September 13, 2012 / 1:47 PM / 5 years ago

Ontario budget deficit less than expected

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario's minority Liberal government said on Thursday it was eliminating its budget deficit faster than projected, crediting recent efforts to restrain program spending, and higher-than-expected revenues.

The province's deficit for the 2011-12 fiscal year ending March 31 was C$13 billion ($13.3 billion), according to the finance ministry's public accounts. The figure is down from the C$15.3 billion shortfall targeted in the March budget.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told reporters the government is two years ahead of where it thought it would be but that it is not changing its target to balance the budget by 2017-18.

Program spending was up 0.9 percent from the year before, the second-lowest advance in 10 years, according to the release.

It said spending on programs such as health care and interest on debt was C$122.7 billion, C$2.2 billion under the forecast last year. Revenues came in at C$109.8 billion, C$0.5 billion above the target in the 2011-12 budget.

The government also said it used C$700 million in reserve funds towards cutting the deficit.

Editing by James Dalgleish

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