In the years I’ve been privileged to serve in the Ontario Legislature, I think I’ve heard and publicly responded to 22 provincial budget speeches.
Each one had a central story; each one had an interesting subtext; each one included some significant numbers.
The central story of the 2013 budget speech is that Premier Kathleen Wynne is taking the same overall approach to budgeting as her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty. Bigger government, higher spending and higher deficits continue. Little has changed.
The subtext of the 2013 budget was the political auction sale that led up to it, with the Liberals bidding ever higher and higher, with taxpayers’ money, to buy the support of the NDP.
The Liberals were prepared to meet every single request the NDP put forward, and then some. The Government veered to the left to get the NDP on side, so that they could hang on to power a little bit longer.
The 2013 budget’s significant numbers include the following:
– the deficit is up almost $2 billion this fiscal year, from $9.8 billion to $11.7 billion (in effect, the Liberals are borrowing $1.3 million an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year);
– the debt is up $20 billion this year, from about $253 billion to $273 billion (the Liberal have almost doubled the debt in the last 10 years);
– spending is up $3.6 billion this year, from $124 billion to $127.6 billion (spending continues to go up in no fewer than 15 provincial ministries);
– transfers from the Government of Canada to the Province of Ontario are up $765 million this year, from $21.7 billion to $22.5 billion; and
– interest on the debt is up by $233 million this year, from $10.4 billion to $10.6 billion.
The Liberals would have hoped to generate at least some “good news” in the days leading up to budget day, and its immediate aftermath. However, the Oakville and Mississauga gas plants scandal overshadowed the budget presentation.
People in Wellington-Halton Hills now know that the government dramatically and repeatedly understated the true cost of cancelling the gas plants.
I do not support the overall budgetary policy of this Liberal government, and intend to speak and vote against it.
“Our Ontario PC Caucus stands ready and prepared to assume the responsibility of government again; to restore this province to its rightful place as a leader in Confederation; to strengthen our economy so that our province becomes a magnet for investment and the creation of the new jobs we need; to ensure that quality health care is accessible for those who need it; that our schools are centres of learning, idealism and inspiration; that taxpayers’ money is managed prudently, not flagrantly wasted; and that government is truthful and forthcoming, not sneaky and evasive.”
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Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott welcomes comments. He can be reached at 1-800-265-2366. His website address is www.tedarnottmpp.com.