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Ontario to have $22.6B in ‘excess funds’ to be used on programs or debt, FAO says

TORONTO — Ontario’s budget watchdog says a look at the province’s spending plan shows there will be $22.6 billion in “excess funds” over the next few years.

The Financial Accountability Office says through to 2025-26 the government’s spending plan is $5.6 billion higher each year on average than the FAO’s projections.

The $22.6 billion represents money that isn’t needed to fund existing or announced programs, so it could go toward new programs, enhancing existing programs, offset any new financial pressures that materialize or pay down the province’s net debt.

If the government goes entirely for the latter option, the FAO says Ontario’s debt burden would decline for an “unprecedented” seven consecutive years and result in a net debt-to-GDP ratio of 31.8 per cent by 2027-28, the lowest since 2008-09.

The FAO estimates that the health sector represents about $4.4 billion in excess funds, but most of the rest are likely contingency funds.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s office said in a statement that FAO reports show a “snapshot in time” that isn’t reflective of actual government spending.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 13, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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