Doug Ford’s government spent $3.5 billion less than planned in first half of 2022-23: FAO
Premier Doug Ford’s government spent $3.5 billion less than planned in the first half of the fiscal year, according to the province’s budget watchdog.
In a 12-page report released on Tuesday, the Financial Accountability Office said the Progressive Conservatives spent $80.5 billion between April 1 and September 30.
But the Conservatives had planned to spend $84 billion over that period.
Overall health spending was $849 million lower than forecast, down 2.4%.
Spending on education was $413 million lower, down 3.3%.
Spending on children and social services was $244 million lower, down 2.7%.
Spending by colleges and universities was $99 million lower, down 3%.
Justice expenditures were $59 million lower, down 2.2%.
Other program spending was $1.75 billion lower than budgeted, down 12.5%.
But the FAO, which is an independent agent of the legislature, pointed out that the province’s overall spending plan for 2022-23 remains intact at $193 billion.
This suggests spending could come in the second quarters of 2022-23, so a precise picture will not be known until Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy releases his next budget by 31 March 2023.
Compared to the first half of 2021-22 — at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — spending rose 4.7%, or $3.6 billion, this fiscal year.
The FAO report comes two weeks after Bethlenfalvy forecast the government would run a $12.9 billion deficit this fiscal year.
This followed a surprise surplus of $2.1 billion in 2021-22 as Ontario emerged from the pandemic.
Treasury Board President Prabmeet Sarkaria is expected to comment on the FAO findings later on Tuesday.
The Conservatives are projecting an $8.1 billion deficit in 2023-24, but that deficit is expected to fall to $700 million in 2024-25, suggesting they could balance the books in time for the June provincial election 2026.
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