By MPP Toby Barrett
In 1995, Tim Hudak and I first ran for election on a promise from Mike Harris to create one million jobs – and subsequently that promise became reality.
Fast-forward 18 years and we see one million of our friends and neighbours without jobs. It’s again time for a plan to put our province back to work.
Recently, Opposition Leader Tim Hudak announced he will table legislation when the Ontario Legislature resumes mid-February, titled the Million Jobs Act. If passed, this legislation will immediately begin its task of creating jobs and helping young people achieve their goals.
Hudak presents a multi-point economic plan:
- Produce more jobs and increase take-home pay through lower taxes and less debt
- Foster affordable energy that will create jobs, not eliminate them
- Train more skilled workers to meet the demand in trades, and help young people find good jobs
- Increase trade with our neighbours
- End the bureaucratic runaround that inhibits job creation
Over the past 10 years the current government has increased taxes across the board, but at the same time has spent so much money that our debt doubled. This year alone Ontario is looking at a $12 billion deficit that will be added to the existing $278 billion debt. The Million Jobs Act will balance the budget quickly using tools like a government wage freeze and tax cuts for families, and for employers so they can start to hire again. Tax cuts create jobs.
It makes more sense for hardworking families and businesses to have more money in their bank accounts to save, invest or spend as they feel fit. We can’t create more jobs if we’re just scraping by or falling behind.
Constituents continuously tell me they can’t keep pace with their bills, especially the ones for electricity. Instead of keeping power rates down to help create jobs in the broader economy, government has chosen to create jobs within the power sector itself.
Hudak’s legislationwill end expensive wind and solar subsidies that drive up costs and punish both manufacturers and families in Ontario.
Between 2003 and 2013, Ontario lost 302,000 manufacturing jobs and gained 306,000 government jobs. This is backwards and wrong-headed! Ontario lost another 39,000 jobs in December, the most of any province, while the government payroll increased yet again by another 13,000 civil servants.
Colleges Ontario estimates there are 46 per cent fewer trades people per capita in Ontario compared to the rest of Canada. The Million Jobs Act will create an apprentice-to-journeyman ratio of one-to-one and scrap the College of Trades – a costly bureaucracy that imposes a tax on workers.
Internal trade barriers cost our Canadian economy $50 billion a year. The proposed legislationwill mandate Ontario government negotiations to join the economic partnership of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. We must ensure the products we manufacture in Ontario can be sold to as many customers as possible.
Last, but certainly not least, we must put an end to bureaucratic red tape costing our businesses $11 billion annually. When shopkeepers, farmers and factory owners are pushing government paper, it takes way from making money and hiring people.
Ontario can and will do better. I look forward to the all-party debate of the Million Jobs Act when the Legislature reconvenes.