Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak is right on the money about the budget released today by the McGuinty Government . It was both weak and cowardly given how serious the Ontario fiscal situation is known to be.
In fact, today’s budget simply confirms that the Ontario Liberals have no intention of making the structural changes that are needed to turn Ontario’s fiscal situation around. Rather, they are just going to keep right on doing what they have always done, spend money they don’t have and to heck with the deficit and long-term debt.
Oh sure, Premier McGuinty and Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, talk about balancing the budget by 2017. However, that is Alice in Wonderland thinking. According to Don Drummond, it simply is not possible to do that without major spending reductions.
And, this budget contains none of the strong medicine that was required — in spite of the fact that the Winnipeg Free Press has a column with a title referring to the Ontario budget as a “deficit slaying” plan.
Deficit slaying? I mean, how out to lunch is that? I mean, Don Drummond made it clear at the time his report was tabled, that the Ontario government had to make cuts even deeper than Mike Harris did in the mid 1990`s in order to get economically solvent again. That sure didn’t happen today.
- The Ontario Liberal deficit is three times the size of all other provinces combined and counting;
- Spending increases are actually slated for 14 out of 24 ministries;
- Spending on full-day kindergarten/early learning program (ELP) and wind energy projects will continue as planned; and
- There is no plan to put policies in place that would create private sector jobs, apart from creating yet another advisory body.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there was no concrete action in today’s budget on the cost of public sector compensation, other than consultations with the affected stakeholders about putting a freeze on public sector wages –which means wage freezes will never happen.
So, what might the Winnipeg Free Press be referring to when they called the Ontario Liberal budget as a “deficit slaying plan?” Well, there will be a delay on the increase in the Child Benefit. So how does a delay help the deficit? Instead of $200.00 right away, there will be $100 this year and $100 next year. By my calculations, that is still a $200 increase long before the deficit is slayed.
Lastly, however, there likely will be a freeze on welfare and disability benefits, meaning, the poorest of the poor who aren’t able to lobby on their own behalf are the only groups that will feel the pain. Talk about waffling and cowardly behaviour. Can you just imagine the reaction in the media if a conservative government did that?
So, Premier Dalton McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan get a failing grade on their do-nothing March 2012 budget.