We can ill-afford Ontario’s waste and mismanagement

By MPP Toby Barrett

As of this summer, Ontario’s debt has now topped $300 billion – a debt that has more than doubled in the 13 years the present government have been in office. We pay over $10 billion every year in interest charges – spending that is only surpassed by the budgets for health care and education. This debt translates into over $22,000 for each of us.

Our economy is more than struggling reinforcing the fact that government’s high-spending gallop should have been reined in years ago. Yet, we see announced spending of $8.3 billion on a cap and trade system despite the fact it was not part of the 2014 election campaign.

As I have conveyed through this column on numerous occasions, skyrocketing electricity rates add to the burden. There are many who simply cannot afford to pay their bills. Electricity in our province is not a luxury, and yet we’ve been told rates could soar by another 42 per cent over the next few years. Smart meters cost us $1 billion and have provided no savings on our bills.

Independent energy consultant Parker Gallant recently re-affirmed Ontario’s energy prices are the highest on the continent when global adjustment, delivery and HST are added in. Although the explanation from this government focuses on the energy price only, what matters to the people is the total amount out of their pocket. And then we hear successful bidders in the last round of new wind proposals all donated to the Liberal Party.

During recent summer outreach meetings, two constituents brought up the eHealth scandal and asked me whether or not Ontario will ever see the full implementation of electronic health records even though one billion dollars was spent on the program

One billion dollars was also the tab for the gas plant scandal, and once the OPP investigation is completed we’ll get the tally for ORNGE air ambulance.

Rewind a few years and you may recall the infamous promise not to raise taxes in Ontario. Premier McGuinty signed a pledge but then brought forward the health tax – the then-largest single tax increase in our province’s history. At the same time the Liberals brought in the health tax, they delisted a number of key services covered by OHIP including chiropractor care, physiotherapy and optometry.

In 2010, taxpayers were again shocked with the HST, increasing prices on goods and services like electricity, home heating, real estate, internet access, used vehicles and travel by air, rail and bus. Despite top economists urging the HST be made revenue neutral, the government did nothing to soften the blow from what replaced the health tax as the largest grab in our province’s history.

This government’s myriad tax grabs have made life very difficult, particularly for low income earners and seniors. My office hears from these folks on a daily basis.

There is additional waste and scandal but these top the list people remind me of at coffee shops, parades and events around the riding.

It’s no mistake we are in economic despair in Ontario with mismanagement and cronyism running rampant.

If Ontario were a business, it would have shut its doors long ago, but in this case you and I continue to pay for the mistakes. What happens when we run out of money?