Provincial deficit drops from $10.3 billion to $9 billion.

Cuts to continue except in transit, children/social services, healthcare and education

There is less red ink showing up on Ontario government books. In the fall economic statement this afternoon, Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the 2019-2020 deficit has slipped from $10.3 billion to $9 billion.

Phillips said this has given the government wiggle room to boost autism funding and to cut small business taxes. The axe will continue to swing in every ministry except healthcare, education, transit and children and social services.

The province is doling out an additional $310 million to social assistance and other programs to help vulnerable households with kids, an extra $279 million for families with children with autism and another $68 million to chop hospital wait times.

Other ministries will see their budgets slashed including $700 million this year to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, while $360 million has been pulled from Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Starting January 1, 2020, the small business tax will be cut from 3.5 per cent to 3.2 per cent, a move that will cost the government $95 million by 2021-2022.

The statement also includes free admission to “museums, galleries and historic sites across the province,” but no timeline or cost figure was included.

The government projects that by 2022 the deficit will have fallen to $5.4 billion.