Construction Issues Raised in Ontario 2013 Fall Economic Update

On Thursday, the Ontario government released its Fall Economic Statement, an opportunity for the government to update its fiscal and economic plan and announce new measures. Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced the current outlook for Ontario’s 2013-14 deficit of $11.7 billion, unchanged from the May 2013 Budget. The province still has a goal of eliminating the deficit by 2017-18, but is not considering significant spending cuts to achieve that goal, due to slow economic growth. GDP growth expectations for 2013 are down slightly, from 1.5% in the May Budget, to 1.3%. For 2014, expectations are also down from the Budget, from 2.3% growth to 2.1%.

The province’s net debt is expected to hit $272 billion at the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year, representing a 39.3% debt-to-GDP ratio. The government’s stated goal is to restore this ratio to its pre-recession level of 27%, mostly through economic growth after the Budget is returned to balance.

Announced measures of greatest importance to the unionized ICI sector would include:

  • Apprenticeship
    • Pilot projects to increase opportunities for apprentices on Infrastructure Ontario (IO) projects; OCS is working closely with government officials on this effort to encourage apprenticeship hiring in publicly-funded construction
  • Infrastructure Investment
    • Enhancements to rules that would “enable companies of various sizes to compete and participate” in bids for provincially-funded projects; province will also work with international trade offices to find export opportunities for Ontario firms with experience in AFP projects
    • Government will introduce a bill that will require future governments to provide the legislature with 10-year spending plans for infrastructure – intended to help Ontario avoid prolonged periods with low infrastructure investment
    • Three measures to raise funds for public infrastructure:
      • A new Trillium Trust that will apply revenue gains from asset sales towards public infrastructure priorities;
      • Green Bonds – new public debt to be sold to institutional investors, with proceeds funding transit projects;
      • Regulatory changes that would allow pension plans to make larger investments in Ontario public infrastructure
    • Repeated its commitment to spend $35 billion over 3 years on infrastructure, including $13.5 billion in 2013-14
  • Specific Infrastructure Projects
    • Decisions on tax measures for funding Greater Toronto/Hamilton transit expansion were not announced; they may be revealed in the Spring 2014 Budget
    • Repeated its commitment to announce three new or expanded postsecondary campuses in early 2014

For more information, you can read and download the Minister’s speech and accompanying documents here:

http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/budget/fallstatement/2013/

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Perry Chao
Senior Policy Analyst
Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
940 The East Mall, Suite 120, Etobicoke, ON M9B 6J7
P 416.620.5210 ext. 241
F 416.620.5310
EMAIL: perryc@iciconstruction.com
Also check our website > www.iciconstruction.com