Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced an unprecedented inquiry into the previous Liberal government’s spending habits Tuesday.
As the Canadian Press reports, the Independent Financial Commission will be led by former British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, who will be charged with examining Ontario’s fiscal health. The province has one of the highest per-capita debts in North America and twice the debt of California.
Ford indicated that the inquest will examine all 15 years of the former provincial government’s deficit spending.
“I want the people to be presented with a full, honest and accurate picture of Ontario’s finances,” Ford told a Toronto news conference. “You deserve to know where your money is going, how it was being wasted and how we’re going to fix it.”
Ford also made sure the commission does not become a financial drain on its own; he expects Campbell to report back by Aug. 30 with the results.
The new Ontario premier is not the first official to suggest the province’s financial state is even worse than the outgoing Liberal regime cared to admit. Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk indicated before the recent provincial election that the Liberals were deliberately mendacious with their deficit projections: she said the estimated of $6.5 billion debt for the fiscal year 2020/21 should have read $12.5 billion.
“You’re fed up with being deceived,” Ford told reporters. “You’re fed up with paying more and getting less. Fed up with the shady accounting tricks because in the last 15 years nothing was off the table. Even Ontario’s budget numbers under the Liberals, the books were cooked. The deficit numbers were faked.”
Asked if he planned to move forward with all the commission’s recommendations, Ford indicated he wasn’t crafting a financial inquiry for his amusement.
“I’m excited for the report, but we wouldn’t be hiring firms like this if we didn’t believe in following their advice.”