The Ford government is preparing to present a budget that will serve as a platform for the 2022 elections | The Canadian News

TORONTO — The Progressive Conservative government of Ontario today unveils its budget, which will be set as its electoral platform, and includes new promises on the expansion of the 401 Freeway.

A senior government source says the plan is to suspend the legislature after the budget is tabled, meaning it won’t be passed before the expected start of the election campaign next week.

High-ranking government sources say the budget will have five themes, one of which is the construction of roads and hospitals, and comes with a spending plan of $158 billion over 10 years.

Of that planned spending, $21.5 billion would be for highway planning, expansion and rehabilitation and would include a new twin bridge over the Welland Canal at Queen Elizabeth Way and the widening of Highway 401 in eastern Ontario beginning in Pickering and Oshawa.

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The government has recently made a series of hospital spending announcements, including more than $2.1 billion for projects across the province.

Sources say the other four budget items are rebuilding the economy, workers, keeping costs down for people and a plan to stay open.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy addressed many of those issues in a recent speech, saying “the Ontario Renaissance is here.”

“When our grandchildren and great-grandchildren look at their own maps of Ontario, they will be amazed at how much we built in the 2020s,” he said.

He emphasized investments in highways, transit, job training, manufacturing and health care. The government also recently announced that it would spend an additional $1 billion on home care over three years.

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The Ontario Office of Financial Responsibility released a report earlier this month saying the province is currently on track to balance its budget for next year, but spending plans may well change due to the upcoming election.

A new party could be in power after June 2, and even if the Progressive Conservatives win re-election, they have not given a recent update on when they will seek to eliminate the deficit.

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The 2021-22 deficit was projected by the FAO to be $8.7bn, down from the $13.1bn the government forecast when Bethlenfalvy published third-quarter financials earlier this year.

At the time, the government projected a net debt of $395 billion.

The budget was originally supposed to be submitted by March 31, but the government changed legislation to delay it, a move it said would provide more time to assess the impacts of recovery from the pandemic.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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