It’s understandable that Ontarians are cynical when it comes to budget deficit numbers. They’ve had years of training under the former Liberal government, which made an annual ritual of congratulating itself for achieving a lower deficit than it professed to expect. Not that the Liberals produced even a single balanced budget in the last decade, but they did create the impression of a determined crawl toward a distant target.
Then the PCs took power and shocked the public with the news that the deficit for 2018-19 would be $15 billion, far more than the $6.7 billion the free-spending Liberals had promised. That led to allegations that the PCs had inflated the number for political purposes.
Now, we find out that last year’s provincial deficit was actually $7.4 billion. Not an inconsiderable sum, but $4.3 billion less than the PCs had estimated back in the spring. What’s going on?