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article imageOntario deficit falls to $13 billion, PCs call reduction charade

By Andrew Moran     Sep 13, 2012 in Politics
Toronto - Is it time to celebrate at Queen's Park? New budget figures show that the deficit in Ontario has shrunk by $3.3 billion to $13 billion, but the opposing Progressive Conservatives called the numbers a deception.
The province of Ontario’s deficit fell to $13 billion following original budget projections of $16.3 billion. The plan of the Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals is $3.3 billion and two years ahead of schedule, according to a news release.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said in the media release that the revision includes the New Democratic Party’s one percent surcharge on those making more than $500,000 that was agreed upon by the Grits in exchange for support over the budget.
“While economic growth has returned to Ontario, it is more modest than we would like, so strong action is necessary to eliminate the deficit. The McGuinty government will stay the course and continue to hit our fiscal targets,” stated Duncan. “If Ontario does not achieve its targets, the province risks paying more interest on debt instead of investing in what matters most to Ontarians — education, health care and job creation.”
The McGuinty government noted that the decline is 47 percent lower than the 2009-2010 deficit of $24.7 billion forecast and is at the lowest point of the worldwide recession. The provincial government also added that spending rose by 0.9 percent, which is the second-lowest in a decade.
Furthermore, revenues were $500 million more than in the 2011 budget forecast for a total of $109.8 billion. It used a $700 million reserve to pay down the deficit and spending on programs and the debt’s interest was $2.2 billion less than projections in last year’s budget.
“Eliminating the deficit is the single most important thing Ontario can do to strengthen our economy, create jobs and protect what Ontarians have worked hard to gain,” iterated the government.
Meanwhile, there are a number of political opponents who say the Liberals are predicting higher deficits just to make themselves look like they’re doing a good job when the final figures are brought in.
The Liberals are “gaming the numbers for their own political advantage,” said New Democrat Member of Provincial Parliament Gilles Bisson in an interview with the Globe and Mail.
Progressive Conservative finance critic Peter Shurman told the Toronto Sun that the deficit reduction is a charade and that the province still maintains a deficit larger than all of the other provinces combined – Quebec has the second highest deficit with $3.3 billion.
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