On Thursday, March 23, 2023, the government tabled Building a Strong Ontario, the 2023 provincial budget. The government’s plan is to balance the budget with the province to start posting a budget surplus in 2024-2025. In 2022-23, Ontario is projecting a deficit of $2.2 billion. Over the medium term, the government is projecting a deficit of $1.3 billion in 2023-24 before planning for surpluses of $0.2 billion in 2024-25 and $4.4 billion in 2025-25. Elevated uncertainty remains about the future pace of economic growth, which may impact these projections.
Basic Justice sector spending is projected at $4.7 billion in 2021-22, $5.5 billion in 2022-23, $5.4 billion in 2023-24, $5.4 billion in 2024-25, and $5.3 billion in 2025-26. Justice sector expense is projected to be $313 million higher, primarily due to investments related to essential service delivery within courts, corrections, and policing. In 2023-24, the Justice sector will make up 2.6% ($5.4 billion) of Ontario’s total expenses ($204.7 billion).
Base Justice sector expense is projected to decrease from $5.5 billion in 2022-23 to $5.3 billion in 2025-26. This is primarily due to obligations under the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, 2019 in 2022-24, which are recorded annually and are not included in forecasted expenses beyond 2022-23. The government continues to make investments in the Justice sector for initiatives such as the Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy in order to protect public safety.
Ontario is calling on the federal government to get tougher on crime. While Ontario is investing in boots-on-the-ground policing, bail reform is also needed. The province joins Ontario law enforcement in calling on the federal government to crack down on smugglers at the borders, step up inspections and reform the Canadian bail system.
You can view the full budget here.