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Ontario's deficit to rise to $12.3B this year, fiscal watchdog says

Ontario's financial watchdog says the province's deficit will rise to $12.3 billion this fiscal year, half a billion more than he predicted before the spring election.

Policy decisions, a weaker economic forecast contributed to change, financial accountability officer predicts

This is Ontario's first fall economic and budget outlook since Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives took office in June. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Ontario's financial watchdog says the province's deficit will rise to $12.3 billion this fiscal year, half a billion more than he predicted before the spring election.

Financial Accountability Officer Peter Weltman says policy decisions such as cancelling the cap-and-trade program and reversing several tax increases, combined with a weaker economic forecast, contributed to the change.

In his fall economic and budget outlook, Weltman says that without further policy changes, the deficit is expected to exceed $16 billion by 2022-23.

He says that while the government's fall economic statement did not include a budget forecast beyond this year, balancing the books in one mandate would require "significant changes" to policy that could have wide-ranging impacts on Ontario households and businesses.

Ontario Financial Accountability Officer Peter Weltman told reporters Monday that policy decisions, such as cancelling the cap-and-trade program and reversing several tax increases, contributed to the deficit. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

The FAO's spring report, issued just weeks before the provincial election, said the province's deficit would jump to $11.8 billion in 2018 as a result of higher spending in the budget presented by the then-governing Liberals, as well as weak revenue gains.

The Liberals had projected a deficit of $6.7 billion, a figure that was also called into question by Ontario's auditor general.

The Tories have since accepted the auditor general's accounting but said a commission of inquiry and financial review convened to examine government spending found the province's deficit will grow to $15 billion this year.

They said this fall that various savings measures had brought that number down to $14.5 billion.

The FAO says its projections do not include any election promises that the government has yet to act on or announce.

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