The fall economic update tabled this November 23 by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan was focused on delivering the government’s agenda and balancing the budget, while signalling a massive overhaul in the public service as the means to achieving this.
The Finance Minister ruled out “deep, arbitrary, across-the-board cuts”, as well as new tax cuts and large spending increases.
Instead, he indicated that Ontario will embark on fundamental reforms to the way government works, promising to get the best value and the best services for Ontarians. Government services will be opened up to competition, with the government inviting partnerships with the public, private and voluntary sectors.
The update reiterates that any new spending or unforeseen expenditures must come from savings in other areas. It also notes that the target set for holding growth in overall program spending to 1.4 per cent set in March will be revisited, given the early advice from the Drummond Commission to hold spending growth to one per cent.
The Minister confirmed that the government is proceeding with the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit for seniors, effective October 1, 2011. The cost will be financed through cuts in other areas.
The update also confirms the deficit will be $16 billion this fiscal year, slightly better than forecast in the March budget (but higher than predicted during the election). The deficit is expected to fall to $15.2 billion next year and $13.3 billion the year after.
Fall Economic Update – by the numbers:
- Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit will support $800 million in home renovation activity and 10,500 jobs annually, at cost of $60 million
- Unemployment rate: 8.1 per cent
- Expected growth in employment over 2012-2014: 1.3 per cent annually
- Accumulated provincial debt will climb to $189.1 billion by 2013/2014, from an actual of $144.6 billion in 2010/2011