The Ontario Budget will be revealed in the Provincial Legislature on March 27. With the number of announcements made in the past few weeks, it becomes more evident how the Province plans to try to eliminate its $16 billion deficit and balance the budget by 2017-18.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan made it clear that one piece of the budget will be significant reductions in infrastructure spending in the coming years. This means that there will be less spending on roads and bridges and increased fees for businesses. The government is reviewing more than $2 billion worth of grants, tax credits and other direct subsidies for businesses that might be subject to cuts.
The Province is looking to rise revenue by increasing driver and vehicle license fees. The government has also announced plans to reform its Lottery and Gaming industry. This modernization includes ending Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) payments to race tracks, introducing multilane lottery sales at large retail outlets and opening new casinos, potentially including one in Toronto. Furthermore, 6,000 gaming positions will be moved to private sector operators, taking the number of gaming employees in the private sector to 100% from the current 60%. See the government press release here.
The minority Liberal government needs to be backed by at least two opposition members of the opposition to pass the upcoming budget and avoid the second election in five months. Liberals are expected to seek support from the NDP, who demand that the government delay already-scheduled cuts in the corporate tax rate, from 11.5 to 10 per cent. The Progressive Conservative Party supports the corporate tax cuts and had indicated earlier that it would not support the budget.
Overall, the provincial budget is expected to be “uniquely Liberal,” protecting core education and health care initiatives while withdrawing funding from other areas.