Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath admits to a $1.4B hole in her spending plan

Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath is admitting to a $1.4 billion error in her campaign's fiscal plan, meaning that if elected, the party would be deeper in the red in its first than accounted for.

'I think the most important thing is that we realized we made a mistake,' says Horwath after error corrected

"It was something that we had to fix and we fixed it," Horwath said on her campaign bus Sunday. (Chris Glover/CBC)

Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath is admitting to a $1.4 billion error in her campaign's fiscal plan, meaning that if elected, the party would be deeper in the red in its first year than accounted for. 

"It was something that we had to fix and we fixed it," Horwath said on her campaign bus Sunday. 

Horwath was asked about the campaign's spending plan Saturday after The Ottawa Citizen reported that the party had wrongly categorized a $700 million dollar reserve fund as revenue, when it should have instead been subtracted.

At the time, she suggested the numbers had been given the seal of approval by economist and former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page, who now teaches at the University of Ottawa.

Sunday, Page's office acknowledged the error was outside the scope of his review and confirmed there had indeed been an accounting mistake.

"I think the most important thing is that we realized we made a mistake and thought it was important to be honest about that and fixed the mistake," Horwath said, adding that the amount was less than one per cent of the party's "bottom line" and won't affect its priorities.

"The deficit will be a little bigger than expected," she said Sunday, but added they will still be track to reduce deficit spending each year. Balancing the books isn't in the party's five-year plan.

So how does a $700 million misallocation lead to a $1.4 billion hole?

Reserve funds not only don't count as new money, in the accounting world they're always considered a deficit — even if they aren't spent. That means the amount had to be subtracted twice. 

In a statement Sunday, the Ontario Liberals said the gaffe calls into question the NDP's readiness to manage the books and makes its plan "increasingly unrealistic."

Asked by CBC reporter Chris Glover if the error will affect the public's confidence in the party, Horwath responded: 

"I think that's what people expect. People want to have the kind of leadership that isn't afraid to be honest  about making a mistake like this," she said.

"I'm very confident that everything we've talked to Ontarians about in terms of making life better on healthcare and seniors care and for young people and our plans to get hydro plans down — all of things will remain the same."

With files from Chris Glover