Ontario could reduce per-person program spending for balancing the budget: Fraser Institute

·2 min read

Kartar Singh, an immigrant in Halton region who runs his own business is worried because of rising costs of living and doing business. Had it not been for government’s support measures, he says he would have been unable to make the ends meet.

He recalls that things were not as bad when he moved to Canada 8 years ago but now finds it hard to balance his income and expenses.

Mike Williams, yet another Halton resident too shares Kartar Singh’s concerns. He works at a local eatery and is faced with a similar situation with expenses rising above the income.

Critics on the other hand say the government’s budgetary policies are only going to make things worse.

Now the Fraser Institute, a public policy think tank, has said that the Ontario government could balance the province’s budget this fiscal year if it reduces program spending to levels maintained by the previous government in 2015/16.

The claim was made after the findings of a new study were released by the Institute.

‘The current Ontario government—when it was in opposition—was highly critical of the previous government’s spending levels but, actually, has increased spending further since taking office’, the study said.

Ben Eisen, senior fellow at the Fraser Institute and co-author of Learning from Ontario’s Past: How Ontario Can Avoid Another Post-Recession Debt Binge said that Ontario could balance its budget this spring by lowering its spending to those it inherited.

According to the study, Inflation-adjusted per-person program spending has grown from $7,666 in 2000/01 to $11,860 in 2020/21—an increase of 54.7 per cent.

Based on recent projections, the provincial government would need to reduce annual spending by $9.1 billion from its 2021/22 level to balance the budget in 2022/23—a 4.8 per cent decrease.

The institute said that such a reduction would still leave per-person spending (adjusted for inflation) higher than it was in fiscal year 2015/16.

Ross Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter, Milton Reporter

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