Getting Ontario’s Financial House in Order
THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – Ontarians should be very concerned about the province’s fiscal situation, according to a new report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce. The report, How Bad Is It? What Do We Do About It? provides a straightforward account of Ontario’s current fiscal situation. It finds that while Ontario’s fiscal situation is better than that of many other countries facing fiscal problems, the province is likely to reach a state of crisis unless it cuts spending and changes the ways it does business.
The report finds that Ontario’s history of spending is unsustainable. In only seven of the past 25 years has the government balanced its books or achieved a surplus. As a result, the province has been digging itself deeper and deeper into the red. By 2016-17, interest payments to service the provincial debt are projected to consume ten cents of every dollar the government spends.
According to the authors, a tipping point may be closer than Ontarians think. With a slower growth future projected for the province, combined with the growing demands of a rapidly aging population, the need to deal with the fiscal situation now becomes all the more urgent. A sustained state of poor fiscal health can hurt business confidence and makes the province a less attractive place to invest.
“Ontario’s business community is concerned with where the province is heading,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “There are a number of impending challenges, including an aging population, that will increase pressure on Ontario’s budget. Unless we act now to get our debt and deficit under control, these challenges will become much more difficult to deal with.”
“We believe that the government has a responsibility to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its own operations before considering tax increases to boost revenues,” added Charla Robinson, President of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce. “This report provides an analysis of the current situation as well as solutions to address these challenges.”
The report offers six approaches that the government can take to reduce its spending and move along a more fiscally sustainable path. These approaches, which include adopting asset recycling and seeking alternative service delivery (ASD) opportunities, have been successful in reducing government spending while achieving key outcomes both abroad and in Ontario.
Read the full report: www.tbchamber.ca/advocacy/
• Over the previous fiscal year, the Government of Ontario spent $10.5 billion more than it collected in revenue. This will increase to $12.5 billion in 2014-15.
• To attain its deficit-elimination goal of 2017-18, the government must reduce the deficit by over $4 billion per year for the next three years.
• For 18 of the past 25 years, governments in Ontario have run a budget deficit.
• Ontario’s net debt in 2013-14 was $267.2 billion. The cost of servicing this debt was $10.6 billion, or $29 million per day.