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Ontario Government Continues to Put a Stop to Wasteful Year End Spending

Recent Initiatives are Embedding a Change in Culture and Directing Resources to Front-line Services
March 13, 2020

Ontario is embedding a culture of fiscal responsibility across government, as it moves to further curb wasteful spending at the end of the fiscal year.

Known as "March Madness," governments sometimes see expenses spike near the end of the fiscal year as ministries attempt to spend the remainder of their budgets.

Last year, the province announced an end to March Madness spending, and saved Ontario taxpayers $153 million, as part of its plan to change the culture of government and restore respect for taxpayer dollars.

Through force of a special Treasury Board minute in December, Minister Bethlenfalvy directed Cabinet colleagues to improve upon those measures and not enter into any new funding commitments and limit spending to commitments up to March 31st. Spending beyond these activities, including spending from within ministry allocations, must have prior approval from Treasury Board for the entire final fiscal quarter.

"Our government is implementing spending controls earlier in the fiscal year and directing precious resources to key, priority areas like healthcare, education and social services. This year, we've implemented these controls earlier in the fiscal cycle, so that March Madness in 2020 and moving forward doesn't turn into free-for-all February," said Bethlenfalvy. "This action speaks directly to the idea that if we change the culture of government, we can change the way government works for people."

Bethlenfalvy noted the federal Parliamentary Budget Officer's (PBO) recent observation that while Canada's subnational debt is fiscally unsustainable, Ontario is ensuring fiscal sustainability over the long run. The PBO pointed to the government's changes in fiscal policy as a key component to the characterization.

"Our government is embedding a culture of fiscal responsibility in the province and putting us on a sustainable path to balance," Bethlenfalvy said. "We are Building Smarter Government, under the leadership of Premier Doug Ford and our team, and freeing up more dollars to invest in front-line programs and services."

In a speech at the Economic Club of Ottawa today, attended by members of the provincial cabinet and hundreds of business and community leaders, Bethlenfalvy also pointed to progress made on the provincial government's Smart Initiatives - a suite of high-impact, cross-cutting policies - that are improving the user experience for Ontarians and saving taxpayer dollars.

Bethlenfalvy expressed the Ontario government's commitment to working with their federal counterparts to deliver on key priorities for the people of Ontario.

"We need the federal government to step up in these areas to help support Ontario families. And I think we're getting our message across."