Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he's meeting an important promise, after offering a fiscal update yesterday.
"My number one concern is protecting the people of Ontario and the small business owners that are just struggling like I've never seen," he said yesterday.
The premier is looking at a deficit of $38.5 billion dollars this year, but this includes $30 billion on COVID-19 measures.
From his perspective, Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips said there was still room, if the province needs to spend money in the fight against COVID-19
"We will make sure the resources are there, the supports are there, for our healthcare workers for everyone, and that's what today's fiscal update did. It's demonstrating that with the prudence we've shown, we're going to be able to have the resources if there's a second wave, or if there are more significant impacts on the economy," he said.
The minister is projecting a shortfall of close to $175 billion. The province's overall debt is close to $360 billion.
In May, Ontario's Financial Accountability Office said the deficit was expected to reach a record $41 billion this year, or four times what it was before the pandemic. The office added they expected the shortfall would drop almost in half for the 2021 and 2022 fiscal year. The report also said the provincial economy was expected to shrink -- not grow -- by a record nine per cent this year. However, they also predicted a rebound of 8.5 per cent for 2021.
In her comments yesterday, Opposition critic Sandy Shaw of the NDP said the government’s first-quarter fiscal update shows no money has been added to the education budget, and since April the government spent $218 million more on long-term care, which she said wasn't enough to build an iron ring around the province's long-term care facilities.
“Parents, teachers, education workers, students and school boards are imploring the government to fund smaller, safer classes — and the cost of failing to do that is unthinkable,” said Shaw in a prepared statement.
"The Ford government previously announced about $300 million – a completely inadequate amount — for their bargain basement back-to-school scheme, but that money doesn’t appear in the update released Wednesday," Shaw added.
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