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Provincial budget is coming

Pre-consultations begin in January
Queen's Park Ontario | Benson Kua via

I was asked by Oakville News to do a deep dive into the pre-budget process for the province. Budgets generally are presented in the spring and/or fall. Figure on the big announcement coming in March or early April.

People think it’s exciting to be included in the budget ‘lock-up’ on Budget Day, where political assistants and media types are, literally, locked into rooms for hours, without access to phones or computers, while staff from the finance department explain, in detail, the hundred-plus page budget document. Meanwhile, in the legislature, MPPs wait for the Minister of Finance to officially release the forecast of where the government is going to spend (your tax dollars) in the upcoming year or so.

At the appointed hour, when all political nerds tune into Queen’s Park live, we are released to type, text, talk or tweet our impressions to the rest of the world (and to opposition MPPs who are also in the dark and trying to determine when to heckle announcements).

While the Ford government has shown an amazing ability to say one thing and do another and spreading the taxpayers’ money around is an attempt to please all of the people all of the time, if you can ‘read the tea leaves,’ you might be able to discern what priorities the government has in store. More spending on health, long-term care facilities, highways, infrastructure, buck-a-beer? Reductions on home electricity costs, gasoline taxes, green energy projects?

One place to start looking while the legislature enjoys its Christmas break (until Feb. 21) is the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Let me go back a bit. What are ‘Standing Committees’?

Any MPP, government or opposition member can introduce a motion (Bill) to create or amend an Act that may, one day, change a Law, Regulation, or procedure within the province. These bills must go through a process whereby select MPPs can discuss, debate or deny aspects of the bill. First Reading is a formality (to get it onto the agenda). Second Reading is shared widely (and online if you care), and anyone (in the legislature) can contact the person presenting the bill with questions, comments, or suggestions. If it passes this stage, the bill (and there are 50 or so on the current books) is sent to a relevant ‘Select Committee’ to be debated, amended, challenged, or declined. Herein is where the governing party has an advantage, having more members on each committee than the opposition has – often with the expected results.

Oakville has the distinct advantage of having two local MPPs on the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs – Ellie Triantafilopulos (Oakville North-Burlington) and Stephen Crawford (Oakville).

As it would happen, the committee will be holding pre-budget consultations between Jan. 9 and Feb. 14 in Kenora, Red Lake, Windsor, Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, Timmins, Ottawa, Peterborough, Barrie, and Queen's Park. But don’t worry; committee sessions will stream live from these locations when available. For the link to the webcast and to find times and availability, visit the Legislative Assembly website at To register to speak or send a written submission, visit

The provincial website states: We are seeking ideas from workers, families, business owners and communities on what you need and what you want to see in the 2023 Budget. The online survey will launch on Jan. 11 and close on Feb. 10. Send your submission to [email protected]. Use “2023 Budget Consultations” in the subject line. More info at