Ontario Spending More Won’t Imperil Deficit Goal: Wynne

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the province won’t miss deficit-reduction targets as it invests in infrastructure and services.

“It’s not that we’re saying that we are abandoning that,” Wynne said today at a media conference broadcast on CP24 television. “We are very aware that continuing to keep spending under control is critical. We need to work with our ministers to regulate the budget.”

Canada’s biggest province forecasts its budget deficit will swell to C$11.7 billion ($11.2 billion) this fiscal year from C$9.8 billion last year. Ontario has pledged to eliminate that shortfall by the fiscal year starting April 2017.

The province is prepared to miss its targets to avoid deep program cuts, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported today.

“Cutting programs, slashing across the board is not going to get us to an aspirational future,” Wynne said. “It’s just not going to work.”

Finance Minister Charles Sousa is due to give an update on the province’s finances at about 1:30 p.m. today. The statement will emphasize spending, particularly on infrastructure, to increase economic growth, the Globe said.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, a former Ontario finance minister, urged the province to stay on track.

“What I don’t want to hear from the government of Ontario is that they’re abandoning their plan,” Flaherty told reporters in Toronto today.

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