Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario will struggle to balance books without cuts or taxes: report

Conference Board of Canada said province likely won't eliminate $12.5-billion deficit by 2017-18



TORONTO—The Conference Board of Canada is casting doubt on the Ontario government’s promise to balance the books in three years without more spending cuts or tax increases.

The board’s fiscal snapshot of Ontario says that a slowdown in revenue growth will likely mean Ontario can’t eliminate its $12.5-billion deficit by 2017-18 “despite its ambitious spending control plan.”

Matthew Stewart, an associate director, says the government will need to make “bolder policy choices” than its spending restraint plan as outlined in the budget.

The report says without more spending cuts or tax increases Ontario could fall $2.4 billion short of reaching its goal to balance the budget.

The conference board notes the province’s program spending increased by an annual average of 5.1 per cent over the last 10 years.

Ontario’s deficit for fiscal 2013-14 came in at $10.5 billion, $800 million lower than forecast, after a $1-billion reserve was used to offset lower-than-projected tax revenues and transfer payments from the federal government.

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