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Ontario's budget deficit came in lower than expected

Higher tax revenue was the key factor in the improvement

QUEEN'S PARK — The province finished the 2023-2023 fiscal year with a much smaller deficit than the government projected in its 2022 budget.

Ontario was $5.9 billion in the red, $14 billion less than it had initially expected, for the year that ended March 31, 2023.

Treasury Board President Caroline Mulroney and Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy released the province's public accounts for last year at a news conference.

They attributed the decrease mostly to higher tax revenue. 

The ministers said the government spent eight per cent more on health sector base programs last year, and 16 per cent more on education sector base programming including the implementation of the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the federal government.

That program reduces average out-of-pocket childcare fees.

Ontario spent $186.4 billion across all programs, an increase of 9.3 per cent over program spending the previous fiscal year.

"We're mindful that the province is not immune to any potential slowdown in economic growth," Bethenfalvy said. "In the face of heightened economic and geopolitical challenges, including the Bank of Canada's interest rate increases, we will continue to take a responsible and targeted approach."

When he released the province's first-quarter public accounts (current fiscal year) last month, the 2022-23 deficit was projected to come out to be only $2.2 billion.

On Wednesday, the minister described that change as small and reasonable. 


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