The Province of Ontario’s Financial Watchdog said Thursday that Ontario’s progressive conservative government is not transparent about how the money will be spent over the next few years.
A report from the Financial Accountability Office said current government spending plans consisted of a $40 billion shortfall in project funding over the past six years, although there was no emergency fund. Received an allocation of 44 billion dollars.
Financial responsibility Peter Weltman said commitments could be used to address those shortfalls. But this is an unusual budgeting method.
“What we have never seen is this level of scarcity. But we have never seen an emergency fund like this before,” he said.
“This is unusual. We’ve seen huge emergency funds during the pandemic. because we don’t know And no one really knows what will happen So it’s a good idea to save some money, but it’s not normal to throw this huge sum of money right now. because of things It appears to be stable.”
in general The emergency fund will be about $1 billion a year, not 8 funds, Weltman said.
“Is it a transparent budgeting method? I really don’t believe that,” he said.
Minister of Finance said ‘This is an extremely uncertain time.’
Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said there were still many factors ahead that needed to set aside some funds, such as the impact of the war in Ukraine and rising interest rates.
“These are extremely uncertain times. And that’s why it’s always prudent to make sure we have an emergency ready. so that we can face any challenges we may have,” he said.
Liberal finance critic Stephanie Bowman called government accounting “disappointing,” but not surprising.
“In my opinion They are doing that because it gives the impression that we don’t have the money to pay education and healthcare for the money they deserve,” Bowman said.
nurse, education staff and other government employees It has called on the government to repeal a law called Bill 124, which limits salary increases for those workers to one percent per year for three years in 2019.
Many unions have challenged the law as unconstitutional. And if the court overturns the law and is revoked, the FAO said in a report last month it could cost the province $8.4 billion in damages over five years, including a potential $2.1 billion in retroactive payments.
NDP finance critic Catherine Fife called the budgeting “a daunting task”. It was “irresponsible” and said it showed the government should spend more on healthcare.
Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said it was not transparent.
“The $40 billion emergency fund basically tells the people of Ontario, ‘We’re not going to tell you how we’re going to spend your tax dollars,’ he said. “People deserve better than that.”
The FAO also stated that There is a budget surplus in the province in the near future. Strong revenue growth, although expected to slow But it is expected to outpace spending until 2027-28.
The FAO forecasts a surplus of $100 million at the end of this fiscal year and a surplus of $8.5 billion in 2027-28.
Bethlenfalvy announced last month that Ontario ended last fiscal year with a $2.1 billion surplus, far from the $33 billion deficit expected in the budget due to inflation and a strong economy.
Otherwise, the surplus will slow net debt accumulation and will see the net debt-to-GDP ratio drop to 31.5% in 2027-28, the lowest since 2008-09.