Ontario’s debt is rated by four principal international credit rating agencies, which typically publish an annual update of their view of the province’s finances and the quality of Ontario’s debt.
Following the tabling of Ontario’s 2016 Budget, each of the four rating agencies affirmed their current rating of Ontario’s debt, indicating that they believe the province has taken adequate steps on both revenues and expenditures to achieve its plan to restore fiscal balance by 2017-18.
However, if Ontario’s fiscal position deteriorates beyond 2017-18, either through an easing of expenditure restraint or unexpected revenue weakness, the agencies could be expected to lower Ontario’s credit rating, which could lead to higher borrowing costs and a more challenging fiscal position.
The FAO’s 2015-16 annual report describes the FAO’s activities during the office’s first full year of work and examines the unexpected challenges the FAO has faced in accessing information.
The FAO’s Economic and Fiscal Outlook is released each spring and fall, providing an assessment of Ontario’s medium-term economic and fiscal outlook.
This report is the FAO’s first review of the current economic outlook and the state of the provincial government’s finances.
Keep up-to-date with the latest news, reports and commentaries from the FAO.
Home energy costs, the costs Ontarians pay to heat and cool their homes and power their appliances, are a pocket-book issue for Ontarians and a frequent topic of debate in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly. Ontario home energy costs are higher than in Quebec, Manitoba, and British Columbia, but lower than in Atlantic Canada and Alberta. The share of after-tax income spent by Ontarians on home energy costs is similar to shares in Quebec and Manitoba, significantly less than in Atlantic Canada, but higher than in Alberta and British Columbia. From 2010 to 2014, Ontarians experienced average increases in home energy costs relative to residents of other provinces.
The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) expects the Province’s net debt to rise by over $50 billion by 2020-21 to $350 billion. Understanding the nature of the risks of debt to the Province’s fiscal plan can help Members of Provincial Parliament in assessing any debt management and/or reduction strategy.
The Province’s debt burden is one of the highest among provincial governments in Canada. Ontario’s net debt increased significantly during the 2008-09 recession, and grew by $139 billion between 2007-08 and 2015-16. Ontario’s liabilities include non-market and market debt, which consists mainly of publicly held bonds, treasury bills, and US commercial paper issued in Canadian dollars and foreign currencies. Given the characteristics of Ontario’s debt (composition, interest rates, when it is due to be repaid and currency in which it is issued), interest rate risk is the most important risk associated with the Province’s debt. There is uncertainty surrounding the future level of interest rates due to market fluctuations and Ontario’s credit risk. All else equal, an increase in interest rates would lead to higher interest payments, which would reduce the Province’s fiscal flexibility.
The fiscal position of the provincial and local governments in Ontario has deteriorated compared to other provinces since the global recession in 2008-2009.