Premier’s bag of tricks, disguised as treats

By MPP Toby Barrett

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent much time talking to folks from across the riding. Most recently, at Waterford’s Pumpkinfest and, of course, at other fairs and festivals.

While people are happy to attend the festivities, they are quick to speak about concerns with the way our province and country are being managed, or should we say, mismanaged.

The mismanagement can be deceitful, and some of the tricks can often be disguised as treats.

Case in point, at the Norfolk County Fair, literature was circulated suggesting government would continue to cut your hydro bill. And this from the same government that for the past 14 years made life harder by hiking Ontario’s electricity rates to the highest in North American history.

The government’s 25 per cent cut to our bills, as part of their Fair Hydro Plan, is welcome news today but the trick is this…according to Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer the price tag for today’s $24-billion relief may cost Ontarians $45-billion-plus over the next 29 years. Predicated on balanced budgets and low interest rates, this re-election ploy is “fantasyland” as a re-election plan. There’s definitely nothing fair about sticking future generations with cost of energy blunders dating back to Dalton McGuinty.

Government is masterful in crafting its message. In fact in her bid to be re-elected, the Premier is presenting an image as if she cares and wants to be fair. The Fair Hydro Plan is joined by the Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan, and the Fair Housing Plan. And, as Official Opposition, if we refuse to support her fair plan we are – you guessed it – unfair.

Talk to parents of children with autism and they will confirm there’s nothing fair about this government and the promises they made prior to the last election. Back in June, after cutting essential, transformational therapy for children with autism, the government decided to once again promise to fix the very mess they had allowed to continue. Sadly, while government plays politics, too many families remain concerned about how to get the supports they need.

Let’s look at the proposed $15 minimum wage. The trick here is the idea the government is aiming at the voter who uses emotion to vote, rather than facts.

For small businesses and farmers, increases in expenses must come from somewhere, and the small businesses I speak to, say they simply don’t have the profit margins to absorb such a dramatic increase in such a short time. The Government plan to rush it through is reckless. According to an Ontario Chamber of Commerce Report, Bill 148’s increases to the minimum wage will result in 185,000 lost jobs and will drive up prices from everything from groceries to childcare. It’s too fast, too soon.

As a member of the Finance Committee, we introduced amendments to require a cost-benefit analysis before the bill comes into force. If the Official Opposition is successful during the next election we won’t repeat the mistake of the Government by changing the law related to the minimum wage without a cost-benefit analysis or a proper economic impact assessment.

Recent Ontario government tricks go far beyond the mere soaping of windows at Halloween – they can make life miserable and unfair for years to come.