Ontario to slip into the red for first time in four years: finance minister
17 hours ago
TORONTO — Ontario's Liberal government will run a $500-million deficit and slip into the red for the first time in four years rather than slash services as the province struggles with dwindling revenues amid a global economic crisis.
In his fall economic update Wednesday, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Ontario would delay the hiring of 9,000 nurses and 50 family health teams, and defer some school repairs, in what he called "a balanced response to today's global reality."
"We will delay the implementation of and slow down some new spending, while at the same time restraining internal government spending," Duncan said.
"Together, these restraint measures will result in more than $100 million in savings in the five months remaining in the 2008-09 fiscal year."
Duncan revised this year's growth figures from the 1.1 per cent projected in the spring budget to 0.1 per cent.
Total revenue is projected to decrease by $918 million from the 2008 budget forecast, while total expenses are expected to increase by $132 million.
The gloomy economic forecast nationally has been heightened in Ontario by a manufacturing sector bleeding jobs in the wake of a U.S. economic downturn.
In contrast, Saskatchewan announced Tuesday the biggest single-year tax reduction in its history on the back of an economic boom. Premier Brad Wall even visited Ontario last month, hoping to woo laid-off workers to his province.
B.C.'s finance minister, who was to deliver that province's economic statement later Wednesday, has said he's expecting spending increases in his next budget based on higher than predicted revenues from natural gas and drilling rights.
Ontario cannot spend its way out of current difficulties, but cannot afford to make irresponsible cuts to programs and services, Duncan said.
The alternative to a deficit, he added, "would be deep cuts to the very programs and services that are...