Doug Ford's plan is 'furthest away' from balanced budget, economist says

Doug Ford still hasn’t explained how he’d pay for his long list of promises to Ontario voters, but an economist who crunched the numbers says the Progressive Conservative plan would eventually run larger deficits than both the NDP and Liberals.

Mike Moffatt, an economist with Western University’s Ivey Business School, took a closer look at the numbers behind the platforms of Ontario’s three main political parties.

Based on the information Ford has made public, Moffatt predicts the PCs would run the steepest deficits by their third and fourth year in office.

“The promises add to about $7 billion a year in tax cuts and spending. And it’s not clear where that $7 billion is going to come from,” Moffatt, who previously advised the federal Liberals on Ontario economics, told CTV Toronto on Wednesday.

Ford has vowed that, if elected premier next week, he’d run a deficit in his first year of government and eventually balance the provincial budget within a “responsible timeframe.”

Facing pressure from his opponents, Ford released a breakdown of how much his promises would cost on Wednesday. However, he still has not released a plan that shows where that money would come from.

In detail, Moffatt predicts that Andrea Horwath’s NDP government would have the lowest deficits, at $6.4 billion in their third year and $5 billion in their fourth year. The Liberals would run deficits of $6.5 billion in their third year and $5.6 billion in their fourth year.

Ford’s PC government is the costliest plan, Moffatt’s research predicts, with deficits of $6.9 billion in the third year and $7.6 billion in the fourth year.

“Right now I’m projecting the Tory platform is associated with the largest deficits, which is interesting given Ford’s discussion about balancing the budget. Right now we’re showing that he’s in fact the furthest away from doing so,” Moffatt said.

Moffatt published his findings online and wrote a brief article breaking down his process.

He admits that it’s been challenging to capture an accurate economic projection of a potential Ford government due to a lack of information from the PCs.

Ford has promised he’d find billions of dollars in “efficiencies” to pay for his plan, but Moffatt points out that Ford has not released an estimate of those savings, or explained where they’d come from.

Ford released his updated “Plan for the People” on Wednesday, which added price tags for each of his proposed initiatives. Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne said Ford’s update is not a fully costed plan and called it “not coherent.”

Horwath also slammed the plan, saying Ford needs to do more than release a "list of things he might do and put it on the internet."

Speaking near Sarnia, Ford shot back at the NDP, which has surged in several recent polls. Ford said his supporters understand what would happen if the province “went orange.”

“It would destroy companies here, it would destroy families, it would destroy family farms,” Ford said.

Horwath’s financial plan has also come under fire after a $1.4 billion annual costing mistake was discovered in the NDP platform.

Horwath has admitted that her party made a mistake, but said it only shows that the NDP deficit would be “a little bigger than expected.” Wynne and Ford have both said the mistake is evidence that Horwath isn’t fit to oversee the provincial budget.

Among Ford’s promises are to lower gas prices by 10 cents, create 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years, bring back “buck-a-beer,” and introduce a childcare rebate for families to cover up to 75 per cent of childcare expenses.

The election is June 7.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Colin D’Mello and The Canadian Press