11/23/2011

Provincial government delivered its 2011 Fall Economic Statement.
Today Finance Minister Dwight Duncan delivered the fall economic statement. Key highlights included:

  • The government is projecting a deficit of $16.0 billion for this fiscal year.
  • The Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (the Drummond Report) is expected to recommend that the target for spending growth be reduced to 1 per cent. Current government spending growth is 1.4 per cent.
  • Real GDP growth is presently 2.0 per cent. This rate is down from the 2011 Budget projection of 2.6 per cent.
  • Ontario’s October 2011 unemployment rate was 8.1 per cent. This is down from a recessionary high of 9.4 per cent in May 2009.
  • The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit is the only new spending program announced in the Fall Economic Statement. This $60 million program will support seniors living at home and will help with the costs of home renovations such as walk-in bathtubs or wheelchair ramps. The tax credit is worth up to $1,500 per year and is effective as of October 1, 2011.
  • The Minister stated the there is a need, “to examine everything the government does, piece by piece, to find creative, efficient and effective ways to deliver public services.”
During the recent provincial election campaign AMO advanced a number of pragmatic, cost free proposals. Among them, the Premier has promised to work with municipalities to explore: 
  • Opportunities to collect up to $1 billion in unpaid Provincial Offences Act fines; and
  • Reviewing joint and several liability which would help protect property taxpayers from rising insurance rates and excessive claims.
The Premier also said he would honour the existing social service and court security upload agreement of $1.5 billion by 2018 and:
  • Protect Ontario’s municipal property tax base from any new downloaded costs;
  • Create a permanent fund for municipal roads and bridges;
  • Provide permanent Provincial Gas Tax revenue – of at least $318 million annually – for transit;
  • Promote personal and producer responsibility within waste management systems;
  • Ensure that clear and fair energy policies support sound planning and investment in Ontario’s electricity system;
  • Avoid caps on property assessment or taxation; and,
  • Continue to consolidate housing programs that are supported by current or increased funding.
AMO will continue to advocate these municipal priorities in the coming months and in its Pre-Budget Submission early in the new year. The next Ontario Budget is expected in March 2012.