Ontario to table first balanced budget since the recession on April 27

Ontario budget to be tabled April 27

TORONTO — Ontario’s first balanced budget since the recession is set to be delivered April 27.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced the date Thursday in a speech to the Empire Club of Canada, saying that gives the government room to make new investments.

The budget will include a public transit tax credit for seniors 65 years and older. That would come after the federal government recently announced it was eliminating a 15 per cent tax credit for commuters who buy a transit pass.

The Ontario tax credit “will make it more affordable for (seniors) to go to the gym, the library, or to take their grandkids to a concert,” Sousa said.

Sousa highlighted in his speech investments the government has made in the innovation sector, saying more of that can be expected in the budget.

“We must embrace new, potentially disruptive technologies,” he said.

He also signalled that more health spending is coming, saying that sector will get “a major booster shot.”

Even though Ontario’s Liberal government has managed to knock down a deficit that was at one point more than $20 billion, the province’s debt continues to grow.

It has swelled to more than $300 billion and in last year’s budget interest on that debt was more than $11 billion and was growing twice as quickly as any program spending area.

The Progressive Conservatives have accused the government of artificially balancing the budget, through the use of one-time money from asset sales and the use of a reserve fund.

Sousa has said he intends to put measures in the budget to address the red-hot housing market in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond. He is set to meet with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Toronto Mayor John Tory on Tuesday to discuss housing in the region.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press