Ontario's Liberal government has rolled out a spending package that targets nearly every demographic while plunging the province back into deficit -- but said the books will be balanced in six years.
The budget - tabled Wednesday by Finance Minister Charles Sousa - pumps billions into health care, child care and support for seniors. Many of the spending promises had been announced by Premier Kathleen Wynne in the days leading up to the budget.
The $158.5 billion fiscal plan - coming a little more than two months before the June 7 provincial election - projects Ontario will run a $6.7 billion deficit this fiscal year and not return to balance until 2024-2025.
Sousa brushed off suggestions the Liberals are pandering for votes, saying the government made a choice to run a deficit in order to provide much-needed support to Ontarians.
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford said he is skeptical about the Liberals' plans, saying you can't take care of the most vulnerable people in society when you have billions of dollars in debt.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called the budget a "meagre" attempt to get votes, while Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren "Smokey" Thomas called the spending package a "buy me" budget ahead of the election.