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No new taxes coming in Thursday's budget, says Ontario finance minister

TORONTO - Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan says there will be no new taxes in Thursday's budget.

TORONTO - Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan says there will be no new taxes in Thursday's budget.

There will be nothing in the budget about asset sales either, he said, even though the government says it's looking at all options to help pay down an unprecedented $25-billion deficit. "There are no new taxes," Duncan said Monday. "And again, beyond that, I can't talk a lot about what's in the budget on Thursday."

The governing Liberals haven't ruled out the possible sale of assets such as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario or the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.

But they are looking at options that range from privatization of Crown corporations to bundling several assets into a corporation and selling off shares.

That review hasn't been completed yet, Duncan said.

Thursday's budget is also expected to provide a road map for the government to rebalance the books, which will be awash in red ink for at least five years.

Duncan shouldn't be trusted when just last week, the government quietly created a new conservation tax on hydro bills that will cost consumers about $4 a year, said Opposition Leader Tim Hudak.

"I mean, c'mon, they just introduced a new tax increase this week and we had to raise it in the house today," he said.

"There's a $53-million tax increase that (Premier) Dalton McGuinty tried to slip through. Who knows what else he's got up his sleeve?"

The new levy will help cover $53 million of the government's conservation and green energy program and will likely appear on hydro bills in May.

The Liberals say the cost will be minimal, but the hike will come just before consumers are hit with the 13 per cent harmonized sales tax.

The Liberals said the cost will be minimal, adding up to an increase of $4 per customer over the course of a year.