Ontario now joins Alberta and BC in having deficit budgets but that is hardly surprising given that manufacturing has been hard hit in Ontario. Of course the Conservatives would like to use hard times to cut spending and wages where possible. The opposition is united in their view that delay in releasing the budget also delays stimulus programs.
This is from the Toronto Sun.
Ontario gets set to see red
After weeks of delay, province announces March 26 budget
By JONATHAN JENKINS, QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU
The deficit-heavy provincial budget will be released March 26, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said yesterday.
It will be Duncan's third budget and the first after five years of straight surpluses to record a shortfall.
The extent of the deficit is not yet known but it is widely expected to be at minimum $5 billion and perhaps as high as $10 billion.
"There will be a significant deficit," Premier Dalton McGuinty said recently.
Duncan said last fall the province would record at least a $500-million deficit.
Since then, provincial revenues have plunged and the government has committed to spending billions in economic stimulus, including a $1.3-billion auto-sector bailout and up to $5 billion in infrastructure spending.
The exact date of the budget has been subject to considerable discussion at Queen's Park since Duncan had first suggested he would table the government's recession-fighting and deficit plan in late February or early March.
He defended the delayed release of the budget, which has angered the opposition parties, who were hoping for an early push on infrastructure and job stimulus to help struggling workers.
Yet despite staring down a multibillion-dollar deficit, McGuinty seems unwilling to make the tough calls needed to manage it, argued Opposition Leader Bob Runciman.
"Right across the spectrum, whether it's teachers or whatever else, he's saying, 'We're not going to touch that. We're going to go ahead with that,' " Runciman said.
"He should be out there inspiring people through leadership, to say, 'Come on board, we all have to be part of the solution.' "
In the legislature yesterday, McGuinty pointed to infrastructure investments announced over the last few weeks as a sign his government is taking steps to help the economy now.
"We're not waiting for our budget to do things," he said.
NDP critic Peter Tabuns said the shortfall was inevitable, since "no government is going to abandon its people and abandon its economy."
"The simple logic is that revenues are down, expenses are there and in fact growing, so there will be deficits," Tabuns said.
Among the other provinces, Alberta announced yesterday it was now expecting a deficit of more than $1 billion, as years of economic growth come to a crashing halt. And the B.C. Liberal government tabled a budget Tuesday forecasting a $495-million deficit for the fiscal year 2009.