As 2011 approaches changes in the Ontario economy have become apparent, particularly to rural regions who generally feel the pinch first. Ontario which is generally considered the manufacturing engine of Canada has had a recent turn downwards in GDP and in housing prices – Toronto was down at 9.0% in September * ( along with the rest of Canada –down 1.1% overall in September). Conversely an increase in the net debt to GDP ratio to 37% for 2010-2011 burdens future options and translates to approximately..220 billion dollars. Other Ontario issues impacting include: the introduction of the Ontario HST and the Toronto levy on the land transfer tax on the realty market; the pending increases in Hydro rates and the whole dicey issue of Ontario Hydro debt retirement versus consumer resentment and retrenchment; along with broader, contextual issues such as demographic trends – boomer downsizing (51% Canadian Boomers plan to move, while 4/5th plan to downsize), foreign, especially Chinese speculation in realty and stock markets (most heavily in Vancouver), and the growing instability in the global financial system, particularly in Europe.
What would have the major impact is almost irrelevant as ominous trends converge and cascade upon each other in Ontario. Politically, Ontario could be expected to take a turn to the right if the recent election results of liberal Toronto are any indication of voter sentiment. The only thing missing is a finely tuned Provincial Conservative Party election machine. Whether this possibility of a shift to the right would translate into an austerity approach ala ‘Mike (Harris) the Knife’, or be managed more in line with the Federal Conservative Party approach of ‘measured stimulus’ is anyone’s guess. What is certain is that we will not escape the consequences of the global financial crisis, how far we sink is a question for the future to reveal.