UPDATE 1-Ontario says 2012-13 deficit smaller than expected

Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:46pm EDT
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* Budget to be unveiled May 2

* Minister trims 2013 growth outlook to 1.5 pct from 2.2 pct

* Gov't needs the support of another party to avoid election

By Cameron French

TORONTO, April 22 (Reuters) - Ontario's budget deficit was C$9.8 billion ($9.54 billion) in 2012-13, down from the minority Liberal government's January forecast of C$11.9 billion, provincial Finance Minister Charles Sousa said on Monday.

In the text of a speech to be delivered at a business lunch in Toronto, Sousa said the government will deliver its 2013-14 budget on May 2.

The smaller-than-expected deficit could help ease the way for the Liberals, under new Premier Kathleen Wynne, to win the support of the left-leaning New Democratic Party in the provincial legislature and avoid a snap election.

Sousa said the government expects Ontario's economy to grow 1.5 percent in 2013, down from its previous 2.2 percent forecast, and he maintained the government's target of balancing the budget by 2017-18.

The Liberals' C$11.9 billion deficit forecast in January was itself a sharp reduction from the C$14.4 billion the government projected last fall.   Continued...