(Queen’s Park) – The following is Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott’s response to the budget speech delivered today in the Ontario Legislature by Finance Minister Charles Sousa:
To be effective, leaders need to establish trust and build on it.
In his 2018 Provincial Budget speech, Finance Minister Charles Sousa had a golden opportunity to restore credibility to Ontario’s budget numbers, by signalling his willingness to accept the Auditor General’s recommended public sector accounting standards and incorporate them into his budgetary process.
Instead, he ignored the Auditor General’s legitimate criticism that the Government has been using “bogus” accounting methods.
This is a very serious concern, because if the Government is using creative accounting to come up with its budget numbers, the very integrity of the Province of Ontario is in question.
There is a quote which is often attributed to Winston Churchill: “In politics, if you have integrity, nothing else matters. And if you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”
This budget comes just before a provincial election, which is scheduled for June 7th. Obviously, that makes it more so a political statement than a budget for the coming fiscal year.
Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals hope that the budget will end their downward slide in the public opinion polls and make people want to vote for them. However, time and time again the Liberals have squandered the trust of Ontario voters. People want an end to the scandals, mismanagement and wasteful Government spending that have come to define the Wynne Government. Notwithstanding the commitments in the budget, we need a change in Government at Queen’s Park.
Ontario also needs a long-term debt repayment plan. I have been calling for this for many years.
Why is this so?
Since the Liberals took office in 2003, they have more than doubled the provincial debt, taking it from about $139 billion to an estimated $308 billion as of this month. This year’s budget projects deficits for the next 6 years, through to 2024. Next year if they are still in office, the Liberals plan to add almost $17 billion more to the debt, bringing it up to a staggering $325 billion. Interest costs on the debt continue to go up. Many people will be shocked to learn that the Liberals are spending more than $1 billion every month on interest payments, without paying down a nickel on the principal owed. They spend more on debt interest than they do on colleges, universities and skills training. By next year, each and every person in Ontario will owe, in effect, $22,511 for their share of the provincial debt. This number is up almost $800 from this past year.
On a positive note, I was pleased to again see reference to our new Groves Memorial Community Hospital in the Budget Papers document. However, I looked for but could not find any additional information about the Government’s commitment to build a new university campus in Halton, or the new Halton Courthouse that we’d been promised. I intend to follow up on these matters with the relevant Ministers in the remaining days of this Parliament.
In just over 10 weeks, the people of Ontario will have the opportunity to render their verdict on this Liberal Government.
You deserve better. Much better.
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Ted Arnott, MPP