Ontario 2013-14 budget deficit estimated to be C$11.3 billion

Thu Apr 3, 2014 2:02pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario's budget deficit was estimated to be C$11.3 billion in 2013-14, smaller than the minority Liberal government's previous target of C$11.7 billion, the province's finance minister Charles Sousa said on Thursday.

Speaking at a business lunch in Toronto, Sousa also reaffirmed the government's plan to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18. Sousa attributed the C$400 million deficit reduction - compared to the government's last fiscal update in November - to "prudent management of spending."

He said the government will release its 2014-15 budget in the next few weeks.

That budget could to lead to an election in the coming months, as Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne has had to deal with a scandal over the costly cancellation of two natural gas power plants by her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, whom she replaced in February 2013.

The center-left Liberals have been in power for 10 years in Ontario, Canada's most populous province and home to most of the Canada's banks and a large part of its manufacturing sector. But the party needs support from at least one other party to pass the budget, and avoid triggering an election.

The left-leaning New Democratic Party supported last year's budget, and will be key to this year's version passing, as the right-leaning Progressive Conservatives are unlikely to support the document.

The Liberals currently hold 48 of the 107 seats in the Ontario legislature, while the Conservatives hold 37 and the NDP hold 21.

(Reporting by Cameron French, writing by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa speaks to journalists before the start of a meeting with federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers at Meech Lake in Chelsea, Quebec December 16, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie