Higher fees, taxes to bankroll spending addiction

By MPP Toby Barrett

In our homes, when money’s short, we reign in our spending.

This current provincial government does not have a revenue problem, but rather a serious spending problem – especially, with respect to wasteful spending, and the scandalous spending of eHealth, Caledonia, Ornge and the gas plants.

It is therefore particularly galling to hear of a draft Treasury Board document proposing something like 50 new user fees to boost revenue to bankroll even more spending.

One has to wonder; in light of recent scandals that have cost this province billions of dollars, how Premier Wynne can justify asking for more money? These new money grabs follow on the heels of musings about increasing the HST and increasing gas taxes to fund Toronto transit – yet none of these measures were referred to in the recent budget.

The proposed Toronto transit cash-grab and Treasury fee document follow what is now a well-established modus operandi for this government – i.e. spend us into a deep hole, and then hit us with even more taxes and fees to try and undo the damage.

Of course none of this comes as a surprise from a regime still raking in billions from its health tax after campaigning on a no-new-taxes pledge.

Opposition Leader Tim Hudak has been rising during Question Period asking the Minister of Finance, if “you have a plan to bring in a significant increase in user fees to help pay for your runaway spending?” The minister twice dodged the straightforward questions, before Mr. Hudak sent over the draft Treasury document to tweak his memory. This resulted in further stonewalling.

In fact, it wasn’t until much later in the day, after Finance Minister Sousa had accused the Opposition Leader of, “making things up”, that he finally admitted the tax-grab concepts were in a document titled, “2013-14 non-tax revenue (NTR) proposals.”

The proposals range from a surcharge on traffic tickets, to a fee increase for the Drive Clean test, to a new phone bill tax. Government has turned to taxpayers to fund its addiction to overspending. Their plans also include, the reintroduction of photo radar, a $108 validation fee on passenger vehicles, and proposed hikes to hunting and fishing licences.

We all recognize Ontario’s $11.7 billion deficit is a hurdle we must overcome; but increased taxation and new user fees are not the way to go. Instead of reaching into the pockets of hard-working Ontarians time and again, this government must find efficiencies within its own.

People in Haldimand and Norfolk realize when times are tough, you re-consider spending. You reduce excess, and trim down your expenses. If this government would simply make the same responsible choices, we could help get this province back to balance, and begin building the economy. This can restore jobs to Ontario.

Instead government treats taxpayers like a limitless line of credit. The fact is the McGuinty/ Wynne government has been overdrawn for years now, the credit has dried up, and it’s time to tell them the bank is closed!

This cry for higher taxes is the sign of a government that is out of ideas and out of gas. Raising taxes is the first and last resort of this government. Taxpayers are already doing their part. It’s high time politicians do theirs – cut spending, find efficiencies, and look for ways to bring down the deficit without further damage to Ontario’s economy.