By MPP Toby Barrett
One of the goals of the upcoming budget is to create prosperity and better services. As an elected representative, one of my primary goals working with government and the private sector is to help create jobs for those who want to work. That’s what ‘open for business’ and ‘open for jobs’ really means. Much of it starts with fixing Ontario’s finances, restoring accountability, and trust.
It also starts with finding answers to questions like what efficiencies can be found in government? Where is the duplication? Where are we getting the best value for taxpayers? Are we making the most of every single tax dollar?
People are worried about out-of-control spending and electricity rates, keeping up with taxes, and keeping their jobs.
Ontario now has a government that respects every penny of hard-earned tax dollars. We cut the cap-and-trade carbon tax and reduced gas prices by 4.3 cents per litre for every driver in Ontario. Our government has found $3.2 billion in savings and cancelled billions of dollars in planned tax hikes. Ontario now has a business-friendly, jobs-friendly environment.
The fact remains Ontario inherited a $15 billion deficit from the previous government as well as a debt-to-GDP ratio over 40 per cent. Every dollar that goes into interest payments on the debt is a dollar that could and should go to hiring another nurse or fixing another school. Everything the government of Ontario does is at risk when deficits spiral out of control. That is why we have to bring Ontario’s books back to balance.
Our plan is to balance the budget in a modest and responsible manner because you don’t eliminate the $15 billion deficit from the last government overnight and you don’t eliminate it without difficult decisions.
As we go through this budget process, we are protecting frontline services and supporting frontline workers. We are doing our part for families in greatest need. We are looking carefully at how we can better help Ontario families.
We are actively looking at measures that will improve affordability for families because the economics are straightforward. When people and families have more money to spend and local businesses are able to invest in new jobs, the economy grows and that means more revenue for the things that matter.
For this government, one of the things that matters is the environment. But we don’t need a carbon tax to cut greenhouse gas emissions. We have released a comprehensive environmental plan under Environment Minister Rod Phillips. Under his leadership, Ontario will reach our targets without a carbon tax. Any taxes on carbon will drive up the cost of putting gas in your car, paying for your home heating bills, or putting food on your table.
We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we also have a lot going for us. We are blessed with natural resources. We sit at the crossroads of continental and global trade and have the best, most talented, most educated and hardest working people right here in Ontario.
Our challenge as government is to do our part and take advantage of the advantages we have to grow our economy. We will create new opportunities and we will ensure these opportunities are enjoyed by all.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk