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Friday, April 12, 2019

Province Plans Path to Balanced Books in 2019 Budget

Grey Bruce | by Matt Hermiz  

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker says intent was to introduce responsible budget, while protecting what matters most.

The Doug Ford government has laid out a five-year plan to balance the province's books in its first budget.

Finance Minister Vic Fedelli introduced the document at Queen's Park yesterday and claims the Tories have already trimmed Ontario's deficit down from $15-billion to $11.7-billion since taking power.

In 2019-20, Fedelli projects Ontario's deficit will fall to $10.3-billion while the Tories expect a surplus by 2023-24.

The Finance Minister says the province's 2019 budget includes no new tax increases.

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker, the Minister of Government and Consumer Services, says the intent was to introduce a responsible budget that brings the province back to balance while protecting what matters most.

"Every dollar we spend on interest payments is money that is not going to health care, to education, to long-term care, to mental health," Walker explains. "That was the whole intent of this."

The budget does include a child care income tax credit to allow parents with children in daycare to receive up to $6,000 per child for those ages six and under, and up to $3,750 for ages 7 to 16.

Reports indicate the credit is adjusted to family income and households earning over $150,000 will not be eligible.

Walker calls it a flexible childcare initiative that puts parents in control of choosing care-providers.

"We're hoping it will help low- and middle-income families," Walker says, "with up to 75 per cent of eligible childcare costs per year, including those for daycare, home-based care, camps, whatever they choose for the most part."

"...Wherever they feel it's the best for their children, we're going to give them that flexibility."

As expected, seniors with low incomes will also receive free dental care.

Some changes to the regulation of alcohol are also included in the budget. According to reports, municipalities will be able to allow drinking in public parks, while bars and restaurants can begin serving booze at 9 a.m. every day.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath warns the budget is filled with drastic cuts.

According to numerous reports, many government ministries will see spending slowed or budgets scaled back.

Some of the largest cuts will come in Municipal Affairs and Housing which will see its budget shrink by $366-million, while Indigenous Affairs will lose $74-million -- nearly half of its budget last year.

The Ministry of Environment budget will shrink by more than $275-million.

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