Ontario Budget 2000 PAPER A Ontario's Economic and Revenue Outlook:Record Performance and Continuing Strong Growth

Ontario Budget 2000 BUDGET PAPER A Ontario's Economic and Revenue Outlook:
"Record Performance and Continuing Strong Growth"


Solid growth in Ontario's economy will continue in 2000 and 2001, resulting in healthy job gains and a falling unemployment rate.

"Ontario, which led all of the other provinces in terms of economic growth in 1999, will grow at a stellar rate...in 2000."

TD Bank, March 2000

Ontario Economic and Revenue Outlook at a Glance
(Annual Average)
  1998 1999 2000 2001
Real GDP Growth (per cent) 4.3 5.7 4.6 3.1
Employment (thousands) 5,490 5,688 Up to 5,887 Up to 6,064
Unemployment Rate (per cent) 7.2 6.3 5.5 - 6.0 5.0 - 5.5
CPI Inflation (per cent) 0.9 1.9 2.5 2.0
Provincial Revenue ($ billions) 55.8 62.5 62.1 63.4

Sources: Statistics Canada and Ontario Ministry of Finance. Revenues are on a fiscal-year basis.

  • The robust economy will underpin growing Provincial tax revenues. Since Ontario began cutting tax rates to stimulate economic growth, total Provincial tax revenue has increased by $11.7 billion.

  • Strong growth in consumer spending and residential investment will be supported by income tax cuts, job gains and rising income.

  • Impressive increases in corporate profits, solid domestic demand and high industry capacity utilization rates are leading to vigorous growth in business investment, particularly in productivity-enhancing machinery and equipment.

  • Ontario's export and import growth is expected to outpace overall economic growth. Solid auto sales in the United States and across Canada, and growth in high-tech investment, are stimulating Ontario exports.


Job Creation Booming

  • Since September 1995, total employment has risen by 701,000, almost half of all jobs created in Canada.

  • A record 198,000 jobs were created in 1999, up 3.6 per cent from 1998. Almost all of the job gains were full-time.

  • The unemployment rate has dropped from 8.7 per cent in mid-1995 to 5.6 per cent today.

Consumer Confidence Strengthening

  • The Conference Board of Canada's index of Ontario consumer confidence has risen 37.8 per cent since the end of 1995, compared to 25.5 per cent in the rest of Canada.

  • Ontario retail sales rose 7.3 per cent in 1999. Over the first two months of 2000, retail sales were up 8.0 per cent from a year earlier.

Housing Momentum Building

  • Housing starts soared 24.9 per cent in 1999, reaching a decade high of 67,235 units. Housing starts in Ontario rose to an annual rate of 78,800 units in the first quarter of 2000, up 24.8 per cent from the same period in 1999.

  • Ontario home resales advanced 7.4 per cent in 1999, to reach a record 148,660 sales. Over the first three months of 2000, resales are up 9.0 per cent from the same period in 1999.

Investment Spending Buoyant

  • Real business investment in machinery and equipment has increased by 80 per cent since 1995, while real commercial and industrial construction has grown by 19 per cent.

  • Corporate profits grew by 22.3 per cent in 1999, encouraging the increase in investment.

Export Growth Continues

  • Ontario merchandise exports jumped 13.6 per cent in 1999. Ontario exports are up 8.2 per cent over the first two months of 2000 from a year earlier.


The economy grew faster in 1999 than the 1999 Budget projection of 3.7 per cent. With real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 5.7 per cent, Ontario's economic performance surpassed that in the rest of Canada, the United States and all of the other G-7 major industrial countries.

The strong forward momentum of the Ontario economy in 1999 has carried into 2000. Real GDP is projected to grow by 4.6 per cent in 2000 and by 3.1 per cent in 2001. Growth is expected to be broadly based, with household spending, business investment and exports all making a contribution. In keeping with Ontario's policy of prudent forecasting, these projections are marginally below the current private-sector consensus.

Economic Growth Projections
(Per Cent)
  2000 2001
Ontario Real GDP Growth    
Private-sector survey average 4.7 3.2
Ontario's projection 4.6 3.1

Note: The private-sector average is based on eight recent forecasts.
Sources: Ontario Ministry of Finance and Ontario Finance Survey of Forecasts (April 2000).

The cautious economic projection is, as in previous Budgets, supplemented by a reserve, as part of prudent budgeting practices. A $1 billion reserve has been included in the 2000-01 fiscal plan to protect the balanced budget against unexpected and adverse changes in the economic and fiscal outlook.


Tax cuts create jobs. Government policies of lower taxes, reduced regulation and sound fiscal management have laid a solid foundation for strong growth and job creation. Ontario is on track to surpass the Government's ambitious goal of 725,000 new jobs by the end of 2000 and is well positioned to reach the Government's new target of 825,000 jobs over the following five years.

  • Ontario created a record 198,000 new jobs in 1999, on the heels of 177,000 new jobs in 1998. These are the best two consecutive years of job creation in Ontario's history. Almost all of the jobs created in 1999 were full-time. Job creation has been broadly based with employment rising in most sectors of the economy.

    A bar chart demonstrating Ontario's cumulative job creation since September of 1995.
  • Strong economic growth is projected to support average annual job growth of up to 3.5 per cent in 2000 and up to 3.0 per cent in 2001.

  • Rising job openings, tax cuts and welfare reform are encouraging more Ontarians to enter the labour force.

  • The growth of income associated with more jobs and greater capital gains boosted Personal Income Tax (PIT) revenue by $1,835 million above the 1999 Budget projection. In addition, Employer Health Tax revenue was $135 million above last year's projection.


Despite strong growth, Ontario's CPI inflation is expected to remain in check, averaging 2.5 per cent in 2000 and 2.0 per cent in 2001. This is well within the Bank of Canada's target range.

Bar chart showing the Ontario consumer price inflation staying within the bank of Canada target range for 1995 through to projections for 2001.


Personal tax cuts and high and rising consumer confidence have led to robust growth in consumer spending. This pattern will continue in 2000 and will contribute to solid gains in real output and employment.

"With after-tax household incomes...outpacing inflation and solid growth in profits, consumer and business confidence are on a strong upswing."

Scotiabank, February 2000

 A bar chart showing that Ontario outperforms the rest of Canada in real after-tax spending and real consumer spending covering from the second quarter of 1996 through to the end of 1999.
  • The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence has risen by 37.8 per cent since the end of 1995. This surpassed the 25.5 per cent increase for the rest of Canada during the same period.

  • Real consumer spending surged 4.1 per cent in 1999, supported by strong growth in real after-tax income.

  • Tax cuts and strong job creation have increased Ontarians' confidence in their economic prospects and reinforced their willingness to make important investment and spending decisions such as buying a home or purchasing a car. In 1999-00, Retail Sales Tax revenue was $674 million higher than projected in the 1999 Budget.

  • From the second quarter of 1996, when Ontario income tax cuts began, to the fourth quarter of 1999, Ontario real disposable income has increased by 11.6 per cent, more than double the 5.7 per cent pace for the rest of Canada.

  • During the same period, Ontario real consumption has increased by 15.4 per cent, much stronger than the 10.8 per cent rise recorded for the rest of Canada.

    A graph showing that tax cuts boost real take-home pay  from 1996 to projections for 2001.
  • Real disposable income is expected to rise by 4.3 per cent in 2000 and 3.6 per cent in 2001. The sharp rise in income is supported by Ontario Government policies to reduce taxes and improve the business climate. These policies leave more money in the pockets of taxpayers and encourage business investment and job creation. Real consumer spending is expected to grow in line with disposable income, rising 3.9 per cent in 2000 and 3.0 per cent in 2001.


"Ontario's home markets will remain among Canada's top performers."

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, February 2000

The residential construction sector is expected to remain brisk in 2000, supported by strong job gains, rising incomes and population growth.

  • The Land Transfer Tax (LTT) rebate for first-time buyers of new homes will continue to support the housing industry. Ontario housing starts are expected to rise to 73,000 in 2000. Residential construction spending in Ontario is projected to rise by 5.4 per cent in 2000 and a further 2.3 per cent in 2001.

  • The vibrant housing market in Ontario in 1999 increased Land Transfer Tax revenue by $90 million above the 1999 Budget forecast.

  • Five-year mortgages have risen from their historic lows, with the posted rate at most financial institutions at 8.35 per cent in late April. Mortgage rates are expected to stay within 50 to 100 basis points of their current levels and will remain well below the peak of over 14 per cent reached in 1990.

  • More significantly, housing remains very affordable. In 1999, the monthly carrying cost for an average-priced home in Ontario was $970 compared to $1,489 in 1990. As a share of after-tax household income, the same carrying cost fell to 21.2 per cent in 1999 from a high of 36.4 per cent in 1990.


New technologies, which are lowering costs and transforming the way we do business, require new capital goods and software. Ontario firms are rapidly upgrading their capital stock with modern, highly productive machinery, equipment and structures. These investments are leading to dynamic job creation, rising productivity and stronger output growth. Healthy investment growth over the past few years has been instrumental in enhancing Ontario's competitive position in the international economy.

Corporate profits rose by 22.3 per cent in 1999, significantly stronger than expected. As a result, Corporations Tax revenue exceeded the 1999 Budget projection by $776 million.

The real value of Ontario business investment in machinery and equipment rose by 80 per cent between 1995 and 1999. Real investment in commercial and industrial construction rose by 19 per cent over the same period.

  • Machinery and equipment investment is projected to increase by an average of 7.0 per cent over 2000 and 2001.

  • Spending in the commercial and industrial construction sector is expected to remain healthy, with a projected average increase of 2.1 per cent over the next two years.

    A pair of bar charts showing both machinery and equipment investment and commercial and industrial construction are on the rise.
  • Large firms continue to demonstrate their commitment to the province. Firms with major current projects under way or announced include Dofasco, DuPont Canada, Nortel Networks and Stelco. Ontario's attractiveness as an investment location continues to draw new capital expenditure projects in the key automotive sector. DaimlerChrysler Canada, Ford of Canada, General Motors Canada, Honda Canada and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada are all making significant new investments in Ontario.

  • Capacity utilization remains above its long-term average, prompting firms to invest further. Capacity utilization in the transportation equipment industry, for example, jumped to 91.4 per cent in 1999, a record high.

    A graph showing that high capacity utilization encourages investment covering the period of 1990 through 1999.
  • Ontario industrial real estate development is growing strongly. Commercial and industrial building permits rose an average of 23.8 per cent over the past three years.


Ontario export industries recorded another banner year in 1999, with real exports up 10.7 per cent. Ontario's real exports are projected to remain strong in 2000 and 2001 with continued U.S. growth and rising demand in Europe and Asia.

  • International trade has increased in importance to the Ontario economy through the 1990s. The province's international orientation has increased sharply. Ontario's exports were equivalent to only 29.4 per cent of GDP in 1989. This ratio rose to 54.4 per cent in 1999.

Strong growth in exports has been accompanied by rising imports. In large part this reflects the increasing integration of the North American economy. A significant consequence of this trend is the increasing import content of manufactured exports. This matches the experience of the Canadian auto industry, which has benefited from free trade with the United States since 1965. It has long been completely integrated on a North American basis, with the import content of exports exceeding 50 per cent.

  • The following chart shows that, in recent years, since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the import content of other manufactured exports also has increased sharply. A recent Statistics Canada study shows that this trend is particularly evident in the fast-growing industries producing electronic equipment and other capital goods for the world economy. Increased integration and specialization brings with it the promise, over time, of the strong productivity growth that has characterized Ontario's auto industry.

    A set of three bar charts showing the rising trade integration in three sector for import content in Canadian exports.
  • Since 1995, net trade (exports minus imports) has accounted for 16.0 per cent of Ontario's total GDP growth.

  • The auto sector, which accounts for nearly half of Ontario's total international exports, led export growth in 1999, rising 26 per cent. Ontario's auto industry recorded another record-breaking year in 1999, producing nearly three million cars and trucks.

  • Prospects for Ontario's auto industry exports are bright. New investment is expanding and improving plants, while U.S. demand for autos and trucks is projected to remain strong.

  • Knowledge-based, high-technology industries continue to grow in importance to the Ontario economy. In 1999, telecommunications equipment exports grew by 12.3 per cent in real terms, while computer exports jumped 18.1 per cent.


Ontario's tax cuts have fuelled robust growth in domestic demand and substantially increased government revenues. This performance was well above forecasts. Taxation revenue in 1999-00 was $3.1 billion above the 1998-99 level. Tax revenues are expected to continue to grow in 2000-01 as a result of continuing strong growth in the Ontario economy.

Total revenue in 2000-01 is projected to be slightly below the 1999-00 level due to the inclusion in 1999-00 revenue of $1,580 million for the net proceeds from the sale of Highway 407.

Ontario Revenues: 1998-99 to 2000-01
($ Millions)
Taxation Revenue 43,077 46,192 47,323
Personal Income Tax 17,190 17,505 17,530
Retail Sales Tax 11,651 12,784 13,400
Corporations Tax 7,447 8,596 8,765
All Other

6,789 7,307 7,628
Federal Payments

4,515 5,888 6,032
Income from Government Enterprises

2,547 3,507 3,423
Other Revenue

5,647 6,885 5,282
Total Revenue 55,786 62,472 62,060
Total Revenue Excluding Highway 407 Sale 55,786 60,892 62,060

Driven by continued gains in employment, incomes, consumer spending and corporate profits, tax revenue is forecast to increase by over $1.1 billion in 2000-01.

  • Personal Income Tax revenue is projected at $17,530 million.

  • Continued strong growth in business and consumer spending, raising retail sales by 6.4 per cent in 2000, is expected to boost Retail Sales Tax revenue to $13,400 million.

  • Corporations Tax revenue is forecast to increase to $8,765 million in 2000-01.

  • Strong job creation and healthy wage gains are expected to increase Employer Health Tax revenues to $3,320 million in 2000-01.

  • Transfers from the Government of Canada are forecast to be $6,032 million in 2000- 01. This amount includes $4,857 million for the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST), including the increase in CHST allocation and Supplements. This will be 27 per cent lower than in 1994-95.

  • Income from Government Enterprises is expected to be $3,423 million.

  • Other Revenue is expected to be $5,282 million. This is $1,603 million below the 1999-00 level, which included $1,580 million for the net proceeds from the sale of Highway 407.


The Ontario economy is poised for continued vigorous growth in 2000. Robust domestic demand assisted by solid export growth is underpinning future growth. Strong job creation is continuing; the unemployment rate is declining. The private-sector consensus projects real GDP growth of 4.7 per cent in 2000 and a further 3.2 per cent in 2001. This is, once again, faster than economic growth in the rest of Canada or any of the other G-7 major industrial countries.

A bar chart showing Ontario as the growth leader according to the private sector economic outlook for 2000.

By reducing tax rates and eliminating obstacles to market-led growth, the Ontario Government has established a framework for a strong economy that generates the revenues needed to pay for valued public services and infrastructure. Provincial tax revenues are projected to grow by over $1.1 billion in 2000-01.



The following tables and charts provide further details about the Ontario Ministry of Finance economic and revenue projections.

The Ontario Economy, 1998 to 2001
(Per Cent Change)
  Actual Projected
  1998 1999 2000 2001
Real Gross Domestic Product 4.3 5.7 4.6 3.1
Personal consumption 3.4 4.1 3.9 3.0
Residential construction (1.2) 14.6 5.4 2.3
Non-residential construction (3.8) 0.8 2.3 1.9
Machinery and equipment 10.6 11.8 8.6 5.3
Exports 8.8 10.7 7.9 5.3
Imports 6.4 11.2 8.6 5.6
Nominal Gross Domestic Product 4.3 7.1 6.5 4.7
Other Economic Indicators        
Retail sales 6.9 7.3 6.4 4.8
Housing starts (000s) 53.8 67.2 73.0 70.0
Personal income 4.8 4.5 5.7 5.0
Corporate profits 0.3 22.3 13.2 3.6
Ontario Consumer Price Index 0.9 1.9 2.5 2.0
Labour Market        
Employment* 3.3 3.6 3.0 – 3.5 2.5 – 3.0
Unemployment rate * (per cent) 7.2 6.3 5.5 – 6.0 5.0 – 5.5

* Based on Labour Force Survey.
Sources: Statistics Canada and Ontario Ministry of Finance.

For prudent planning purposes, the interest rate on three-month Government of Canada treasury bills is assumed to be 50 to 60 basis points higher than the average private-sector forecast. Interest rates on 10-year Government of Canada bonds are assumed to be 20 basis points higher than the average private-sector forecast.

Interest Rate Assumptions
(Average Per Cent)
  1999 2000
3-month Government of Canada treasury bills        
Private-sector survey average 4.7 5.2 5.7 5.7
Ontario's assumption     6.3 6.2
10-year Government of Canada bondsa        
Private-sector survey average 5.6 6.2 6.3 6.3
Ontario's assumption     6.5 6.5

Sources: Bank of Canada, Ontario Ministry of Finance and Ontario Finance Financial Market Survey (April 2000).

The following table shows the sensitivity of the fiscal balance to the direct impact of lower interest rates on public debt interest and the impact of stronger economic growth on revenues and expenditures.

Impact of Changes in Economic Assumptions on the Ontario Surplus
($ Millions)
100 Basis Points Lower Canadian Interest Rates 80
1 Percentage Point Higher Real GDP Growth 565

Note: These responses would hold "on average" and could vary significantly depending on the composition of change in income and expenditures.
Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance.

($ Millions)
Taxation Revenue          
Personal Income Tax 16,357 16,293 17,190 17,505 17,530
Retail Sales Tax 9,964 10,843 11,651 12,784 13,400
Corporations Tax 5,852 7,456 7,447 8,596 8,765
Employer Health Tax 2,772 2,851 2,882 3,125 3,320
Gasoline Tax 1,951 2,028 2,068 2,175 2,260
Fuel Tax 540 563 592 635 665
Tobacco Tax 356 425 447 481 510
Land Transfer Tax 452 565 470 570 580
Mining Profits Tax 54 40 23 53 55
Race Tracks Tax 46 4 6 5 5
Preferred Share Dividends Tax 73 60 50 35 40
Other Taxation 113 141 251 228 193
Total 38,530 41,269 43,077 46,192 47,323
Government of Canada          
Canada Health and Social Transfer 4,814 3,970 3,553 3,767 3,548
Increase in CHST Allocation - - - 190 552
CHST Supplements - - - 755 757
Social Housing 341 387 358 503 533
Student Assistance 9 18 64 171 171
Indian Welfare Services 128 87 155 112 114
Bilingualism Development 44 49 55 65 64
Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities 65 53 71 66 66
Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Works 142 116 71 25 -
Other 235 418 188 234 227
Total 5,778 5,098 4,515 5,888 6,032
Income from Government Enterprises          
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation* 1,248 1,485 1,764 1,811 1,695
Liquor Control Board of Ontario 701 745 809 844 915
Ontario Hydro Successor Companies - - - 820 795
Other 10 61 (26) 32 18
Total 1,959 2,291 2,547 3,507 3,423
Other Revenue          
Vehicle and Driver Registration Fees 816 820 890 923 920
Other Fees and Licences 560 548 661 637 670
Liquor Licence Revenue 520 506 519 528 530
Royalties 264 286 289 294 240
Sales and Rentals 543 582 640 2,339 790
Fines and Penalties 157 174 50 40 35
Local Services Realignment - Reimbursement of Expenditure - 519 2,109 1,665 1,572
Miscellaneous 323 425 489 459 525
Total 3,183 3,860 5,647 6,885 5,282
Total Revenue 49,450 52,518 55,786 62,472 62,060
Total Revenue Excluding Highway 407 Sale 49,450 52,518 55,786 60,892 62,060

*Effective April 1, 2000, the Ontario Lottery Corporation and Ontario Casino Corporation merged to form the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.
Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance.

The Budget Dollar:

The Ontario budget dollar for 2000-2001 by revenue.

Revenue Sources by Category
Per Cent of Total
1996-97 to 2000-01

A bar chart showing revenue sources by category as a per cent of total revenue for the fiscal years from 1996-1997 through to 2000-2001.
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