Ontario auditor notes huge contingency funds, underestimated tax revenue in PC budget

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TORONTO — Ontario's auditor general says the Progressive Conservative budget contains higher-than-usual contingency funds, which can be spent on "unplanned items," and underestimates corporate tax revenues for the next three years.

The recently tabled budget was not passed before the legislature adjourned last week ahead of the election campaign and is serving as the Tories' platform.

The auditor general says it contains $19.4 billion budgeted over three years for contingencies in "other program expenses," far higher than the $7.5 billion in contingency funds in the government's previous budget.

Bonnie Lysyk says that more than 80 per cent of that $19.4 billion has not been earmarked for specific programs, meaning over $15 billion could be spent on unplanned items without affecting deficit projections.

The auditor general is required to review the multi-year fiscal plan ahead of a provincial election, and she says that in general it presents a reasonable financial forecast.

However, she also says the budget underestimates corporate tax revenues by about $1.5 billion to $4.2 billion annually for the next three years.

"Understating revenues can create a perception that the government has less revenues available when deciding on programs and initiatives, or annual deficit reduction," Lysyk said in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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