Premier Kathleen Wynne's government has unveiled billions of dollars in new spending promises over the past week as her government faces a tough fight to cling to power in a looming spring election.
The province also says the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, created to manage sales and distribution of recreational pot, expects an $8-million loss in 2017-2018, followed by a $40-million loss in 2018-19, largely due to startup costs.
The Ontario Liberal pre-election budget, tabled Wednesday afternoon, carries a 6.7 billion dollar deficit for this coming fiscal year.
The province's budget is not expected to be balanced until 2024-2025. Ford argues that the government can not take care of people when it is billions of dollars in debt.
About $2.2 billion over three years is earmarked for a free child care program, set to begin in fall 2020, for children aged two-and-a-half until they begin junior kindergarten. "It's time to decide if we'll keep going & make it more affordable to raise a child in Ontario- or go backwards & cut programs that make a real difference at a time when families need that support". "It's the people working at those companies who are my priority".
Under a promised new drug and dental program, Ontarians lacking workplace health insurance would get up to $700 a year to defray the cost of medicines and dentist visits starting in summer 2019.
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With an election scheduled for June 7, the new program will depend on the support of the party that forms government later this year.
The budget doesn't include a change to the funding formula for rural schools to prevent further closures, he said, or anything significant for farmers or to provide long-term relief from rising hydro costs.
Ontarians want an end to "this scandal-ridden government", she said, and "are exhausted of broken promises and wasteful spending".
"I think Quebec's yields will continue to be below Ontario for quite some time", said Sebastien Lavoie, chief economist at Laurentian Bank.
The federal government has presently introduced full-day preschool and is now systematically including pre-school care for young children, he pointed out.
"We need to make certain that we can afford the things we do", he said.