Friday, July 19, 2024

Ontario’s finance minister releases first quarter report

Today Ontario’s finance minister Peter Bethlenfalvy released the 2023-24 First Quarter Finances which provides updated information about the province’s economic and fiscal outlook primarily as of June 30, and since the 2023 Ontario Budget.

“The First Quarter Finances report shows that our government’s targeted, responsible approach is the right plan to build and support growing communities across Ontario,” said Bethlenfalvy. “The people of Ontario can have confidence that this government is making responsible decisions to deliver on our Plan to Build by supporting people and businesses today while laying a strong fiscal foundation for future generations.”

In the first calendar quarter of 2023, Ontario’s real gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.0 per cent, supported by growth in exports and household spending, the report said. This follows a slight decline of 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2022. As of the first quarter, Ontario’s real GDP stood 4.9 per cent higher than the pre-pandemic level in the final quarter of 2019. Since the 2023 Ontario Budget, private-sector forecasters have raised their GDP projections for 2023, reflecting better-than-expected economic performance so far this year. Expectations for GDP growth however have declined for 2024, due to the impact of Bank of Canada’s rapid policy interest rate increases — the fastest rise in the key policy interest rate since 1981 — and continued economic uncertainty.

As of the 2023–24 First Quarter Finances, the province’s 2023–24 deficit is projected to be $1.3 billion — unchanged from the outlook published in the 2023 Ontario Budget. Revenues in 2023–24 are projected to be $204.4 billion, and expenses are projected to be $204.7 billion, largely unchanged from the budget projections. New investments, funded from existing contingencies, include supports for Ontario’s manufacturing sector, policing and anti-crime initiatives, and municipal infrastructure.

Following the 2023 Ontario Budget, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and DBRS Morningstar have all placed Ontario’s credit ratings on positive outlook, while Fitch confirmed Ontario’s credit rating with a stable outlook.

Overall program expenses in 2023–24 are projected to be $190.6 billion, largely unchanged from the outlook presented in the 2023 Ontario Budget. New commitments announced since the release of the 2023 Ontario Budget are primarily funded through existing contingencies within the fiscal plan.

The province plans to provide its next economic and fiscal update as part the 2023 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review by November 15.

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