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EVENT RECAP: Post-Budget Discussion with the Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy

Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy in conversation with Deb Hutton.

Yesterday, Toronto Region Board of Trade members were treated to an insightful conversation with Ontario’s Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy at the Board’s event space, The Quay.

The current economic and financial challenges will not be easy to manage. Yung Wu, the Board’s Chair, said in his opening remarks, “with six million Ontarians arriving over the next two decades, there is a tremendous amount of work to do.” He continued, “We must keep our eye on the future - not five years or even ten years ahead – but with focus set firmly on a 20+ year horizon. That means we need to move ahead with the investments into productive capacity that we will need to make in the next 3-5 years that will set the table for that 20 year horizon. The government has made great investments over the years, but economic pitfalls and new externalities put those past investments at risk. Which makes balancing our short-term economic health, while preparing us for the future the order of the day.”

Deb Hutton, communications and issues management consultant, moderated a conversation with the minister and worked through these competing perspectives on the province's fiscal outlook while touching on important issues such as productivity, manufacturing, infrastructure development, and labour.

While Hutton pressed Minister Bethlenfalvy on government spending, he outlined his thinking regarding the government’s spending priorities, particularly on infrastructure, in the current economic environment.

“You know one of the things I learned in my career is that economic cycles have ups and downs. The worst thing you can do in in in a downturn is slow down your investments; not continue the building of hospitals, long-term care homes, of schools, of highways, of subways… because these cycles will come and go, but infrastructure lasts.”

Throughout the conversation the minister reemphasized that despite the costs, the government would continue its policy of not implementing taxes or fees and focusing on putting money back into the pockets of people and businesses.

“But we also have to keep costs down for families and for businesses in this environment. And while this has led to a higher deficit, one that we projected last year and higher than I would like it. I want to remind everybody it is temporary.  And while it will pass, we have a path to balance these long-term investments in real assets and infrastructure. They're going to stay for generations and that's the message I absolutely wanted to leave with you today.”

Thank you to our event partners.

Excellence Partner