TORONTO — Fitch Ratings downgraded Ontario’s long-term debt rating Friday, highlighting “risks” on the path to the Liberal government’s target of balancing the budget by 2017-18.The rating agency cut its long-term issuer default rating to AA- from AA, saying “difficult actions” will be necessary for the province to achieve its target of eliminating the $12.5-billion deficit.“Budget options are likely to prove more limited given the extent of actions taken to date and use of one-time actions to achieve targets, in Fitch’s opinion,” the agency said.“The downgrade to AA- reflects Fitch’s concern that risks remain to achieving its goals and both debt burden and the accumulated deficit will remain significantly elevated.”Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said the government remains committed to eliminating the deficit by 2017-18, but the Fitch announcement underscores the challenges the province’s economy faces.“Our government has been consistently clear that we must remain focused as our economy emerges from the effects of the great global recession,” Sousa said in a statement.Ontario’s finance minister on Moody’s cutting province’s outlook to negative: ‘The bankers aren’t freaking’Ontario debt rating outlook cut to negative by Moody’s“That’s why we put forward a budget that speaks to strategic investments in economic growth and job creation, while at the same time transforming government by achieving our savings targets and limiting program spending growth to 1.1%.”Fitch also improved Ontario’s ratings outlook to stable from negative.“The province has demonstrated the ability to exert considerable, ongoing expenditure restraint while instituting revenue changes as necessary to achieve its deficit reduction objectives, pointing to the strength of provincial management,” the rating agency said.However, Fitch noted that while near-term budget goals have been exceeded, full fiscal recovery following the global recession “remains several years away.”“Fitch believes that the province will also be challenged in restraining ongoing capital spending to make progress in lowering the high debt burden and accumulated deficit over time,” it said.Even if Ontario meets its goal of balance it will still be left with a large debt burden, Fitch said.Ontario’s auditor general issued a similar warning last week, cautioning that despite Ontario’s work to eliminate its deficit, the province’s rising net debt — the difference between its liabilities and its total assets — could have a number of negative implications for its finances in the future.By 2017-18 the province’s net debt will have soared to $325 billion, more than double the $156.6 billion a decade ago, the report estimated.Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk’s report noted that the government now spends more on debt interest than it does on post-secondary education, and those interest costs are growing.Moody’s credit rating agency changed Ontario’s debt rating in July to negative from stable, citing concerns about the province’s ability to eliminate the deficit as scheduled.Ontario’s opposition parties have long expressed skepticism that the Liberal government will be able to meet its 2017-18 target of balance.
Civmec wins three contracts in Australia. (Credit: Pixabay/David Mark.) Civmec, an Australia-based heavy engineering and construction services provider, announced that it has secured three contracts in Australia with a combined value of A$175m ($126m).As per Civmec, the three contracts are from the metals and minerals and the oil and gas sectors and are expected to contribute significantly to a solid base load of activity for its manufacturing facilities.The first contract is from BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) to fabricate, modularise and carry out commissioning of a ship loader, for its Hay Point loading port in Central Queensland.The second contract is from Woodside Energy, for a term of five years, with an option to extend it for one more year. As per the contract, it will support Woodside’s onshore and offshore production facilities and capital projects in Australia.And, for the third contract, Civmec will supply modules for the Iron Bridge Magnetite project, a joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Iron Bridge and Formosa Steel IB.Civmec to complete BMA contract in second half of 2022For the first contract, BMA has selected Civmec to fabricate, modularise and commission the 1,800T SL2A ship loader at Hay Point Coal Terminal.The project is still subject to final board approval from BHP and Mitsubishi.As per the contract, Civmec will supply and assemble the ship loader, up to the no-load commissioning stage.The firm will manufacture the large material handling equipment at its Henderson manufacturing facility in Western Australia.Work is expected to begin immediately and is anticipated to be completed in the second half of 2022. During the peak manufacture period, nearly 150 jobs in Perth could be created.For the second contract, Civmec will support Woodside’s onshore and offshore facilities.For the third contract, Civmec will supply 4,700 tonnes of conveyor, trusses and trestles for the Iron Bridge Magnetite Project. Work is expected to begin this month and the majority of it could be completed in FY21.Civmec CEO Patrick Tallon said: “We are extremely pleased to be given this opportunity to further support BHP in the delivery of a ship loader. This contract follows on from other smart modules and machines delivered by Civmec for BHP projects as part of our partnership delivering high quality, complex machines.”“We are also privileged to have secured a long-term contract with Woodside, having delivered several projects to them in the past.“This contract will provide us with a base load of work and allow us to work with Woodside as a partner to optimise efficiencies and savings in the delivery of our services to them over the longer term.” The company has three contracts are from the metals and minerals and the oil and gas sectors