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Provincial deficit tops $9 billion, six new schools for city

The provincial budget dropped, we’ve got a breakdown of what’s in it.

Good morning!

I wanted to start off today’s newsletter by thanking so many of you for signing up to be new members as part of our spring fundraising drive. We’re getting close to our goals but we’re still 24 members short of our goal of 75 new members by the end of the month.

If you’d like to keep us going, helping us pay the bills and ourselves, to keep the Lookout going, you can sign up here to become an Ottawa Lookout Insider. You’ll get access to the City Hall Insider (next issue coming Thursday!), our full archives, and access to the Capital Eats Insider with some of the best tips on where to eat around town.

There’s plenty to get to, including the provincial budget and what’s in it for the city.

So let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor.


Wednesday: +12 🌡️ +2 | 🌦

Thursday: +9 🌡️ -3 | 🌤

Friday: +7 🌡️ -5 | ☀️


Budget deficit triples on stagnant growth, six new schools for the city

Peter Bethlenfalvy/Twitter

What happened: The provincial government expects a budget deficit of $9.8 billion next year, far from the expected surplus of $200 million forecast in last year’s budget, CBC reported. The figure is triple last year’s deficit of about $3 billion.

Shortfall sources: The government said lower-than-expected economic growth in the province, leading to lower revenues, was a major source of the deficit. But a continuing freeze on the provincial gas tax; the elimination of licence renewal fees; the federal freeze on international student permits; and an unconstitutional law that has forced the government to pay $6 billion (so far) in back pay to public sector workers have all put a significant dent in the provincial balance sheet.

Slow growth: Ontario expects real GDP to grow by just 0.3 percent in the next year, The Canadian Press reported. That puts the province perilously close to recession territory. The economy is expected to grow by 1.2 percent the following year. Overall, Ontario expects the budget to be back in balance by the 2026-27 fiscal year, just in time for the next election.

  • “We are going to follow through on a plan that is working — knowing that the higher deficits, compared to what we projected last year, will be time limited while the return on investment will be felt for decades,” Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said.

In it for Ottawa: There is money set aside for six new schools throughout the city, CTV reported. The budget also reiterated the government’s support for the planning and construction of a new interchange on the 416 at Barnsdale Road. 

Housing help? The budget included $1.8 billion to jumpstart housing, which was already announced last week, according to TVO. In the budget, the government said it would allow cities to create new property tax classes for purpose-built rentals, which could see tax rates for those buildings drop 35 percent below the level of single-family homes. This would hopefully spur more construction, relieving some pressure on an excessively tight rental market.

  • But the province doesn’t expect house prices to fall. By 2027, the average home in Ontario is expected to cost $1 million. And the government projects that housing starts will fall well short of the needed construction to meet its goal of 1.5 million new homes by the end of the decade.

You can find the full budget document at the Government of Ontario website.

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🏥 $2 million: The amount Sens owner Michael Andlauer pledged to Roger Neilson House and Maison Papillon. The money comes from the Ottawa Senators Foundation. [CTV]

😎 120,000: The number of protective sunglasses Queen’s University handed out to residents through local libraries in anticipation of next week’s total solar eclipse. The city on the St. Lawrence will experience a total eclipse, while Ottawa will only experience a partial eclipse. [CTV]

💸 $15,000: One woman went straight to BMO, her bank, when she feared she was getting scammed. Despite assurances from the bank manager, this much money was gone from her accounts some 30 minutes later. [CTV]


😿 Athena the cat is still missing at the Ottawa Airport after escaping her travel crate. The cat is pregnant, and had been brought by a local rescue to the city for a new life. [CTV]

🕵️‍♂️ Residents in Russell County can now join the OPP’s crowd-sourced surveillance program. Residents with an outdoor camera can register with the police force, who can then request footage. Residents have a right to refuse to give the camera footage over when asked. [CTV]

🚨 The suburb of Barrhaven remains the city’s epicentre of car theft. The rising number of thefts is pushing car insurance rates up. [CBC]

⚠️ A tract of property set aside for future development in Greely is frequently the site of illegal dumping. Piles of trash continue to pile up despite the owner installing gates on the access road to the property. [CBC]

🚧 Campsites at Gatineau’s Philippe, Renaud, and Taylor lakes will remain closed for another year. The NCC had promised upgrades would be done in time for the 2024 season, but work has fallen behind and is not yet completed. [CBC]

💳 The Merivale Costco has started using a verification scanner upon entry to keep out non-members, to cut down on card sharing and people accessing the food court. [CTV]

🏛️ The town council of Renfrew called on their mayor to resign in a 5-1 vote. A vote on the same lines removed the mayor from all committees, boards, and working groups. Town council voted no-confidence in Mayor Tom Sidney two months ago, after a new recreation centre nearly doubled in cost under his watch. [CTV]


Regret, but no apology, for man falsely tackled and arrested by police

What happened: The man who was tackled, tased, and arrested by police in a case of mistaken identity said it’s a case of racial profiling. Kane Niyondagara, who is Black, laid some of the blame at the feet of whoever called police on him, CBC reported.

  • In a statement made through his lawyer, Niyondagara told CBC he “is deeply disturbed that he was the victim of a false report made carelessly or maliciously by a member of the public.… The person who made this false report to the police based on racial profiling must bear the responsibility for it.”

He filed a report and complaint with the Ottawa Police Service early in March, but has yet to receive an apology for how he was treated. Officers came at him with guns drawn. He initially thought they were after him for jaywalking, and in a panic, he ran. Officers eventually caught up to him, where he was punched, hit, and zapped with a taser at least once. 

  • After finally confirming Niyondagara was not the man they were looking for, they released him bruised and battered, but without charge.

Regrets, they have a few: Police Chief Eric Stubbs said he was “extremely concerned” that police had gone after the wrong man and “want to have a discussion on that,” CTV reported. Officers appear to have been looking for a different Black man who is a suspect in an earlier murder.

  • “Look there's no doubt this was an unfortunate set of circumstances where an innocent man was arrested.… Our members thought they were confronting a homicide suspect they thought was armed and dangerous,” Stubbs said. “We deeply regret this happened to Mr. Niyondagara.”

Niyondagara’s lawyer is in early discussions with both the city and the police force to come to a settlement.


Okay, so at least part of why we chose today’s home is because it’s in a building called The Gotham. You grow up with Batman, and sometimes these things just pop out at you. What we have here is a one bedroom condo on Lyon. If you like exposed concrete walls and big windows, this might be the place for you. It’s got a modern kitchen, plus a bathroom with a tub and a stand-alone shower. 

House of The Week is a home selected by the Lookout team and is not a paid advertisement. All ads are labelled as such. If you’re a realtor who wishes to feature your home in our newsletter, please contact our sales team. 


Listings are provided by OttawaGigs.ca, the best place to discover live music in Ottawa. Check out Ottawagigs.ca for full listings across the city.

Riley Burns, Thursday 7 pm: Blending folk, indie rock, and Americana/Canadiana into stories of love, loss, and the human experience.  At Overflow Brewing, 2477 Kaladar Ave. Free Show. 

Siaka Diabaté & Raphael Weinroth-Browne, Thursday 8 pm: Beautiful West African kora meets emotive and virtuosic cello playing. At Montgomery Scotch Lounge, 750 Gladstone Ave. Tickets $10. 

B.A. Johnston, Friday 9 pm: Humour and absurdity mix with an eclectic blend of punk, rock, and folk music. At House of Targ, 1077 Bank St. Tickets $10.

Oddeline, Saturday 7 pm: Dreamy, vintage sounds weaved into thoughtful, carefully crafted songs influenced by folk, soul, and art rock. At Live! on Elgin, 220 Elgin St. Tickets $15 adv, $20 on door.

My Son the Hurricane, Saturday 8 pm: 12-piece, multi-horn, multi-drummer, multi-singer brass funk beast from Niagara. At Club SAW, 67 Nicholas St. Tickets $22.50.


💊 The Ontario College of Pharmacists said corporate pressure to fill quotas and move volume is putting patient safety at risk. Pharmacists are being asked to do more and more, in less time than ever, and it’s increasing the risk of errors. [Ottawa Citizen]

🥕 The Glebe’s McKeen Metro reopened after a weekend fire at the next-door Glebe Apothecary. Smoke damaged part of the grocery store, whose deli and bakery will be closed for repairs. [CTV]

💻 Retailer Giant Tiger said one of its third-party vendors was subject to a hack, and some customers' personal information was accessed. The stolen data includes names and emails of those subscribing to updates from the retailer. [CBC]

🩹 The Ottawa Hospital now offers band-aids in a variety of shades, to better match the skin tone of patients. [CTV]

💥 One person went to hospital after a driver crashed their car into La Bottega in the ByWard Market. The car broke a gas line, but fire crews were able to turn off the leaking line. One other person was treated by paramedics at the scene, but released. [CTV]

  • Conductor and composer Kevin Mallon will step down from Thirteen Strings at the end of the season. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • Irish Film Festival Ottawa | Arts Court, Daly Ave. | April 12th to 14th. Five award-winning Irish films, doc, thriller, drama, comedy. Opening on April 12th. [Sponsored]

  • We love a good historical photo, like this 1917 image of the construction of a new Centre Block, after the fire of parliament a year earlier. [Reddit]

  • Here’s what city services are open and closed for Easter weekend. [City of Ottawa]

  • Have you seen this bike? It was stolen recently in the ByWard Market. [Reddit]

  • Looking to help pick up trash this spring? The Cleaning the Capital program is looking for volunteers. [City of Ottawa] 

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


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Congrats to the 87 percent of you who knew the right answer to this week’s Ottawa Quiz. The fire that damaged the Glebe Apothecary was a three-alarm fire.

Do you know where today’s Ottawa Guesser is? The first five people to respond get their names mentioned in the newsletter.

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