TORONTO, March 27, 2012 /CNW/ - The Certified General Accountants of Ontario acknowledges the efforts of the Government of Ontario in meeting many of the Association's pre-budget recommendations.
Steps taken by the government to return to a balanced budget include removing overlap and duplication, delivering programs and services more effectively and efficiently, and focusing on core businesses.
"By committing to finding operational efficiencies, transforming the way public programs and services are delivered, and limiting annual spending increases to one per cent, we believe the government is on the right track," said Doug Brooks, FCGA, CEO, CGA Ontario. "This fundamental shift in the way government serves taxpayers is consistent with our pre-budget recommendations."
CGA Ontario's budget analysis:
Deficit reduction - A budget deficit of $15.2 billion is projected in 2012-13; $13.3 billion in 2013-14; and $10.7 billion in 2014-15. The budget is expected to be balanced by 2017-2018. CGA Ontario is encouraged to see the budget return to balance but these projections do not significantly differ from last year's. In addition, although the government will hold annual spending increases to one per cent, total expenses are projected to increase by 1.5 per cent annually.
Infrastructure - CGA Ontario is encouraged to see that planned infrastructure spending of $35 billion will continue. However, more commitment to maintenance of municipal infrastructure would be beneficial to avoid inevitable cost increases.
Health care - As recommended in CGA Ontario's pre-budget submission, the Government of Ontario is attempting to transform the delivery of health care. As healthcare accounts for a significant portion of overall government expenditures, CGA Ontario welcomes a limit on growth while maintaining quality of service.
The government's commitment to reduce costs associated with prolonged hospital stays and prescription drugs is also encouraging.
Training - CGA Ontario is pleased to see consolidation of skills training programs across government ministries. The Association supports the continuation of the Second Career program, but the lack of a separate program for those pursuing professional careers is of concern. Considering there is currently a shortage of professionals in many sectors in Ontario, the Association believes it would have been beneficial for the budget to include supports for those pursuing professional careers.
Small to medium-sized enterprise - CGA Ontario commends the government's commitment to enhancing Ontario's access to global markets. However, support for the province's SME sector should have been identified as a critical measure. Further, the implementation of a strategy to assist SMEs in expanding their markets beyond domestic ones is missing from today's budget. Currently, the SME sector employs 50 per cent of Ontario's workforce but only represents 35 percent of Ontario's exports. More significant is that these exports are derived from only eight per cent of SMEs.
"While we are encouraged by the focus on returning to a balanced budget, we believe the government could have taken a more aggressive approach," said Puneet Luthra, Director, Public Policy and Government Relations, CGA Ontario. "We continue to stress the importance of reducing the overall provincial debt as it remains a tremendous burden."
CGA Ontario is a self-governing body that grants the exclusive rights to the CGA designation, and controls the professional standards, conduct and discipline of its members and students in the province of Ontario. Certified general accountants (CGAs) are committed to meeting the needs of their businesses and organizations with strategic insight, leadership and demonstrated abilities. In Ontario, there are more than 21,000 CGAs and approximately 8,000 students working towards their designation. www.cga-ontario.org / www.cga-domore.org
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