McGuinty Government Budget will signal new era

Archived Release

McGuinty Government Budget will signal new era

Ministry of Finance

Consultations focused on long-term solutions to protect and improve public services TORONTO, Jan. 26 - The 2004 Ontario Budget will signal "a new era of transparency, accountability and above all, commitment to the public services Ontarians need and want most," Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara said today. Sorbara told the first pre-budget consultation of the Legislature's Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs that the 2004 Budget will be "the cornerstone of a new long-term approach to government." Sorbara also released the Ontario Economic Accounts for the third quarter, July 1 to September 30. Real Gross Domestic Product fell by 0.6 per cent for the July to September quarter on top of the 0.2 per cent decline in the second quarter. This is due almost entirely to an extraordinary set of circumstances including SARS, border problems relating to the war in Iraq, the impact of mad cow disease and the blackout in August. "The most recent data show that the Ontario economy has emerged strongly from a mid-year economic downturn and economic growth has resumed," said Minister Sorbara. "The current private-sector consensus forecast for Ontario in the October - December quarter is 3 per cent." Sorbara told the Committee that the mid-year economic downturn contributed to the enormous fiscal challenge that must be addressed. "The $5.6 billion deficit is an obstacle we have to overcome. The bottom line on which we all agree is the need to live within our means," he said. "In that context we are asking Ontarians to talk to us about what they want to see in the budget and beyond. We also want them to help us define exactly what success in meeting their priorities will mean four, five or six years from now." The Minister of Finance will be conducting his own public engagement process, beginning February 6, 2004 in Ottawa. Additional communities and dates will be announced shortly. "The premier has made it very clear that our priority has to be protecting and improving the public services that Ontarians need and deserve. He has given me the job of finding the resources to make that happen," said Sorbara. Disponible en fran├žais For more information visit www.gov.on.ca/finFor further information: Diane Flanagan, Minister's Office, (416) 212-0634; Boni Fox Gray, Ministry of Finance, (416) 212-2155