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Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care
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Author:  BeaverFever [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

Quote:
Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

JUSTIN GIOVANNETTI
The Globe and Mail
Last updated Thursday, Apr. 27, 2017 5:01PM EDT

Ontario has balanced its budget for the first time in a decade, opening the taps to pour billions into health care and consumer-friendly spending, while wagering that a fast-growing economy will keep the province’s books in the black through next year’s election.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has eased back on the austerity imposed in Ontario in recent years as her Liberals have sought to erase the province’s deficit, allocating nearly $7-billion in new funding for health care over three years, including increasing hospitals’ operating budgets and providing free prescription drugs for everyone 24 years and under. This comes on top of an already announced promise to spend $1.44-billion to provide relief to homeowners from rapidly rising electricity rates. The newfound largesse however comes with no immediate plan to get the province’s ballooning debt under control.


Released only 14 months before Ontarians head to the polls, the $141-billion budget is a campaign document for Ms. Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa. The sprinkling of new spending will come as Ms. Wynne’s approval rating has tumbled close to the single digits in recent months and polls have shown widespread dissatisfaction with her government.

Ontario budget highlights: 10 things you need to know

“This balanced budget writes a new chapter for the people of Ontario,” Mr. Sousa told reporters as he unveiled his budget on Thursday afternoon. Calling the budget “socially progressive,” the Finance Minister celebrated balancing the books while providing billions in new funding for children, seniors and middle-class voters, all while avoiding any major tax increases.

The budget contains nearly $518-million in new operating funding for the province’s hospitals over the next year, an increase of more than 3 per cent that comes after years of frozen budgets. The health budget has been increased for the next three years by $7-billion. The Finance Minister described the additional funding for health care as a “booster shot.” The new youth drug coverage plan will cost $465-million per year.

Mr. Sousa is projecting that the province’s books will remain balanced until the end of the decade, aided by a fast-growing economy that has driven up tax revenues. Ontario’s soaring housing market will help pay for the new spending, with the land transfer tax now expected to collect $3.1-billion annually, nearly double what it was four years ago.

A 16-point housing plan was unveiled last Thursday to make housing more affordable by levying a new tax on foreign buyers and introducing rent controls.

While there have been questions from Ontario’s independent Financial Accountability Office about whether the Liberals could balance the budget without significant tax increases or spending cuts, Mr. Sousa dismissed any suggestion that his budget forecast is too rosy.

“Every year, we’ve been told that we won’t be able to achieve our targets,” he said. “And every year, every single year, we exceed our targets and we surpass expectations.”

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown accused the Liberals of presenting a “so-called” balanced budget. He said the province’s debt has more than doubled since the Liberals came to power in 2003, but there is no plan in the budget to get it under control.

“The Wynne Liberals are cooking the books a year before the next election,” Mr. Brown said.

The government is putting off reducing the province’s net debt as a percentage of gross domestic product until well into the future. Expected to top $311-billion over the coming year, Ontario has the highest subnational debt in the world. The province’s ballooning debt will cause the net debt-to-GDP ratio to swell to 37.5 per cent in the next fiscal year. The government has set a target of fiscal year 2030 to reduce the debt ratio to where it was 22 years earlier at the pre-recession level of 27 per cent.

Ontario is currently spending more than $1-billion monthly to service the debt.

The province will take in $141.7-billion in revenue over the next fiscal year, up $8.4-billion from the previous year. Expenses, including interest on debt, will climb to $141.1-billion, up from $134.8-billion.

The budget won’t patch up the provincial government’s rocky relationship with the province’s largest city or Toronto Mayor John Tory. The spending document provides little new money for affordable housing, transit infrastructure or funds to fix the crumbling Gardiner Expressway. Mr. Tory will get to cross one item off his wish list, the province will grant the city the power to put a tax on hotels that could be extended to short-term rentals like those provided by AirBnB.

While the province is adding more money to its long-term infrastructure program, now valued at $156-billion over the next decade, many of the new roads, bridges, schools and hospitals meant to be built under the plan won’t be ready for years.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath dismissed the budget as a back-of-the-napkin plan that is “meagre and disappointing.” While the budget encroaches on her party’s turf by expanding drug coverage, she critiqued it for failing to increase the province’s minimum wage.

“This budget doesn’t even come close to undoing the damage Kathleen Wynne and her Liberals have done over the last 14 years,” Ms. Horwath said.

Her New Democrats have pledged to create a universal pharamacare program and boost the minimum wage to $15 if elected next year.

One of the budget’s most pocketbook-friendly chapters is $1.4-billion earmarked to provide relief to homeowners facing rapidly rising electricity rates. The government previously announced that homeowners can expect to see a 25-per-cent reduction on average in their electricity bills starting this summer. Rate increases over the next four years would also be held to the rate of inflation.

—With files from reporter Karen Howlett.


https://www.google.ca/amp/s/sec.theglob ... vice%3Damp

Author:  BeaverFever [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

Quote:
This balanced budget writes a new chapter for the people of Ontario,” Mr. Sousa told reporters as he unveiled his budget on Thursday afternoon. Calling the budget “socially progressive,” the Finance Minister celebrated balancing the books while providing billions in new funding for children, seniors and middle-class voters, all while avoiding any major tax increases.


... or firing 100,000 teachers and nurses, which is what the conservatives campaigned on in the last election....

Author:  raydan [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

A Liberal government balancing a budget... impossible.

Must be fake news or they cooked the books. 8O




:lol:

Author:  PluggyRug [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

Would you like ketchup with your cooked books?

Author:  housewife [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

So they are buying votes again

Author:  CDN_PATRIOT [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

housewife wrote:
So they are buying votes again


Yup. Next year is an election year. Typical Liberal ploy as per usual. Won't work this time, methinks. The damage done by the Wynne Liberals is too extensive this time around.

-J.

Author:  ShepherdsDog [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

Must be an Onion story.

Author:  BeaverFever [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

housewife wrote:
So they are buying votes again



Balanced budget AND giving people the services they demand want = buying votes now?

The criticisms from the can't-get-electied party are pathetiic and desperate.

Author:  ShepherdsDog [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

BeaverFever wrote:


You people are pathetic.


Beaver has found his people....sounds like Bart and his dear leader.

Author:  BartSimpson [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

http://globalnews.ca/news/3410101/ontar ... 2017-debt/

Quote:
The debt, however, is another matter. It is projected to be $312 billion this year, or roughly $22,000 for every Ontarian. It is projected to grow to $336 billion in 2019-2020.


Soooooo, you have a balanced budget but you're going to have to borrow another $24 billion over the next two years to paper over the deficit.

Funny, if a privately owned Canadian company ran its books like this the Canadian government would slam them into prison in a heartbeat.

:roll:

Author:  BeaverFever [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

Not quite. But I would hardly characterize a balanced budget as "buying votes". I'm open to the many reasoned arguments against Wynne, some of which are described in the OP, but I don't suffer the stupid ones.

Author:  BeaverFever [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

BartSimpson wrote:
http://globalnews.ca/news/3410101/ontario-budget-2017-debt/

Soooooo, you have a balanced budget but you're going to have to borrow another $24 billion over the next two years to paper over the deficit.


You misunderstand. The $24b is just growth in total debt, due to the next two years of accumulated interest. Nowhere does it say that the government will have to pay that off in the near future or borrow money to do so.

Quote:
Funny, if a privately owned Canadian company ran its books like this the Canadian government would slam them into prison in a heartbeat.

:roll:


That just makes no sense. It's not a crime to have debt.

Here's what conservatives and the debt fanatics don't understand: Just about Every single private company on the planet, including and perhaps especially the wealthiest and most successful ones have debt. At any given point in time, Trump has debts. Google has debts. Bill Gates has debts. Wealthy people and business (and government) can borrow money for next to nothing, so when they want cash for something they don't empty their piggy bank or sell off valuable assets that are earning high returns, they borrow it. They pay it off, maybe in the short term, maybe in the long term, but by then they've already borrowed new money for something else.

Let's illustrate this another way: You don't really think Trump keeps a zero balance on his credit card do you? His people probably pay off the balance monthly, but by the time the payment hits the account, he's likely already racked up new charges. His card probably has no set limit but I'm sure if things got really really bad, as they did for Greece eventually someone at American Express would make the call to cut him off. But that doesn't mean Trump is the next Greece simply because he has any kind of balance at all.

Author:  BeaverFever [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

Added emphasis mine:

Quote:

EDITORIAL

Globe editorial: Ontario’s NDP-lite budget sets the table for the next election

The budget that Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivered on Thursday, April 27, 2017, is all about an event happening on Thursday, June 7, 2018: The next provincial election. The province's Liberal government currently stands a distant second or third in the polls; those same opinion surveys have saddled Premier Kathleen Wynne with the moniker of "Canada's least popular premier." Her personal approval rating is so low that for months, there's been widespread talk about a panicked party pushing her into retirement.

But don't count out the Liberals or Ms. Wynne just yet. Not by a long shot. Election after election since 2003, they've figured out how to win back voters, with more than a little help from Ontario's Progressive Conservatives, who are past masters at figuring out how to lose them. Team Wynne still has a lot of tricks up its sleeve – and more ammunition than ever in its fiscal arsenal.

Nine years after Great Recession hit, Ontario's budget is back in balance. After winning the election in 2014, the Liberals promised to eliminate the deficit before voters next went to the polls. Their two-stage plan has largely worked as expected.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT


How did they do it? Step one, spending restraint. Yes, really. For the last three years, Liberal rhetoric has been designed to convince voters that they've been as busy giving away money as the Tooth Fairy. In fact, they've spent the last three years wrestling down expenses in health and education, the two largest government departments.

Spending increases there have been held well below inflation plus population growth – not an easy trick when teachers unions are your allies, or given that Ontario already spends less per person on health than any province except Quebec. The Liberals brought in austerity-lite, while trying to deny it. And for the budget to balance, they had to.

Step two, revenue growth: Over the last few years, the economy has grown faster than expected, and tax revenues, including a land transfer tax powered by a hot housing market, and a big scoop from the new tax-like cap-and-trade system, greatly outpaced growth in expenditures. Revenues growing faster than spending equals, right on the electoral schedule, a balanced budget.

If the budget remains balanced in the years to come – that's what the Liberals are promising, though some economists and the province's Fiscal Accountability Office have raised questions about the details – the relative size of the province's debt, known at the debt-to-GDP ratio, will slowly but steadily fall. That would be a real and substantial accomplishment.

It's also valuable political currency. That's why PC leader Patrick Brown, the man whose election this is to lose, responded to Thursday's budget by insisting that taxes and spending are still out of control, and Liberal accounting shenanigans are covering up the fact that the government is deep in deficit. New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath, in contrast, handed out a press release headlined: "Wynne's Budget Doesn't Undo The Damage She's Done."

It was Why Haven't You Cut More vs. Why Have You Cut So Much. The Liberals are aiming to walk to victory, right up the middle.


But the Wynne government's plan to win again in 2018 is mostly not about competing with the Tories for votes. Beyond eliminating the deficit, the budget doesn't the Tory language. Instead, it's about winning re-election by eating the NDP's lunch.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT


For three years, the Liberals have been implementing austerity-lite, while insisting that they are actually Santa Claus. Now that Ontario's in balance, they're talking more than ever like Saint Nick, but they've finally got more gifts to hand out, to key constituencies: young voters, seniors, lower income Ontarians, the education sector, anyone who cares about health care, and anyone steaming over their hydro bill.

The Liberals are shifting from austerity-lite to NDP-lite.

For example, the NDP has been calling for a province-wide pharmacare plan – free prescription drugs for everyone. The Liberal budget cribs from the NDP by going part way there, offering free drugs for anyone under the age of 24. The Liberals have long been pushing for a national pharmacare program, and the province already covers drugs for seniors and those on welfare, more than a quarter of the population. But the sudden arrival of free drugs for children and youth still feels like a last minute addition to the fiscal plan. Finance Minister Charles Sousa told reporters it will cost $465-million a year, but that figure is nowhere to be found in the budget itself.

Seniors? The federal Liberals eliminated the tax boutique credit for riding public transit; their provincial cousins have brought it back – for anyone over the age of 65.

Young voters? The province's program for assisting college and university students, OSAP, will become both simpler and more generous. This was announced last year, but it doesn't start to kick in until this fall and next year. The Liberals say the vast majority of students from families earning less than $90,000 will now receive grants that meet or exceed the cost of tuition.

Health? The province really has been squeezing health spending since the last election, with annual increases of barely more than 2 per cent over the last two years – well below inflation plus population growth. This coming year, however, health spending is budgeted to rise by 3 per cent, and then by nearly 5 per cent the year after.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT


And whereas governments used to focus on streamlining health care by closing hospitals, the Liberals are trumpeting all the new facilities they are building or planning.

More daycare spaces? Yes – though fewer than the NDP is demanding.

Housing? As announced earlier this month, the Liberals are using the housing price bubble as an excuse to expand rent control – an economically self-defeating policy, and one having absolutely nothing to do with the housing bubble, but which will please more than a few renters nonetheless.

Hydro? One of the most expensive new commitments, announced before the budget, is the government's plan to use your taxes to lower your hydro bill. Price: $1.4 billion a year. Governments can do all sorts of dumb things when they're feeling flush.

And for all that, this budget often tries to act like it's spending more than it is; the government's health care increases, which are modest but real, get creatively double- and triple-counted. Health spending is budgeted to grow from $52.2-billion in 2016 to $58.1 billion in 2019, and that is repeatedly referred to as "increasing by $11.5-billion over three years."

And the long-term infrastructure plan, most of which is scheduled to happen years from now, and which exists almost entirely outside the annual operating budget, never stops growing, at least rhetorically. Two years ago it was a ten year, $130-billion infrastructure program. Last year, it had become a 12-year, $160-billion program. Now it's described as a 13-year, $190-billion infrastructure plan.

The bottom line is that the current state of Ontario's finances offers big opportunities for the Liberals, and serious challenges for the PCs and the NDP.

The NDP, whose voters are the Liberal target, of course say they hate this budget. But with its balanced bottom line and big new commitments to social spending, it feels like a fiscal plan another NDP party – the 2015 federal NDP, led by Thomas Mulcair – would have loved.


https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinio ... ice=mobile

Author:  herbie [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

Quote:
Funny, if a privately owned Canadian company ran its books like this the Canadian government would slam them into prison in a heartbeat.

No they'd just tack arbitrary penalties on it until it declared bankruptcy and they got nothing at all. Or if it was in Qeubec, hand it $1 billion in bailouts.

Author:  Thanos [ Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ontario balances budget, pours billions into health care

ShepherdsDog wrote:
BeaverFever wrote:


You people are pathetic.


Beaver has found his people....sounds like Bart and his dear leader.


Anyone who falls for the schtick from Trump or Wynne, or any politician at all for that matter, deserves what they get in the end. This is why I don't want to believe anymore. Being the one stuck with a car that has no engine or doors because they trusted the nice salesman doesn't appeal to me anymore. :|

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