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Ontario projecting $4.5B deficit this year in 3rd-quarter finances

Ontario is projecting that it will end this fiscal year with a $4.5-billion deficit, while also so far hanging onto a large contingency fund.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy released the province’s third-quarter finances today, the last major fiscal update he’s set to provide before introducing the budget by the end of March.

The current deficit projection for 2023-24 is $4.5 billion, which is $1.1 billion lower than the forecast in Bethlenfalvy’s fall economic statement, but still significantly higher than the $1.3 billion he was eyeing at the time of last year’s budget.

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The government says the $1.1 billion improvement is due to higher revenue, including money from taxes and transfers from the federal government, and lower interest costs on the province’s debt due to rosier interest rate forecasts.

Ontario has added some new spending since the fall economic statement, including $1.7 billion to the health sector and more than $700 million in supports for the city of Toronto.

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The province is using its contingency fund to pay for some of those new expenses, and the fund that sat at $5.4 billion at the time of the fall economic update, is now at $3.3 billion.

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