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Wynne pledges to tackle Ontario deficit

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

TORONTO - 

Premier-designate Kathleen Wynne says she's got her eye on Ontario's ballooning debt problem.

"It is obviously critical that we tackle the deficit and we get to the point where we can be paying down the debt," Wynne said Thursday. "And so I've said that I'm going to remain on track to balance the budget by 2017-18 and as we develop our Throne Speech and work into our budget, that's the work that I'll be doing."

A report by the Fraser Institute says Ontario is heading toward a fiscal crisis where the net debt could swell to 66% of GDP by 2019-20.

Ontario's situation is somewhere between California and Greece -- not a great place to be, the report suggests.

Tory MPP Rod Jackson said the new premier-designate should take immediate steps to make the debt crisis a priority.

"So far we haven't seen any real bold action on it," Jackson said. "We've been calling for a legislated across-the-board wage freeze for all public servants for over a year now."

The Fraser Institute report, The State of Ontario's Indebtedness -- Warning Signs to Act, says that the Ontario Liberal government needs to curb the rate of growth in spending, particularly in health care and education.

The debt has grown by 571% since 1990-91, hitting $236.6 billion as of 2010-11.

 


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