Ontario’s finance minister launches budget contest for $3M in new spending

You could call it Budgety McBudgetface.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa has launched an online budget contest with a $3-million prize.

But the winners don’t get to keep the money.

As part of his annual budget consultation, Sousa announced Monday he is on up to eight new proposals that would be included in his spending plan, which is expected next spring.

As much as $3 million of a budget that will eclipse the $136-billion mark will be earmarked for the new projects in one-time funding. The most any single initiative would receive is $1 million.

Sousa insisted there is little risk of a reprise of the online in Britain where 124,000 people voted to call a new polar research ship, Boaty McBoatface.

Embarrassed officials overruled the survey to rename the vessel after naturalist David Attenborough.

“There are those that are going to want to put something practical, something substantive, before government that can be reflected in the (budget) document, something that speaks to them,” said the treasurer.

“If someone tries to hack it or ruin it for everybody else, I think the system will keep them in check for sure,” he said.

To guide the suggestions, they will be limited to: improving health care, education, child care, and access to government services; helping small businesses; boosting community infrastructure projects; enhancing relations with indigenous peoples, and curbing climate change.

Submissions can be made at the Budget Talks website, , or via email at , and they must be made by midnight Dec. 11.

Proposals can be for events, pilot projects, a study or a digital service and must be completed by spring 2018.

But they must be “within the scope of the Ontario government to deliver.”

A short list will be created and the public will vote online for the best ideas.

This is the third year Sousa has gone to the public for such online input, but the first time that he has promised to fund the best ones.

Last year, Ontarians came up with 1,732 ideas, delivered 4,540 feedback comments, and cast 53,402 votes for them.

Thanks to those, the government launched an energy-saving LED light pilot project along a 1.1-km stretch of Hwy. 401 west of Renforth Dr.

But, in past years, the process has been by submissions urging the end of public funding for Catholic schools, which Sousa stressed is not on the table.

“At this point, we’re not moving forward with any changes to the system.”

Toronto Star


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