Austerity Ontario Style

Financial Post | Opinion

The McGuinty ‘austerity’ approach to deficit reduction was not austere at all

Ontario’s provincial motto of “Loyal she began, Loyal she remains” best summarizes its deficit reduction strategy. The 2013 budget stresses a “balanced” approach to eliminating the deficit to ensure a “prosperous and fair Ontario,” as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne attempts to counter the “rigid austerity” of former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty’s last term. Yet the evidence shows that the McGuinty era was anything but austere and the Wynne budget simply builds on previous excess. Indeed, a comparison of the 2011-12 fiscal year with interim results for the 2012-13 and the anticipated outcomes for 2013-14 as laid out in the 2013 budget are quite illuminating.

The McGuinty “austerity” approach to deficit reduction was not austere at all. It banked on a slowly recovering Ontario economy to generate revenues faster than expenditures. Revenues in 2011-12 were $109.8-billion with the interim…

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