Higher costs for student loans – including for college learners whose courses were extended because of a fall strike — forced the province to dip into its $500 million reserve fund in the third quarter.
But Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Thursday the Liberal government remains “on track” to balance its budget before the June 7 election.
The finance department’s report on three months ending Dec. 31 said “greater demand” for free tuition following the early launch of Ontario Student Assistance Plan applications pushed costs up by $118 million.
Another $20 million went to college students following a five-week strike that forced some programs to continue into the New Year.
The government spent a further $8 million to provide fare discounts to PRESTO card users transferring from GO Transit lines or the Union-Pearson Express to the TTC.
Overall, expenses in the quarter were $215 million more than forecast in last spring’s budget.
Revenues came in $115 million higher, with drops in personal income taxes and land transfer taxes offset by higher revenues from corporation taxes and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.