Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday she is resigning and the province is in “terrible shape.”
Wynne’s surprise decision to quit follows a week in which her Liberals suffered a blowout loss in the Ontario legislature and were forced to backtrack on a promised tax hike.
Wynne, who led the Liberals to a majority in the legislature for the first time in 20 years, made the announcement in a letter to the premier’s staff.
She said the Liberals were facing “unprecedented challenges” and called for a “transition” and “reorganization.”
“Today, I have resigned as premier and I am leaving the province,” she said.
“This is not about me.
This is not a resignation of my government, this is not just about me.”
She added that she will work to find a successor.
The Ontario Liberals won a majority government in the province’s legislature on Oct. 4, 2018.
In a statement, the Progressive Conservatives accused Wynne of abandoning the Liberals’ core promise to “raise taxes for the middle class” and to “stop the train wreck of Ontario’s debt.”
In an interview with The Associated Press, Wynne defended her decision.
“I did what I thought was right at the time,” she told AP.
“My commitment to the Liberals was clear and my decision was a very difficult one.
I will take the blame.”
Her government has been embroiled in a financial crisis, which has left the province with a $4 billion deficit, and with no new revenue to balance the books.
Critics of the Liberals say they have done little to help struggling Ontarians, who have been left with a debt of $1.6 billion.
“I was elected to serve Ontarians and not to profit from them,” Wynne told AP after her announcement.
“That’s my mission.”
Wineau has faced mounting criticism over her handling of the province, which was facing a $2 billion budget deficit before the tax hike was announced.
While she has faced criticism from many Ontarians over the fiscal crisis, she also faced criticism after she had to back down on a promise to increase the province-wide gas tax to fund the $15-billion Trans-Canada pipeline project.
It is unclear if she will run for re-election in 2019.
Despite her resignation, Wynne said she will remain in her role as premier until the provincial election in 2019, when a new premier will take over.
Her departure comes amid a worsening economy, with the unemployment rate in Ontario at nearly 13 per cent, with youth unemployment at nearly 15 per cent and with poverty at the highest rate in Canada.
Ontario is expected to hit its 2018 budget deficit of $3.5 billion, with $1 billion in savings expected to come from eliminating the provincial pension plan.