Ontario tries to balance spending and saving

Provincial governments. They’re just like us. They tell themselves they're gonna rein in spending and then go, “Hmmm, maybe next year.” 

What happened: Canada’s most populous province tabled its budget for 2024-25. Like most provinces, it put balanced books on the back burner in favour of higher spending, planning to operate on a $9.8 billion deficit this fiscal year, which is more than triple last year’s deficit. 

  • Having the largest non-COVID deficit since 2014 is a far cry from the promise the government made last year to operate on a surplus — a goal it’s pushed to 2026.

Zoom in: Costly initiatives include a push to help more Ontarians find family doctors, a $1.8 billion investment in two funds building "community-enabling infrastructure” like roads and bridges, and the six-month extension of a gas tax cut

Why it’s happening: That buzzy “It's Happening Here” ad campaign may have been all like Ontario is doing great btw, thanks for asking, but the province’s finance ministry pinned the blame for the growing deficit on lower tax revenues stemming from slowed economic growth.

Why it matters: Ontario’s budget encapsulates pretty much all the anxieties echoed in other provincial budgets in one tidy package. Ontario must $pend to address healthcare, housing, and affordability (and pay public servants), all while GDP growth is, at best, sluggish.—QH