Government dropped ball on debt, slots

The Ontario Legislature resumed sitting on Aug. 27, amidst growing labour unrest in our public schools.

The leadership of Ontario’s teachers’ federations are furious with Premier McGuinty.

The union leaders have supported him through four consecutive provincial elections. He has demonstrated his appreciation for their support with pay increases for teachers in excess of inflation every year he’s been premier – every year except this one.

This year, the government initiated a two-year pay freeze, with many complicated exceptions.

Faced with a deficit of around $15 billion this year, rising debt interest costs of $10 billion, a stagnating revenue outlook, and the prospect of even more credit downgrades, the premier finally woke up to the fact that Ontario is on a downward spiral towards a fiscal crisis unless he acts now.

For years, the Ontario PC Caucus warned him this day would come. We urged the government to moderate its program spending increases, and maintain control of overall expenditures.

They laughed at us. And they voted down my own initiatives to draw attention to the growing provincial debt and the need to pay it down when times were good.

Now is the time for all the participants to put the public interest to the fore, and show the leadership that Ontario needs.

Teachers’ union leaders, the government and the Legislative Assembly all need to work together, and put the needs of our students first. There is no place for partisan politics in Ontario’s classrooms. There never was.

In my experience, our classroom teachers are dedicated, caring professionals. The vast majority of teachers just want to teach.

Horses and slots

In July, I wrote about the McGuinty government’s decision to end the Slots at Racetracks revenue sharing agreement.

It is estimated that 60,000 jobs are in jeopardy, largely in small town and rural Ontario.

We suspected that the government hadn’t done its homework prior to making the decision, hadn’t properly consulted, and did not understand the full economic impact of ending the Slots at Racetracks program.

That belief has been confirmed to be accurate. Considering the jobs hanging in the balance, it’s a disgrace.

Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott welcomes your comments. He can be reached at 1-800-265-2366.  His website is




Ted Arnott