TORONTO -- Ontario's Progressive Conservative government spent the entire $13.3 billion COVID-19 contingency fund, the province's finance minister revealed today, pouring cold water on opposition criticism that the government was sitting on unspent cash.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy reported the province's third quarter finances on Wednesday, projecting a total expenditure of $189.7 billion for the 2020-2021 fiscal year -- $2.6 billion higher than was projected in the November 2020 budget.

Since then, the government had to budget an additional $1.4 billion to provide grants for small businesses struggling through the pandemic, $869 million in additional funding for hospitals, $135 million for the province's vaccination strategy and $105 million to lower hydro rates for homeowners.

The Doug Ford government faced constant criticism over COVID-19 spending after a expenditure report from province's Financial Accountability Officer in December revealed that $12 billion in a pandemic contingency fund had not been spent by the end of the second quarter.

Bethlenfalvy insisted that every single cent would be spent by the end of the fiscal year on Mar. 31, and made good on that promise during the latest quarterly spending report.

"While some have criticized us for setting aside funds, thank goodness we had the resources available to respond to the second wave," Bethlenfalvy said.

Bethlenfalvy said the "record levels of government spending" will result in a $38.5 billion deficit for the current fiscal year to make up for COVID-19 spending and the massive $1 billion hit to personal income tax revenue as a result of job losses, and a $220 million decline in the gas tax due to more people working from home.

The province noted, however, that revenue from sales tax increased by $1.1 billion as a result of the a "strong rebound" in spending during the second half in 2020.

While the government has boasted about its COVID-19 spending, it could face fresh criticism over its social services spending which is $427 million lower than budgeted as a result of federal supports.

Senior officials in the Ministry of Finance insisted that the savings are not a result of claw backs of social assistance cheques but rather as a result of federal emergency programs being extended for a longer period of time then the province expected.

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services -- which includes autism services and social assistance -- has also underspent by $209.5 million for the current fiscal year.