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Financial accountability officer says Ontario’s Liberals blocking access to information

Stephen LeClair says he believes all the ministries are getting "political direction" because they all respond in a similar fashion



With the announcement of this year’s budget shortfall of $8.5-billion, Ontario will have run a budget deficit for eight consecutive years. PHOTO: 	Priscilla Jordão

With the announcement of this year’s budget shortfall of $8.5-billion, Ontario’s Liberal government will have run a budget deficit for eight consecutive years. PHOTO: Priscilla Jordão

TORONTO—Ontario’s financial accountability officer says the Liberal government is telling ministries to block information he needs to asses their budget forecasts and program costs.

Stephen LeClair says all the ministries argue that virtually any projection concerning future provincial revenue and spending is a cabinet record and can’t be released to him.

LeClair believes the ministries are getting “political direction” on how to interpret cabinet confidences, and says he doesn’t know the source or rationale for the directions to block his access to information.

He says the lack of information means he can’t tell if the Liberals’ plan to limit the growth in health spending to just 1.8 per cent annually can be achieved, or if Ontario will get $1.9 billion a year from cap-and-trade revenue as they forecast.

NDP finance critic Catherine Fife will introduce a private member’s bill to give the financial accountability officer the same powers as the auditor general to compel documents and information from government.

Progressive Conservative finance critic Vic Fedeli says it seems the only time the public can get the real information from the Liberal government is through a cabinet leak or an OPP criminal investigation.

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