Ontario sees likelihood budget balanced early
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario, Canada's most populous province, may be able to eliminate its budget deficit before its 2017-18 target given economic growth prospects, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said on Thursday.
"There is more likelihood right now but again I did not amend the plan or the times around the plan because of uncertainty, particularly in the U.S.," he told Reuters in a phone interview from New York.
"We've laid out what we think is a very reasonable plan and my hope is that we will continue to exceed our deficit reduction targets on an annual basis."
The province last month maintained near-term deficit targets but lowered its 2010-11 deficit forecast by C$1 billion ($990 million) to C$18.7 billion.
Duncan, in New York to tout the province's merits to international investors, said the city of Toronto would be on the hook for financial penalties if new mayor Rob Ford breaks contracts by scrapping a multibillion dollar public transit plan.
"That would be the responsibility of Toronto. But hopefully the mayor seems confident that those penalties can be dealt with in the context of investments in subway versus the LRT (light rail transit)," Duncan said.
"We'll continue to work with the municipality as we move forward."
But he rejected the idea that the city would have to repay investments already made by the province toward the plan. Continued...