TORONTO — Ontario’s Liberal government is dismissing Opposition claims that today’s budget will lead to a very expensive downgrade in the province’s credit rating.
New York-based Moody’s recently lowered Ontario’s outlook from stable to negative, citing concerns about the province’s ability to eliminate a $12.5 billion deficit in three years.
Interim Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Wilson says Moody’s made it clear it didn’t like the May 1 budget that triggered last month’s election, and the Liberals plan to re-introduce the identical fiscal blueprint today.
Wilson says the budget was “a hodgepodge of new programs and expanded spending” that Ontario simply cannot afford.
But Finance Minister Charles Sousa says the credit rating agencies like the fact the Liberals won a majority on June 12, saying investors are pleased there is a “more stable” government.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she has concerns that the budget will allow “the wholesale sell-off” of assets like the LCBO and Hydro One and that the Liberals aren’t coming clean about the need for massive layoffs to balance the books.
The key details of the budget were reported in May, including $29 billion for public transit and infrastructure projects, $2.5 billion for corporate grants to job creators and $1 billion to develop the Ring of Fire mineral deposit in northern Ontario.
It will also increase taxes for individuals earning more than $150,000, and create a new provincial pension plan for the nearly two-thirds of Ontario workers who don’t have already have a pension, requiring contributions from companies and employees.
There are also pledges to build new college and university campuses, create spaces for 15,000 more post secondary students, and to increase the number of apprentices training in Ontario.