The past ten years have been ten lost years

By MPP Toby Barrett

Our forbearers built a province that offered an unparalleled promise that if you worked hard you would be rewarded with more take-home pay, and with security to buy a home, raise a family and provide a future for that family. However, over the past decade government has broken that promise.

The current government has not been kind to broader Ontario over the past 10 years. Both our provincial debt and household energy rates have doubled. Jobs have fled the province. We’ve lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs, while the government rewarded itself by adding 300,000 to an already bloated bureaucracy.

Locally we’ve felt the wrath of the current government all too often. At the top of the list we’ve seen inaction in Caledonia with respect to the illegal land occupation that continues after seven years. This crisis has created an atmosphere of inequality and the perception that there is no longer one rule of law.

With the government’s slated closure of OPG Nanticoke, hundreds of local employees will be out of work by year’s end. Further, the McGuinty/Wynne mismanagement of energy policy has pitted neighbor against neighbor in Haldimand-Norfolk as we see large companies enticing landowners with windmill and solar power contracts. And recently we’ve learned that in the haste to save Liberal seats over $1.1 billion of our money was wasted to cancel two gas plants.

Constituents still shake their heads over the billion dollar eHealth boondoggle – an expensive experiment for Ontario taxpayers instead of a system better equipped to save lives.

If you’re one of the 12,000 people working for the Ontario Power Authority and making over $100,000 a year, you can afford this government’s decisions. If you’re one of the union leaders who campaigns for the government and gets annual pay raises you can afford this government’s decisions. If you’re living in Haldimand-Norfolk and slugging it out every day, chances are you can’t afford this government’s decisions.

Beyond the protected walls of the provincial government and their friends, average Ontarians haven’t had a raise in years and three-quarters don’t have a pension.

We have seen a policy of tax hikes over the past 10 years. Ontario has a tax-grab policy that encompasses not only business taxes but income taxes, and also consumption taxes – the HST. The current government now feels it fit to create the Ontario College of Trades tax instead of making long overdue changes to labour legislation.

Further, employers can expect WSIB premiums to rise, as well as the minimum wage. We have seen a hike in the tax rate on what I describe as the maximum wage, where both the other parties got together to, as they describe it, tax the rich at a rate of 49.5 per cent. That’s one of the highest tax rates in North America.

We’ve seen red tape instead of results. We’ve seen wreckless spending over responsible decisions and the favouring of political friends over a fair playing field for all.

It’s been too easy for Premiers McGuinty and Wynne to look the other way over the years and say “Not us, not now” when facing the tough issues.

Our province cannot afford more tinkering around the edges by this government. Ontario needs decisive action. The Province of Ontario needs a plan on how we can all work together to turn things around.