There can be hope after the past ten years

By MPP Toby Barrett
I’ve always been a believer that if you have the energy to complain and criticize then you’d better have the teeth to finding a solution.

Last week I wrote about the decline of our province. We cannot afford more tinkering around the edges. Ontario needs decisive action. The Province of Ontario needs a plan to provide real tax relief to Ontario families and businesses so we can all begin to work together to turn things around. We are also in dire need of sound and practical policy on issues of labour, energy and red tape.

We must focus on hard working men and women in the private sector who are paying the bills for the public sector. We need to cut red tape, cut taxes, to make our workplaces more competitive and productive.

Ontario must make tough decisions to balance its budget and start paying down the debt. Each year adds billions of dollars to the debt – now sitting at a staggering $260 billion.

The debt poses a huge risk to Ontario’s economy because businesses know that when governments are heavily in debt, taxes go up and necessary spending on bridge and transit infrastructure is put off. This threat of higher taxes and reduced services deters businesses from investing.

Balanced budgets, on the other hand, encourage businesses to invest in Ontario and in communities like Haldimand-Norfolk. This spurs economic growth and job creation, which in turn creates more tax dollars and leads to more balanced budgets. Economists call this the “Virtuous Circle of Growth.”

Right now Ontario needs a government that spends only what it has and sets priorities. That way we can safeguard the things we truly care about – quality education and health care – instead of trying to be all things to all people.

Ontarians know how to live within their means and build for the future. Government shouldn’t be any different. A household that is spending more than it was taking in would cut back – as should government.

Balanced budgets allow for tax relief and tax relief will undoubtedly create jobs. By putting people to work and entrepreneurs in business we can renew the promise of our province – the promise the next generation does better than the one before.

A sensible approach to energy and an end to the Feed-in-Tariff is required, replacing programs that drive electricity rates through the ceiling and pit neighbour against neighbour.

Agri-food supports our overall economy in Ontario. In addition to being a mainstay for jobs across rural Ontario, thousands of jobs in the Greater Toronto Area depend on food processing alone. But we’ve seen the creation of an urban-rural divide because government doesn’t understand how modern, sophisticated farming drives job creation. It’s vital we overturn 10 years of decisions by this government to get our rural economy and critical agriculture sector back in shape: lower taxes, affordable energy and rooting out a thicket of red tape.

That the future will happen is a matter of fact. What happens in the future is a matter of choice. Our comeback is within reach. We can get our major cities and rural Ontario moving. It won’t be easy, but it can be done and it will be worth it.