Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Finance Minister, has announced his first budget will be delivered on Thursday, May 2 at 4:00 pm.
It is expected this budget will include new funding to expand public transit in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA).
Minister Sousa has promised the coming budget will show what new taxes, tolls or levies the province will use to pay for public transit expansion.
In a speech to the Economic Club today (Monday, April 22), Sousa revealed that the Liberal Party has cut $5 billion off the deficit in the last year; revising the provincial deficit to $9.8 billion, down from the projected $14.8 billion.
Minister Sousa also went on to give Ontario a bit of insight into what Thursday will bring. He promised the government will hold program spending to just 1% growth, maintain current level of corporate taxes, and possibly introduce income walls to the clean energy benefit.
However, it was transit that will be front and centre when the budget is tabled later this week.
Sousa reiterated Premier Kathleen Wynne’s promise that any taxes or tolls to fund transit in the GTHA would only apply to the applicable region.
“This budget is going to be just. This budget is going to be fair. This budget is going to be right,” Sousa said.
It is with that in mind that Sousa has pledged to incorporate the ideas of the other parties. Given the minority standing of the provincial legislature, Wynne and Sousa will have to secure the support of at least two additional votes to ensure passage of the budget.
The Progressive Conservative (PC) Party has already stated they will vote against the budget regardless of what it contains. This leaves the government dependent on the votes of the New Democratic Party (NDP). The NDP has given the government a list of five demands, with a cut to auto insurance rates and additional funding for home care being first and foremost.
“This won’t be a budget that reflects only our government’s priorities,” Sousa announced.
Will this proverbial olive branch be enough to maintain this government in the wake of rumours the PC Party is hankering for an election?
Only time will tell.
Both the PC Party and the NDP have come out against the creation of new revenue tolls for transit. Sarah Thomson, CEO and Publisher of the Women’s Post and previous candidate for Mayor of Toronto, has been leading the Toronto Transit Alliance in its call for a 1% regional sales tax.