Finance minister says Ontario budget could come early due to upcoming election
Ontario’s finance minister Charles Sousa says the provincial election on June 7 creates a condensed timeline to deliver the spending plan, and ensure legislative watchdogs and residents can properly examine it.
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Ontario’s finance minister has launched a series of public consultations to develop this year’s provincial budget, which he suggests will be delivered earlier than usual because of the upcoming election.
Charles Sousa did not provide an exact date for the budget during a press conference Monday, but said the provincial election — set for June 7 — creates a condensed timeline for the government to deliver the spending plan and ensure legislative watchdogs and Ontario residents can properly examine it.
“I know we’re going to be as advanced and open in terms of what we are doing for the benefit of the Auditor General and the (Financial Accountability Officer),” Sousa said. “Now, because of the election ... those timelines are constrained, but I want to provide as much information as possible so that everyone can be aware of what is being proposed and what’s being done.”
The annual pre-budget consultations will take place across the province. The government said that last year, approximately 71,000 took part in the sessions.
Residents’ ideas for the budget can also be sent in by mail, email or fax by Feb. 9.
Sousa confirmed last fall that Ontario’s 2018 budget will be balanced — as will budgets over the next two years.
The finance minister said he doesn’t see the spending package as an “election budget” but a plan for future generations.
“Every budget is long-term in scope,” he said. “You have to go beyond the election cycles when you’re preparing a budget. I don’t see things on a quarter-by-quarter basis. I look at ensuring I have sufficient revenue to accommodate those very year-end activities but at the same time I have to plan for the future.”
Sousa was tight-lipped on the specifics of the budget but said it will in part address uncertainty around the on-going re-negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“We have uncertainty in the marketplace,” he said. “With discussions around NAFTA ... we want to provide calm and understanding as to what that means for the province of Ontario as we move forward.”
Last year, the provincial government delivered its budget on April 27.
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