A have-not budget for a have-not province

By MPP Toby Barrett

The man who turned Ontario into a have-not province has released a have-not budget.

And what’s missing from Premier McGuinty ‘s 2011 provincial budget may very well cause grief for Ontario’s hard-working families as promises of new spending often bring new taxes to balance the equation – and in Mr. McGuinty’s Ontario, promises of no new taxes usually mean we can expect to soon be paying more.

The McGuinty government has increased government spending by 77 per cent since coming to office. But our economy has only grown by 9 per cent over those years. Despite promises not to raise taxes prior to the 2003 election, we saw the largest income tax grab in the history of Ontario. After the 2007 election and more promises, Ontario then saw the largest sales tax hike increase in the history of Ontario.

And just a few days ago, Ontarians learned that the hidden eco tax has saddled taxpayers with $18 million in advertising and legal fees. And despite a year that saw Mr. McGuinty render uncalculated damage to the concepts of environmentalism and stewardship, Ontario’s 2011 budget makes no mention of restoring the province’s environmental credibility. In fact, we are still waiting for a revamped Waste Diversion Act that the former Environment Minister promised we would see close to a year ago.

Ontario’s 2011 budget only furthers the McGuinty government direction to ramp up spending year after year – this year tallying a $16.7 billion deficit and leaving Ontario flat broke with a record $220 billion debt. To balance the budget down the road, we have the spectre of raising taxes again because the numbers don’t add up. Will it be new taxes – a carbon tax, a water tax – or an increase in the HST?

Families in Haldimand-Norfolk have been paying the price for McGuinty’s runaway spending and have received little in return but new and higher taxes. As they say: ‘The first time Mr. McGuinty swore to Ontario families he wouldn’t raise taxes and then he did — shame on him. The second time Mr. McGuinty said he wouldn’t raise taxes and then he did, shame on me. But if we believe when he says for a third time that he won’t raise taxes, then shame on all of us.’

In his last budget before the election, McGuinty did come through for farmers with new risk management support for cattle, hog, sheep and veal calf. But it took the pressure of a coming election. In addition, the program has been extended for corn, soy and wheat. As well, fruit and vegetable growers will see the restoration of self-directed risk management.

This budget was an opportunity to turn the corner away from disastrous spending policies and focus on returning to fiscal accountability. This budget failed on both counts. The people – seniors, hard-working families – of our great riding, and all across Ontario, deserve better.

Ontario has traditionally been viewed as one of Canada’s rich provinces and has historically contributed more to transfer payments than it receives. Eight Ontario budgets after his first election, Mr. McGuinty’s tax and spend agenda has re-created Ontario as a have-not province. His latest budget does nothing to change that direction. It may be his last.