Economy

Ontario Budget 2019 to allow purchase of gambling tickets on smartphones

Ontario Budget 2019 to allow purchase of gambling tickets on smartphones”

Every year, his government has produced bigger deficits than it promised, and this year's is almost $20 billion.

As Premier Doug Ford signalled, his first budget was not the "slash-and-burn" fiscal plan many predicted.

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli found himself defending his level of spending, after years of complaining about Liberal largesse. "Our government stands firmly on the side of hard-working taxpayers".

The budget contains no new taxes.

Ford's budget makes no serious effort to lower the province's debt-to-GDP ratio, which many economic experts consider a more important measure of fiscal discipline, or lack of it, than deficits and debt.

A press release from the provincial government said it has reduced the deficit by $3.3 billion, going from $15 billion to a "projected" $11.7 billion for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

It lays out the path back to balance, but it won't happen until after the next provincial election - the government doesn't expect to be in a "modest" surplus position until 2023-24.

Program expenses will rise over three years by an average of 0.8 per cent, compared to the 3.3 per cent in growth that the former Liberal government planned.

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said he can't understand the Tory "obsession" with pet projects like new licence plates and tailgating.

Thus their projected deficits and reserve funds are far more credible than those of the Liberals, which were a joke, and Liberal deficits (or the NDP's) would have been higher had they won the election.

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner pointed out that booze and gambling are mentioned "63 times" in the budget.

In addition, the government is announcing a responsible debt burden reduction strategy to responsibly manage Ontario's more than $343,000,000,000 debt.

Opposition parties noted the budget cuts $1 billion from the children and social services budget.

It included lower spending on children's and social services even as the Conservatives proposed a new dental program for low-income seniors and a new refundable tax credit for childcare costs that would provide up to C$6,000 per child under the age of 7, and a lesser amount for older children.

The Tories say that decrease will occur gradually, in large part as the government brings in a reformed social assistance program that moves more people off welfare into work.

Along with that, the budget indicated that Ontarians spend about $500 million CAD a year gambling online at illegal websites and now the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is going to take steps to improve access to its services and create more jobs and protect Canadians when purchasing tickets online.

The 8 cents in savings on every dollar spent isn't actually a cut in spending but rather, "savings and cost avoidance" between now and 2023-24 by not spending every dollar the Liberals had promised to spend.

HEALTH-CARE SPENDING: The province will hike hospital spending by $384 million, which represents a two per cent increase in 2019-2020.

This year's budget lays out the government's plan to introduce legislation to allow for insurance companies to offer better coverage options based on the driver's credit history or by agreeing to use preferred providers for auto fix or health care services.

The government is also ending the Estate Administration Tax for taxable estates with assets of $50,000 or less on January 1, and reducing it by $250 for larger estates.



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