The FAO (Financial Accountability Office) put out their latest provincial budget outlook last week.
This Economic and Budget Outlook report provides the FAO’s projection of the Ontario government’s fiscal position over the 2022-23 to 2026-27 period.
In it, they show the deficit for this year being ~2.5B vs the more than 12B stated by the government in its Fall update.
Interestingly, a great deal of this has to do with under-spending, rather than higher revenues.
But also of note, the report couldn't have included January's employment data which was much stronger than anticipated, and likely means, barring very steep downtown turn this month or next, that revenues will be higher than the FAO anticipates.
I assume the following:
1) The government is either approaching or will reach a balanced budget this fiscal year.
2) I doubt they actually want that, I imagine a last minute flurry of spending announcements are due. I don't know that, nor can I state what they may be (though I'm hearing some things about what Ministries have been told to cost out)
3) I imagine the last minute spending flurry moves us back into the red, though not as deeply as stated in the fall.
I would argue for actually balancing the budget this year, (for the fiscal year just coming to an end) and only adding some additional dollars to bail out cities for Covid for the current and coming fiscal years.
For next year, however, I would really like to prioritize increasing Ontario Works in a significant way to help ease the burdens on the most disadvantaged.
An increase of $300 per month would cost roughly 1.8B per year; while easing the claw-backs for those who fine work would cost perhaps another 400M net (more gross, but a chunk of that is returned as income tax and higher rent-geared-to-income) .
It would also be good to see a proper, thoughtful, investment in hospitals, in mental healthcare and in enhanced access to prescription drugs w/o money being a barrier; we obviously also need money for affordable housing and transit expansion as well.