Ontario spending billions of dollars more so far this year, fiscal watchdog says

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TORONTO — Ontario's financial watchdog says the government is spending billions more so far this year than at the start of the last fiscal year.

A report today from the Financial Accountability Office looks at the first-quarter expenses in the Progressive Conservative government's record $193 billion spending plan.

The report compares it to last year's first-quarter spending, as well as the actual plan compared to how much money actually went out the door.

It finds that this year's first-quarter spending, from April to June, is $3.1 billion higher than last year during the same time, including nearly $1.4 billion more in health, a large portion of which is payments to physicians, which FAO officials believe is due to people making "catch-up" doctor visits following the worst of the pandemic.

It also shows that governments are not immune to the impacts of rising interest rates, with spending on debt in the first quarter of this year being $480 million higher than last year.

The FAO says the government spent $776 million less than planned in the first quarter, including $107 million less in child-care spending, which officials say may be due to a slow rollout of the national $10-a-day program in Ontario.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2022.

The Canadian Press