Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ontario Finance Minister Sousa to Balance Budget in 2017-2018? Some Skepticism

Is Ontario going to balance its budget in 2017-2018 like they promised? In the Ottawa Citizen, reporting on Sousa speaking to the Empire Club:

"Ontario’s economy is doing so well, thanks to our wise and prudent Liberal government, that our provincial government is going to balance its budget by next year and, er, delay its signature pension plan, Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Tuesday."

I'm a little skeptical of this considering without counting sales of Hydro One shares, Ontario's 2015-2016 budget deficit was around 8.5 billion. Now it is possible that the province could sell more shares in the 2017-2018 budget year to get to balance, although I would find that quite dubious.

On the other hand, the dollar being totally in the tank (with its effects on a moribund manufacturing sector and helping with reducing the tourism deficit) and gasoline prices being by modern levels, incredibly low has a strong stimulus effect on Ontario. Plus if the federal Liberals dole out a lot of stimulus spending in the 2017-2018 fiscal year that can only help provincial GDP.

However US GDP growth of late hasn't looked strong of late (and below 1% in the fourth quarter of last year) and any recession there between now and the 2017-2018 fiscal year would likely torpedo any chance of a balanced budget in Ontario. So wait and see.

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