The Hamilton Spectator

‘Prudent’ budget ‘is going to help us stay the course’


Ontario’s finance minister is set to present his budget Tuesday amid pressures to ease the rising cost of living, spur new home constructi­on and plan for larger public sector salaries, all while eyeing an expected weaker economy on the horizon.

Premier Doug Ford has said the fiscal plan will be “balanced, per se,” not necessaril­y referring to the bottom line but rather describing a document that takes slower growth into account while pouring money into infrastruc­ture and attracting manufactur­ing.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfal­vy signalled that the cautious approach he has taken with his three previous budgets will continue.

“We’ll build on our plan to keep costs down and grow Ontario’s economy, rebuild it, and grow it and support our workers,” Bethlenfal­vy said Monday at a news conference.

“This update will continue with our government’s very prudent and responsibl­e plan — and very targeted — to manage the province’s finances. It’s going to help us stay the course while creating stronger communitie­s, not just for today, but for tomorrow as well.”

Last year’s budget had the province eyeing a surplus for this upcoming fiscal year, but Bethlenfal­vy’s fall economic update pegged the 2024-25 deficit at $5.3 billion and projected a balanced budget the following year. He has not indicated if his path to balance will remain the same.

Ford and Bethlenfal­vy announced one affordabil­ity measure the day before the budget, trumpeting an extension of their 5.7-cent-per-litre cut to the provincial gas tax to the end of the year. They have also already announced $1.6 billion more to help municipali­ties build key infrastruc­ture to help support new home constructi­on, such as roads and water lines.

But this moment cries out for more spending both to address an affordabil­ity crisis and to help see more homes built, opposition parties said Monday.

Ford, however, has made it clear over the past week that any new housing policy will not include automatica­lly allowing fourplexes across the province.

“(In) an existing home, you can have a nanny suite, but what we aren’t going to do is force people to put up with your neighbour selling their house, and all of a sudden a four-storey building goes up,” he said Monday.

 ?? ?? Premier Doug Ford has said the fiscal plan will be “balanced, per se.”
Premier Doug Ford has said the fiscal plan will be “balanced, per se.”

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