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Two-Part Harmony

The Hon. Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance, has just wrapped up Ontario’s 2009-2010 budget announcement at Queen’s Park. Surprising nobody, the theme of his speech was the need to address Ontario’s declining economy: Duncan began by saying that “our province is in the middle of a global economic and financial storm… we have seen a serious deterioration in our fiscal position.” Ontario’s deficit will come in at $14.1 billion in 2009-2010, and a return to balanced budgets is predicted to take several years. To tackle the province’s weakened state the Liberals are proposing a stimulus package ($32.5 billion over the next two years for infrastructure projects, predicted to create 300,000 new jobs, and $300 million for green economy initiatives); tax relief ($10.6 billion spread over personal and business tax cuts); assistance measures (social assistance rates will go up by 2%); and a new harmonized federal-provincial value-added tax. So far, commenters are noting that Ontario’s budget follows the pattern set by the federal government, perhaps signalling that relations between the two are improving somewhat.

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