Ontario will have $15B deficit, not the $6.7B the Liberals projected: finance minister

Vic Fedeli says the previous government did not balance the budget as it reported: the province’s public account shows a $3.7 billion deficit in 2017-18

TORONTO — Ontario’s finance minister says an independent commission that probed the province’s books has found the government ran a multi-billion-dollar deficit in the last fiscal year.

In a speech to the Economic Club in Toronto — his first major address since becoming finance minister this summer — Vic Fedeli says the previous Liberal government did not balance the budget as it reported.

Fedeli says that with the commission’s findings factored in, the province’s public account shows a $3.7 billion deficit in 2017-18.

He further says the province will run a $15-billion deficit this fiscal year, not $6.7 billion as the Liberals projected. Fedeli did not provide details as to how the commission arrived at that number.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford (left) speaks with Provincial Finance Minister Vic Fedeli on Monday, September 17, 2018.

The Progressive Conservative government announced the independent inquiry in July and tasked it with probing the Liberal regime’s accounting methods surrounding a pair of teacher pension plans and the province’s Fair Hydro Plan.

Those accounting practices had led to a two-year fight with Ontario’s auditor general, who said in April that the Liberals understated their deficits by billions.

Bonnie Lysyk suggested that the $6.7-billion deficit projected by the Liberals for 2018-2019 would be $11.7 billion instead, and the projected $6.5 billion for 2020-2021 would actually be $12.5 billion.

The Conservatives have also commissioned a line-by-line audit of government spending, which is expected to be finished in the coming weeks.