Queen's Park, Ontario legislature, exterior

The government of Ontario will be handing down its next provincial budget on March 25.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the budget will focus on reducing, and eventually eliminating, the deficit, which is forecast at $9 billion for the current fiscal year.

“In our 2020 budget, we will continue on our path to balance the books by 2023-24,” said Phillips.

In its pre-budget submission, the Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC) endorsed the goal of balancing the budget over the next several years, saying it would “bolster business and investor confidence.”

“We’re restoring balance to the province’s books within a reasonable timeframe, so we can continue making smart investments in frontline services like health care and education, while leaving more money in people’s pockets,” Phillips said.

The IIAC’s wish list for the upcoming budget also included a tax break to encourage investing in small and medium-sized businesses; a framework to enable more public-private infrastructure investment; and reforms to securities regulation, such as allowing the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) to issue blanket orders.

It also recommended working with other federal and provincial/territorial governments to harmonize standards for collecting beneficial ownership information, and creating a central registry to house that information.

Other areas that could get some attention in the budget include measures to regulate industry titles (such as financial planner and advisor), and the OSC’s recommendations for reducing regulatory burdens, some of which require legislative action.