On Tuesday, Ontario’s finance minister reintroduced the Progressive Conservative government’s budget.
It includes an updated deficit projection of $18.8-billion.
The budget reintroduction came immediately after the government’s throne speech Tuesday, which kicked off a new legislative session by setting out a new agenda.
In the throne speech, the PCs acknowledged that more can be done to ease health-system pressures.
Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell delivered Premier Doug Ford’s speech from the throne.
Ford has been premier since 2018, and the speech touted what he has already done in health, including adding thousands of hospital beds and nurses, and a plan to build 30-thousand new long-term care beds.
The actual budget legislation was unchanged from when it was tabled, but not passed, before the spring election.
However, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy says some contingency funds will be used to give an additional $225-million in direct payments to parents and boost disability support payment rates by five per cent.
Bethlenfalvy also announced new projections today, saying the government is now forecasting a deficit of $18.8-billion this year, down from the $19.9-billion the Tories expected in the spring.
That’s due to higher-than-projected taxation revenues.
Bethlenfalvy says it’s prudent to put that $1.1-billion toward the deficit instead of program spending given global economic uncertainty.
Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) President Cathryn Hoy, RN, says the government’s Throne Speech and rereleased provincial budget utterly fail to take urgent action to protect access to healthcare for Ontarians, or to include meaningful solutions to restore our health-care system and its devastated health workforce.
Interim Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party John Fraser says Ford’s plan fails to address healthcare, affordability, and climate crises.
“Today, Doug Ford had the opportunity to address the ongoing labour crisis in our healthcare system, introduce new measures that would make life more affordable for families who are finding it harder and harder, each and every day, to make ends meet, and take real action to combat climate change. Instead, he has reintroduced a budget that fails to reflect today’s reality and the issues currently faced by Ontarians,” said Fraser.