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Hudak claims Liberals using false deficit numbers to mislead public

Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives are accusing the minority Liberal government of deliberately misleading the public with “fake” figures on the size of the province’s deficit.

PC Leader Tim Hudak said leaked cabinet documents show the Liberals never had any real expectation to meet the $24.7-billion deficit figure they announced in 2009-10.

“Taxpayers rightly expect a clear plan to eliminate those deficits and every province will have balanced its budget before Ontario, every province,” Hudak said at Queen’s Park on Monday.

Hudak accused the Liberals of making up deficit reduction targets with no real plan to achieve them by 2017-18.

“When we see the Liberal government playing these types of card tricks and fiscal slight of hand — that’s going to undermine the confidence of the province and that means investment goes and so goes the jobs,” he said.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa admits the deficit will be up in this week’s budget, but claims the province can still balance the books by 2017-18.

Sousa also said the deficit for 2014-15 will be higher than the $11.3 billion deficit in 2013.

The finance minister will deliver the provincial budget at the Ontario legislature at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The Liberal minority government is facing the possibility of a spring election but Wynne said she would “partner” with the Conservatives or the NDP — or, if necessary, voters to push the transit plan through.

Sousa announced the date of a budget at a press conference on April 15. Wynne said the budget will “present a fair, balanced, realistic plan to create jobs for today and tomorrow.”

With files from Christine Chubb