Like other Canadian provinces, Ontario’s finances, and its plan to achieve fiscal balance, have been negatively impacted by the COVID crisis. The broad range of measures taken by governments at all levels to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, such as stay at home orders and capacity restrictions, have had a negative impact on Ontario’s economy. This was mitigated somewhat by fiscal measures, such as direct transfers to individuals and wage supports to businesses, implemented by both the Ontario and the federal government.
All told, Ontario has recorded large budgetary deficits in fiscals 2020-21 and 2021-22 and its debt burden has risen markedly. Ontario’s fiscal deficits are projected to persist in the medium term, as the economy continues to recover from the depths of this crisis. Moreover, it is likely that the need to increase spending in key areas identified during this crisis, such as to address surge capacity at hospitals and inadequacies in long-term care homes, will likely lead to elevated pressures on the province’s finances and debt burden, which ultimately will negatively impact the province’s credit metrics.
Joining us to discuss prospects for the province’s economic and fiscal outlook and the potential impact of the deterioration on its credit metrics is Rebekah Young, Director of Fiscal & Provincial Economics at Scotiabank and Douglas Offerman, Senior Director at Fitch Ratings.
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Rebekah Young joined Scotiabank in 2019 as Director, Fiscal & Provincial Economics. Prior to joining Scotiabank, Rebekah worked at the executive board of IMF. She was also a senior official at the federal Department of Finance in Ottawa working on a range of topics, from development economics, to the federal budget, to green finance issues. Rebekah leads our work on provincial and federal economic and fiscal forecasts, public policy issues, and the global auto sector. She holds a B.A. in Chemical Engineering from McGill University, an M.Sc. in Environmental Policy from the London School of Economics in London, England, and an MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France and Singapore.
Douglas Offerman is a Senior Director in Fitch Ratings’ Public Finance Department. He is Fitch’s team leader on coverage of Canadian local and regional governments. He also covers several U.S. state credits, including general obligation and dedicated tax ratings, and he is Fitch’s subject matter expert for U.S. defined benefit pensions and other post-employment benefits. Doug was previously a financial consultant for several large, health care-related nonprofit organizations in New York City, served as a research analyst working on New York State and City budget, labor and operational issues at the Citizens Budget Commission, and held positions in the U.S. federal government at the U.S. Information Agency and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office. Doug earned a B.A. in History from U.C.L.A. and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.
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