Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

The Minister of Finance had planned a return to balanced budget this year, but the situation has changed.

À what to expect from the budget mid-term of Doug Ford's government?

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Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy will present his fourth budget on Tuesday.

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Doug Ford's government presents Tuesday his 2024 budget, the second since his re-election.

The Progressive Conservatives have already spilled the beans a bit by confirming that the reduction in the provincial gas tax will be maintained until December 31, 2024. This rebate at the pump of 5.7 cents per liter ( 5.3 cents per liter for diesel) has been in effect since July 1, 2022 and has been extended several times.

According to the government, this measure will save households $320 on average over a period of two and a half years.

According to CBC sources, there would also be measures in this budget to regulate automobile insurance. On this, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy acknowledged that we need to offer more choice to drivers, but did not want to clarify his thoughts.

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Ontarians, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area, pay some of the highest premiums in Canada.

Prime Minister Doug Ford and his Minister of Finance repeat, for the rest, that there will be no tax increase, that the government's objective is to put money back into pockets of Ontarians and continue to build the province's economy.

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As is tradition, the Minister of Finance went to get a new pair of shoes before the budget. Peter Bethlenfalvy chose work boots this year.

In its previous budget, the province projected a deficit of $1.3 billion for 2023- 2024, with a return to balance this year. It's unclear whether this prediction will come to fruition, but Doug Ford spoke last week of a fairly balanced exercise, without offering further details.

However, during an update on the province's finances in February, Peter Bethlenfalvy predicted that Ontario would end this fiscal year with a deficit of $4.5 billion.

After its defeat in court, the Ford government also continued to compensate public sector workers in connection with Law 124, which capped their salary increases. In total, the compensation could cost more than $13 billion, according to the Financial Accountability Office.

At Queen's Park on Monday, the parties of opposition have rolled out their lists of priorities for this budget.

The impact of a measure like reducing the gas tax remains marginal, according to Liberal MP Ted Hsu, who would like the government to tackle the rising cost of living head-on. A tax reduction also benefits gasoline producers because they can raise the price, he argues.

For Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, if the province really wants to help people get around at a lower cost, it should help Ontarians have access to an electric vehicle and invest more in public transportation, in fares and network reliability.

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According to Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party, the Ontario government should help Ontarians have access to an electric vehicle. (Archive photo)

Mike Schreiner adds that to help people save, the government could offer energy efficiency incentives.

This government talks a lot about carbon pricing. But he doesn't talk about how we could retrofit homes to help people save money by conserving energy or how we could invest in making public transportation more affordable. , he said.

NDP, Liberals and Greens agree on other points: Ford government must set ambitious targets for affordable housing, say opposition parties. They are also calling for significant investments in basic services, health and education.

With information from Mathieu Simard

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