The fiscal position of the provincial and local governments in Ontario has deteriorated compared to other provinces since the global recession in 2008-2009.
Statistics Canada’s recent survey of investment intentions revealed that total investment by Ontario businesses and public sector institutions is expected to edge down by 0.1% to $69.5 billion in 2016. This follows two strong consecutive increases of 11.5% and 9.6% in 2014 and 2015.
Ontario’s 2016 Budget reaffirmed the government’s commitment to eliminate the budget deficit by 2017-18, and to maintain a balanced budget going forward. The Province’s plan continues to rely on relatively optimistic assumptions for revenue growth combined with aggressive plans to limit the growth in program spending. Maintaining balanced budgets beyond 2017-18 will likely prove challenging as new spending pressures emerge and revenue growth remains moderate.
On February 5, Statistics Canada released international merchandise trade data for December 2015, which included annual Ontario exports and imports by trade category and country. According to Statistics Canada’s report, Ontario finished 2015 with a seemingly strong 10.5% increase in the value of its international exports, which followed an equally strong 8.0% gain in 2014.
On January 15, the Ministry of Finance released its quarterly Ontario Economic Accounts (OEA) report, showing that the province’s economy posted relatively strong economic growth in the third (July to September) quarter of 2015. Ontario real GDP increased 3.5% (annualized) in Q3, the strongest gain in a year.
On January 8, Statistics Canada (StatCan) released the Labour Force Survey (LFS) for December 2015, providing the first complete annual estimate of the economy’s performance in 2015. The release showed that while Ontario posted a solid job gain in December (+35,000 jobs on a month-to-month basis), on an annual basis, Ontario’s labour market continued to grow modestly in 2015.