Ontario launching infrastructure bank with $3B in public funding

peter beth qp cp

Ontario is proposing to launch its own infrastructure bank, with an initial $3 billion in public funding, in order to help foot the bill for the Progressive Conservative government's plans for long-term care homes and transit projects.

The Ontario Infrastructure Bank would be an arms-length agency enabling pension plans and other institutional investors to help fund what the province says is an infrastructure deficit, as the government plans to spend $185 billion in the next 10 years on building roads, transit and hospitals.

It is the biggest-ticket item in the province's fall economic statement tabled today by Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy.

The fiscal update also shows a larger deficit for this fiscal year, and has the province delaying its path to balance by a year.

The spring budget projected a $1.3-billion deficit this year, then getting to balance in 2024-25 with a small surplus, but today's update has Ontario $5.6 billion in the red this year and with a $5.3-billion deficit next year, followed by a small surplus in 2025-26.

The government says the revision is due to slower economic growth leading to smaller revenues, while the province is also adding $2.5 billion to its contingency fund for this year, bringing the total to $5.4 billion, to mitigate near-term economic risks.