Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa has announced he will introduce the first budget of the Premier Wynne’s government on May 2.
The Minister indicated that the budget will include the government’s plan to balance the budget and therefore eliminate the $9.8-billion deficit by 2017-18; tying more government programs to income; maintaining corporate taxes at their current rate and keeping program spending growth under the projected rate of economic expansion. The government might also detail some of its plan for paying for Ontario’s aging transportation infrastructure.
Minister Sousa also indicated that other parties’ ideas will be incorporated in the fiscal plan. While Progressive Conservatives (PCs) have already stated they will not support the budget, New Democrats have demanded five budget concessions, including a cut to auto insurance premiums and shorter waiting times for home care.
There is an indication that the budget might bring some good news to the real estate industry. Earlier this month, Liberal MPP from Scarborough Soo Wong recommended the government include in the budget an amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000 that will delete the exclusion of the electronic agreement of purchase and sale from the Act and provide full legal protection to the agreements. The recommendation is taken directly from the private member`s bill (Bill 28 ) introduced by PC MPP Todd Smith earlier this spring. OREA has worked with Mr. Smith on the introduction on the bill, which already passed second reading.
The minority Liberals need the support of at least two opposition MPPs in order to pass the budget and avoid a summer election. However it might be a while before we learn if the province is heading into the election. The budget motion that will be introduced on May 2 requires eight hours of debate within 12 days since tabling before MPPs could vote on it and potentially defeat the government. Considering the current legislative calendar, the vote could happen as late as May 30, placing the election date into mid-summer.
Meanwhile, the latest Ipsos Reid poll released April 25 indicates that Liberals are trailing behind both opposition parties. If the provincial election were held immediately, 37 per cent of voters would support Progressive Conservatives while just 29 per cent would support the NDP and 28 per cent would support the Liberals.