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Public Accounts Confirms Historic Investments to Support People and Jobs

Government Makes Largest Year-Over-Year Increase in Spending on Record

Sept. 27, 2021

Today, Ontario released the 2020-21 Public Accounts, which confirm that the government made record investments in healthcare and other vital frontline services to protect the health, safety and well-being of Ontarians in the fight against COVID-19. For the fourth year in a row, the Auditor General has provided a clean audit opinion on the Province’s financial statements, reinforcing the government’s commitment to restoring transparency and accountability in the province’s finances.

“Since the outset of the pandemic, our government has made it clear that we will not spare any expense when it comes to the health and safety of the people of Ontario,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, President of the Treasury Board. “The 2020-21 Public Accounts demonstrate that in a year of unprecedented challenges our government made every resource available to support critical frontline services in the fight against COVID-19. As we continue to battle the pandemic, we will leverage the full fiscal firepower of the province to support the people and businesses of Ontario.”

The Public Accounts show that government program spending rose by $16.7 billion compared to 2019-20, representing the largest year-over-year dollar increase on record. Critical investments include increases of $5.8 billion in the health sector and $1.1 billion in the education sector over the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Building on the investments made in the 2019-20 fiscal year, the 2020-21 Public Accounts outlines $19.1 billion of additional investments Ontario made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These investments created real and measurable results for the people of Ontario, including:

As reported in the 2021 Ontario Budget, the government made $13.3 billion in time‐limited pandemic response and extraordinary contingencies available in 2020-21 through one-time COVID-19 Health Sector Expense, the COVID-19 Health Contingency Fund and the Support for People and Jobs Fund. These strategic contingencies allowed the government to prudently respond in real-time to emerging and unforeseen needs. By the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year, the balance of both funds was zero.

The Public Accounts reports a 2020-21 deficit of $16.4 billion -- $22.1 billion lower than the 2020 Budget projection. This result reflects stronger revenue growth led by higher than anticipated corporate and personal income tax revenues due in part to the overwhelming COVID-19 supports provided by all levels of government. As well, expenses were $5.6 billion below the 2020 Budget forecast for 2020-21, driven by the uncertainty associated with the course of the pandemic. Broadly, this is because the third wave of COVID-19 in Ontario peaked later than anticipated and there was lower use and resulting expenses for some services and programs during the third wave of the pandemic, including physician visits, non-emergency procedures, social assistance, and college programs. This spending will now occur in 2021-22 and will be reflected in the 2021-22 public accounts.

“The release of the 2020-21 Public Accounts builds on our government’s record of transparency and accountability in the Province’s finances throughout the pandemic and before,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “In Ontario as in other jurisdictions, historic support from all levels of government to support people and businesses during the pandemic has led to higher-than-forecast government revenues, reducing the deficit for 2020-21. We will continue to make available every resource to protect the province’s health, jobs and economy.”

Quick Facts

Ontario will continue to provide regular updates on the Province’s fiscal and economic outlook based on the latest information available. The next step in the government’s plan will be outlined in the 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, to be released by November 15, 2021.