Finance Minister kicks off pre-budget discussions in Ottawa

Archived Release

Finance Minister kicks off pre-budget discussions in Ottawa

Ministry of Finance

OTTAWA, Feb. 6 - Finance Minister Greg Sorbara today kicked off the first in a series of Finance ministry-led stakeholder consultations, part of the McGuinty government's unprecedented engagement of Ontarians in the budget making process. "The 2004 Budget will be critical to this province's future," said Sorbara. "It's going to signal a new era of transparency, accountability and above all, a commitment to the public services Ontarians need and want most. I want to make sure that we draw on the expertise and ideas of stakeholder and community groups in Ottawa as we develop a plan to bring the Province back to good fiscal health." The province's deficit outlook for 2003-04 is $5.6 billion. Without further action, the province will experience future deficits of approximately $4.5 billion, based on current revenue forecasts, and if spending growth is maintained at recent levels. The government has clearly indicated that it intends to live within its means. In December 2003, the Minister of Finance released three scenarios for reducing or moderating future spending growth that could eliminate the deficit in any of the next three years. To balance the budget in 2004-05, total spending would have to decline by 2.6 per cent from the projected 2003-04 level. To balance by 2005-06, spending growth must be held to a maximum of 1.3 per cent on average for the next two years. Balancing by 2006-07 requires spending growth to be held to an average of 2.3 per cent a year for three years. "We are going across the province to ask stakeholders and experts to tell us how we can best meet our priorities while living within our means," said Sorbara. "And, we want them to help us define exactly what success in meeting those priorities will mean four, five or six years from now." The Ministry of Finance's yearly pre-budget discussions are part of an ongoing dialogue between the McGuinty government and the citizens of Ontario. The next three Finance Pre-Budget Discussions will be held on February 17th in Hamilton, February 18th in Brampton and February 23rd in Windsor. Additional sessions are planned for Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Stratford and Toronto. For updated information, please visit the Ministry of Finance Web site at www.gov.on.ca/fin and click on "Hot Topics". Disponible en françaisFor further information: Contact: Diane Flanagan, Minister's Office, (416) 212-0634, (416) 918-1894 (cell); Boni Fox Gray, Ministry of Finance, (416) 212-2155