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Salaries key item to watch in budget

Ahead of Thursday's budget, Vic Fedeli, the PC Party's genial finance critic, held a news conference to distribute a book.

OK, Focus on Finance 2, subtitled A Look Into Ontario's Finances, isn't going to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature, but you have to applaud Fedeli, a successful businessman and a former mayor of North Bay, for his persistence in doggedly attempting to hold the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne to account for their spending habits.

Wedged between chapters with pithy titles such as "California Dreaming; Ontario's Nightmare" and "My big fat Greek Ontario," Fedeli outlines just how this province got so deeply in debt with scandals such as the $1-billion gas plant boondoggle and its inability to control spending.

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Safe but prudent budget

Finally a balanced budget. It's what we've been waiting for. In many ways balancing a budget -- particularly with a sliver of a surplus at $1.4 billion -- is just symbolic. But it's a symbol that matters.

The truth is the government of the day doesn't have a lot of room to manoeuvre when it comes to the budget total. So many billions are already tied up in transfers to persons and other levels of government.

But the budget process is still a window into a government's priorities. And we like this government's priorities.

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Liberals piling on debt: Report

The Ontario Liberal government has added $117 billion in debt since the recession of 2008-09 and risks further credit downgrades if it doesn't reform its spending ways, a new report says.

Ontario's Debt Balloon, by author Jean-Francois Wen of the Fraser Institute says most of the borrowed money--the equivalent of $7,800 per person in the province -- was used to cover regular operating expenses rather than invest in long-term projects.

Premier Kathleen Wynne's plan to make large investments in infrastructure such as transit and roads over the next decade will ensure that debt keeps growing even if her government meets its goal to balance the books by 2017-18, says the report released Wednesday.

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Ontario deficit lower than projected

Ontario's deficit will come in significantly lower than projected - $10.9 billion instead of the forecasted $12.5 billion, Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced Tuesday.

"Last year when I tabled our budget, I said there would be a deficit of $12.5 billion," Sousa said, according to his speech notes. "We worked very hard and reduced that by $1.6 billion. I am pleased to say today that the deficit is $10.9 billion."

Sousa said his government, which will release a new budget later this spring, is on track to return to balanced budgets by 2017-18 as promised.

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Federal budget will be balanced, regardless of slumping oil prices: Oliver

Never mind the naysayer economists.

The federal government will balance this year's budget, despite falling oil prices, according to Finance Minister Joe Oliver.

TD Bank, in a report yesterday, became the latest institution to warn plummeting crude costs could leave Ottawa with a $2.3 billion deficit at the end of 2015.

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