The FAO produces regular reports analyzing the state of the Province's finances, trends in the provincial economy and estimates of the financial impact of bills or other proposals over which the Legislature has jurisdiction.
This report provides an updated Economic and Fiscal Outlook for Ontario based on developments since the release of the FAO’s spring outlook on May 31, 2017.
This report is an assessment of the financial risks Ontario electricity ratepayers and the Province of Ontario face as a result of the Province’s plan to secure a long-term supply of electricity generation by refurbishing nuclear reactors at the Bruce and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations and extending the life of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.
The FAO’s Long Term Budget Outlook assesses the budget implications of maintaining Ontario’s current fiscal structure through three decades of demographic transition.
As part of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, the government proposes to raise Ontario’s general minimum wage from its current rate of $11.40 per hour to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018 and $15 per hour the following year. While almost 1.6 million workers will benefit from the increase, a significant number of lower wage workers will lose their jobs and some businesses will struggle to cover higher payroll costs.
In the 2017 Budget, the government restated its commitment to reduce the net debt-to-GDP ratio to its pre-recession level of 27 per cent. The Province’s commitment is based on three unlikely assumptions. If any of these assumptions fall short of expectations, the government’s debt-to-GDP target would not be achieved.
The 2017 Ontario Budget projects balanced budgets beginning in 2017-18 and continuing over the next two years. Given the government’s spending plans, maintaining a balanced budget relies critically on an optimistic revenue forecast – and in particular, on very strong growth in tax revenues. However, there appears to be significant downside risk to the government’s forecast.
FAO backgrounders provide primarily descriptive information on issues of interest to Members of Provincial Parliament. Backgrounders are based on information that the FAO has received from the Province.
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 Province forecasts that it will collect $2.74 billion in service fee revenue in 2016-17. This backgrounder provides a partial list of changes to Provincial service fee rates planned for 2016-17 and includes a discussion of the growth rate of service fee revenue. Service fee revenue has increased by an average of 6.8% a year since 2011-12, largely due to the increase in revenue from vehicle and driver registration fees.