Ted Arnott, MPP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2014
MPP Arnott continues to highlight need to pay down debt
(Queen’s Park) – In a statement in the Ontario Legislature on April 3, Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott continued to highlight the need to begin to pay down the provincial debt.
“When the budget is balanced, I continue to believe that the Provincial Government should commit itself to a long term debt repayment plan,” Mr. Arnott told Legislature. “We need to begin paying down the provincial debt in good years, instead of continuing to dig the hole deeper.”
Mr. Arnott’s reminder came a day after Finance Minister Charles Sousa tabled the Government’s Long Term Report on the Economy. This pessimistic report projects that the Ontario economy will only grow by an annual average of 2.1% over the next 20 years, while at the same time projecting an average annual inflation of 2.0%.
“As the Minister of Finance prepares his budget for this year, I again highlight this important issue,” said Mr. Arnott. “And over the next 20 years, let us build an Ontario economy that doesn’t stagnate, but instead allows us to pay down debt and achieve our full economic potential.”
Mr. Arnott has been ringing alarm bells on the size of the provincial debt for years.
In his maiden speech in the Ontario Legislature in 1990 he said: “We in Wellington understand the economic value of hard work and the social value of personal responsibility. From this understanding stems a serious concern when our government refuses to live within its means, when our government grows until it begins to inhibit overall economic growth, when even excessive taxation does not prevent the expansion of our government debt.”
Since that first speech, he has introduced three separate resolutions calling for a debt retirement plan in 1997, 2003 and most recently in April 2012.
“Since the Liberals took office in 2003, the provincial debt has now doubled to $272 billion,” Mr. Arnott said afterwards. “That means that every man, woman, and child in the Province of Ontario is on the hook for servicing over $20,000 of provincial debt. Instead of forever adding to the debt, we need to being paying down.”
(Attached: Hansard record of Mr. Arnott’s statement in the Ontario Legislature, April 3, 2014)
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Ontario Hansard – 03-April 2014
Mr. Ted Arnott: Yesterday, the Minister of Finance tabled the government’s long-term report on the economy. Instead of being aspirational-the Premier’s latest buzzword-the document is instead a very pessimistic outlook on the next 20 years in the province of Ontario. The report projects that the Ontario economy will grow by an annual average of 2.1%, while at the same time projecting average annual inflation over the same period of exactly 2%. This means that the government believes the provincial economy in Ontario will be essentially stagnant for the next 20 years-aspirational, indeed.
At the same time, the Minister of Finance would have us believe that the government will balance the provincial budget by 2017-18. He’s made this claim many times, but his claim has been thoroughly debunked by the Ministry of Finance’s own documents, which the member for Nipissing disclosed last month.
I submit that this government will never balance the provincial budget; however, I believe a successor government must, and will. When the budget is balanced, I continue to believe that the provincial government should commit itself to a long-term debt repayment plan. We need to begin to pay down the provincial debt in good years, instead of continuing to dig the hole deeper.
Two years ago I suggested that the government should create a new line item in the budget committing it to making a payment on the principal of the provincial debt of at least 2.5% of program spending of that fiscal year. As the Minister of Finance prepares his budget for this year, I again highlight this important issue.
Over the next 20 years, let us build an Ontario economy that doesn’t stagnate, but instead allows us to pay down the debt and achieve our full economic potential.