On Tuesday, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released its Expenditure Monitor 2019-20: Q4. This report provides information on spending by the Province through the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year (March 31, 2020), including changes to the 2019-20 spending plan, actual spending results compared to planned spending and an updated budget deficit projection for 2019-20.
Since the tabling of the 2019 Ontario Budget, the Province increased its spending plan by a net $2.6 billion, through Supplementary Estimates (tabled in December 2019) and program budget reallocations. The budgets for electricity subsidy programs (up $1.6 billion) and children’s and social services (up $0.8 billion) received the largest increases.
Although the Province increased its 2019-20 spending plan by $2.6 billion, by the end of 2019-20 actual spending was $3.5 billion below plan. The most significant underspending was achieved in interest on debt ($1.0 billion under budget), health ($0.5 billion under budget), investments in public transit ($0.4 billion under budget), electricity subsidy programs ($0.2 billion under budget) and the Contingency Fund ($0.4 billion in lapsed spending).
Using the FAO’s updated revenue forecast and the Province’s actual spending in 2019-20, the FAO projects a 2019-20 interim budget deficit of $8.7 billion, an improvement of $0.5 billion compared to the government’s budget deficit forecast of $9.2 billion in its March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update (March 2020 Update). The FAO estimates that 2019-20 total revenue will be $2.0 billion lower than the government’s forecast in the March 2020 Update, reflecting the evolving 2020 economic outlook due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while total expense will be $2.3 billion lower, based on more up-to-date information on provincial spending.
Overall, 2019-20 spending was 2.2 per cent lower than planned.
Spending in the health sector finished the year $466 million under budget, including:
$49 million under budget for public health programs;
$65 million under budget for hospitals, long-term care homes and community programs; and
$314 million under budget for hospital infrastructure projects.