Ontario’s finance minister says the province is on track for a deficit this year of $18.7 billion and still expects to end 2010 with “solid growth,” despite a sharp slowdown in the economy over the past few months.

Dwight Duncan, who was speaking in New York Thursday, said the deficit will be in line with his fall projection and has been reduced sharply from the $26.7 billion that was forecast in the provincial budget last spring.

He said in an interview that the province also remains on course to match its revised projections for GDP growth of about two per cent in each of the next two years and will “meet or exceed our deficit reduction targets.”

Duncan, who along with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty travelled to New York to drum up investment to help sustain Canadian growth, said Ontario is viewed as one of the world’s most stable places to locate a plant or start a business.

He said a $1.4-billion Ontario bond issue this week sold out quickly, adding that Chinese banks were buying the bonds, helping to give Ontario a more diverse source of funding.

Duncan also said he will continue to press for a national securities regulator, even though other provinces have said they might not join in, opting instead to create regional ones: “All the best advice we’ve got from all over the world says what Canada needs is one regulator.”