Ontario plans pre-election budget on March 29
TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario's ruling Liberal government has set March 29 as the date for the Canadian province's next budget, its last before an election scheduled for the fall.
The budget for Ontario, Canada's manufacturing hub and most populous province, will come one week after its federal counterpart.
Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said last week there would be no new taxes or tax hikes in the budget, despite an expected C$18.7 billion ($19.3 billion) deficit this year.
Instead, he pledged to cut taxes for low- and middle-income Ontarians by C$1.2 billion. The Liberals have also emphasized healthcare and education spending will remain a priority.
Ontario gave its last fiscal update in November, when it said the province was on track to return to balance by 2017-18.
The Ontario election is mandated to take place on October 6. The latest polls show the opposition Progressive Conservatives taking an early lead.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty faces voter discontent over rising electricity rates and the 2009 blending of provincial and federal sales taxes, which increased the cost of some goods and services.
Voter anger over tax increases helped fuel the election last year of Rob Ford, a right-leaning populist, as mayor of Toronto.
The upcoming budget and election will also be closely watched for any impact on the province's budding renewable energy industry.
(Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)
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