Ontario budget promises new spending, multi-year deficits

Cheryl Sanders
March 30, 2018

Improved access to child care gives parents, especially women, more choice about when they return to work and will help Ontario close the gender wage gap.

The premier said Ford's proposed cuts could cost 40,000 public servants their jobs, according to one economist's estimate.

This week's Liberal budget saw the government reverse a key promise to stay in balance and instead project a deficit of $6.7 billion in 2018-2019, followed by deficits of $6.6 billion and $6.5 billion in each of the subsequent years.

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While much of the big-ticket spending was announced prior to the budget, the fiscal blueprint builds on a pledge mentioned in last week's throne speech: a drug and dental-care program for people without existing coverage. Ford argues that the government can not take care of people when it is billions of dollars in debt.

He said he is happy to see $500 million over three years in the budget to enhance broadband in northern and rural communities.

"While we would have appreciated a greater focus on the organizations that deliver these services, the budget does invest significant amounts in the sector that will help address a number of its challenges in serving people with disabilities and seniors", Annett said. "Yes, it's left - it left a lot of people out".

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The new program, which the government says will cover 125,000 preschoolers, would require the government to fund the cost of full-day, licensed child care once a child turns two-and-a-half and would continue until they become eligible for kindergarten-between the age of four and five.

The government pledged millions to expand its OHIP Plus pharma-care program which now covers drug costs for youth and will eventually extend to seniors as well.

Despite adding several new high-profile programs, the budget does not include any new major revenue streams.

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Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Progressive Conservative MPP Bill Walker said the 2018-19 financial blueprint includes "binge-spending" created to keep Premier Kathleen Wynne in power, while plunging Ontario back into deficit. The government says that in 2018, 8.6 million individuals would pay roughly the same tax, but 1.8 million people would pay approximately $200 more.

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