the average household $260 a year and 4.3 cents per litre at the gas pumps. We froze hunting and fishing licence fees, and families can fish for free on Family Day weekend.

Locally, we’ve seen a significant investment of $1.74 million in Campbellford Memorial Hospital – the largest in a decade; additional acute care beds at Northumberland Hills Hospital; long-term care funding for Golden Plough and Pleasant Manor; Trillium funding for our Transition House; just under $1 million in transit funding; and a regulation change that preserved the jobs at the Cobourg and Port Hope Police Services Unit allowing them to continue to improve policing and vital partnerships within the community.

All this being said, we cannot rest on our laurels. A $13.5 billion deficit still leaves Ontario vulnerable to global headwinds and economic shocks. We must continue to drive efficiencies in government, make life more affordable, and grow our economy.

As our government develops the 2019 budget, we remain focused on putting Ontario back on a responsible, pragmatic path towards balancing the budget and making our Province the best place for businesses to thrive, grow, and create good jobs.

David Piccini is the MPP for Northumberland – Peterborough South, Member of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.