By Christine Van Geyn
On March 28, the Ontario government tabled a budget with what Wynne is calling a “modest” deficit. After years of committing to balance the budget, the premier is now reneging on her promise with an itsy bitsy teeny weenie deficit of just $8 billion.
In other words, Wynne is just overspending this year by $560 per person.
When you take into account that Ontarians are already spending $840 per person each year on interest for the debt, the burden of this government’s fiscal mismanagement on the people of this province becomes staggering.
This year’s deficit and interest payments will cost a family of four $5,600. That’s money your family owes to bankers and bond holders because the government takes out loans in your name. That isn’t modest. It isn’t small.
It’s an enormous burden on Ontarians and our children. Families aren’t receiving $5,600 more in services as a result of all this over-spending, unless they’re one of Wynne’s chosen few.
Like the one of the wealthy Ontarians who can afford the six-figure price tag of a Tesla, and get a $14,000 cheque at taxpayer expense.
Or, the teachers unions, who were paid $2.5 million to cover their own cost of labour negotiations against the government.
Or, the marketing folks who developed the government ads that cost taxpayers $58 million last year.
Those were some of the costs of deficits in years past that your family paid for. What will your $5,600 pay for this year?
We have a huge provincial debt. More debt than any province in Canada. More debt than some countries. And it has more than doubled since 2003, when this government took office.
It has grown from $139 billion to $312 billion because of repeated years of “small” and “modest” deficits.
A recent poll by Campaign Research found that of the top five issues for Ontarians, four are financial. Ontarians are most concerned about affordability, government accountability, government waste, high taxes and, of course, are perpetually concerned about health care.
While it is possible to spend the entire $8 billion deficit improving health care, we already know that isn’t what the government is planning.
In the lead up to the budget, they announced the money they’ll be spending on health care. Next year, Ontario will spend $525 million more on mental health, $575 million on subsidized drugs for seniors, and $822 million more on hospitals.
That’s certainly a large spending commitment; just under $2 billion. But, it can’t explain the rest of the $8 billion in planned over-spending.
And, the other four issues that are top of mind for Ontarians can’t be solved by spending at all. In fact, government waste, accountability, high taxes, and cost of living are best addressed by the government spending less, not more.
Taxpayers need to take a serious look at the budget and ask themselves if an additional $5,600 in their household budget is “modest,” and who could spend it better; their family, or Premier Wynne?
Christine Van Geyn is the Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Canada’s leading non-partisan citizens’ advocacy group fighting for lower taxes, less waste, and accountable government.