On a Thursday afternoon we were fortunate to meet with the Honourable Charles Sousa, the Minister of Finance. Minister Sousa began our meeting by detailing his impressive professional journey in the private sector before making the switch to the public sector and political life. Minister Sousa was inspired to switch to public life as he found himself often engaging more and more in political activities, a need to serve his community and a sense of duty to help those around him. Minister Sousa carries out this responsibility by ensuring key aspects of his mandate such as the annual provincial budget, serves all Ontarians.
Minister Sousa guided us through the various stages and nuances of the budget cycle. We learned how in the allocations phase, the Ministry of Finance takes requests for funding from ministries. In the projection phase, actual costs and expenses of government programs are examined. For example, they are currently looking at the financial impacts of OHIP+ and the cap and trade system. The Premier’s Office and cabinet work closely together, constantly communicating to be on the same page and aligned on the budget. To this end, Minister Sousa regularly takes meetings with his colleagues to understand their funding needs and priorities. One challenge the Minister contends with is that his mandate only allows him to control spending and has little to no leverage on the interest on debt.
When balancing his role as Minister of Finance with his local obligations as MPP for Mississauga South, Sousa stressed the importance of being close to his constituents and the need to go back home to his family. As he detailed Ontario’s plan to open 40 marijuana distribution stores, he justified this policy due to the enforcement, regulation, control and safety it provides Ontarians. We could not help but chuckle as the Minister made a joke about “becoming the biggest pot dealer in the world”.
Thank you Minister Sousa for meeting with us and answering our questions!