2017 provincial budget not balanced, Tories maintain

MPP Jim McDonell. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

New prescription drug coverage for only some pre-retirement adults

QUEEN’S PARK — Local MPP Jim McDonell and the Official Opposition Tories are crying foul on claims that yesterday’s provincial budget is balanced — contrary to the assertion of Finance Minister Charles Sousa, who is otherwise basking in headlines today about new drug coverage for young people.

McDonell and his colleagues maintain the 2017 budget contains an operational deficit of $5 billion — artfully covered up through one-time cash injections and “creative accounting.” As one example, they point to the government’s inclusion of $500 million in pension assets on the budget’s bottom line, despite the Auditor-General’s advice not to.

“The Financial Accountability Officer called the government out on their balanced budget statements from day one,” McDonell said. “Once again, we see government rhetoric hitting a wall of hard facts — the Liberals are spending more than what they earn and making Ontarians pay by cutting services such as rural education, raising the cost of living through higher fees and cap-and-trade and selling valuable public assets such as Hydro One to cover the deficit.”

The Wynne government’s latest budget has otherwise made waves for rolling out a number of goodies — 18 months out from the next provincial election. Highest profile of these is full coverage of prescription drugs for everyone under age 25, along with a new policy of not collecting student loans until a graduate earns at least $35,000 per year.

But the unimpressed Progressive Conservatives say the governing party is trying to “dupe” Ontarians with baubles before the next writ. They note that the budget contains:

  • Cuts to the Ministries of Agriculture, Northern Development and Economic Development;
  • A slowdown in GDP and employment growth;
  • A total provincial debt up by $10 billion to $311.9 billion – over $22,000 for every man, woman and child in Ontario.

“Ontarians deserve the truth, not government electioneering,” McDonell said.

“This can’t continue,” he continued. “The government must realize that the needs of Ontarians in overcrowded hospitals, seniors in cold and dark homes, students in schools facing closure and families struggling to make ends meet come before the interests of Liberal friends and failed idealistic policies that cause us nothing but misery.”


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