Statement from the Minister of Finance on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Ontario's Economy
TORONTO — Today, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance issued the following statement in response to the impact of COVID-19 on Ontario's finances and economy:
"The events of recent weeks have caused anxiety for individuals, families and businesses across our province and around the world. As I said last week, these developments are the latest reminder that Ontario is part of an integrated global economy. As Premier Ford has made clear, our government will ensure the necessary resources are in place to protect the health of people and our economy in this province.
Circumstances have changed rapidly in recent days. Markets around the world are volatile. Employers and workers are feeling the economic impacts. The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. During that time, I have been in frequent conversations with various experts, my fellow finance ministers, business and union leaders, and my colleagues at Queen's Park.
At the request of Premier Ford, I have convened a regular meeting of the ministers in our government who share economic responsibilities. The work of that committee includes reaching out on a daily basis to leaders at businesses big and small, including at our financial institutions, as well as unions, to ensure we have the latest information, and that there is an open line of communication as the government works to address COVID-19's impact on the economy.
In response to events here at home and around the world, private-sector economists have revised the economic outlook used to develop the 2020 Ontario Budget scheduled to be released next Wednesday.
As Ontario's Minister of Finance, it is important that I introduce a financial plan for the province that is as current as possible given the dynamic situation. So instead of a full Budget, I will release an economic and fiscal update on March 25 based on our best understanding of the current situation.
This update will include a realistic one-year outlook based on current economic projections. It will provide certainty to hospitals, schools, municipalities, and other partners for the year to come. Our approach will include increased resources for our healthcare system, direct support for people, and action to protect jobs and our economy. This is a responsible course that maintains confidence and stability, while providing the flexibility to respond quickly to changing events.
We will build on our record of transparency, with regular financial updates as the situation evolves. We will ensure the people of Ontario are informed by the most up-to-date information that is available. And as you all know, that information is changing rapidly.
It will also allow for close collaboration with our partners, including the federal government, to protect Ontario's economy. Experience has shown this work is most effective when governments collaborate. This is exactly what I have proposed to the federal government.
I was pleased to sit down with my colleague, Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau in Ottawa last week. We have stayed in close contact over the weekend and I'll be participating in a call with all of the provincial finance ministers later today.
Our government will make additional resources available to ensure Ontario's health-care system is able to respond to any scenario. Our health-care professionals have our backs. They can be confident their government has theirs.
Finally, I want to reiterate Premier Ford's commitment to support people throughout this crisis. From washing your hands to checking in on the most vulnerable among us, the people of Ontario are acting responsibly and doing their part during this global pandemic. Their government will do its part as well. Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton just spoke about some important measures in that regard.
Ontario's has strong economic fundamentals. We have more fiscal flexibility to respond to these sort of global events through actions we've taken over the previous 18 months. I'm confident that by acting decisively, and working together with our partners, Ontario is well positioned to weather the challenges ahead."