EDITORIAL: How the Ontario Liberals buried us in debt 
Ontario SUN: First posted: Saturday, August 05, 2017
In his April budget speech, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said the provincial budget would be balanced this year, next year, and the year after that.
He repeated the phrase “balanced budget” 10 times, adding “a balanced budget gives us the means to shape our future and build a fairer society.”
In Liberal speak, this means things like bigger pay raises for public servants, which Premier Kathleen Wynne has already seen to, so there won’t be any inconvenient labour disruptions heading into the June, 2018 election.
But, as the Fraser Institute explained in a report last week on Ontario’s finances, all is not rosy for Ontarians on the deficit front.
That’s because the Liberals accumulated debt for this year is projected at $311.9 billion, almost 125% higher than the $138.8 billion debt the Liberals inherited from the Progressive Conservatives when they came to power in 2003.
Interest still has to be paid on that $311.9 billion by taxpayers, at a rate of almost $1 billion a month, or $11.6 billion annually.
If interest on debt — which doesn’t reduce the principal — was a government department, it would be the fourth largest after health, education and community services.
That’s $11.6 billion a year that doesn’t go to the purchase of more MRIs, improved public transit, better drug coverage under OHIP or lower taxes.
The Fraser study assessed Wynne’s pledge to reduce the government’s debt-to-GDP ratio, a key indicator of fiscal health, from the alarming level of 39.1% it reached in 2014/15, to a pre-recession level of 26% to 27% by 2029/30.
Study authors Ben Eisen, Charles Lammam and David Watson expressed their conclusion in the title of their study.
They called it “Wishful Thinking: An Analysis of Ontario’s Timeline for Shrinking Its Debt Burden.”
Among the problems, the government’s plan calls for its debt burden to increase by an average of $11.4 billion annually for the next three years, down only slightly from its $11.6 billion average for the last three.
Because of this, from 2015/16 to 2020/21, the government’s plan would see an annual reduction in the debt-to-GDP ratio of only 0.4%, meaning it would take about 25 more years, double the time the government is claiming, to return to pre-recession debt levels.
Achieving this goal by 2029/30, the study says, would require a decrease in the debt-to-GDP ratio in the final years of the fiscal plan almost triple the current rate, for which the government has not provided any data.
Finally, the government’s plan assumes the Ontario economy will continue expanding, uninterrupted, for the next 12 years, a very optimistic prediction.
In other words, it looks like the Wynne government’s plan to lower its debt-to-GDP ratio heading into next year’s election, is a financial house of cards.
Read more in the Toronto Sun: 
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