By MPP Toby Barrett
“meet the new boss, same as the old boss” – Pete Townsend
As Lieutenant Governor David Onley closed the book on the Throne Speech, it was clear that while some faces may have changed, the song remains the same for a government bent on overspending and underdelivering to the people of Ontario.
Truly a case of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’, the Throne Speech continued the McGuinty legacy – as Ms. Wynne had promised – of ignoring the biggest jobs and debt crisis of our lifetime.
When the new Premier says she wants to build on Mr. McGuinty’s legacy, I question how she could fail to recognize the scandal-plagued cornerstones that legacy is built upon. From e-health, to Caledonia, Ornge and natural gas plant cancellations, the McGuinty-Wynne legacy is a tale of injustice and mismanagement that has cost Ontario taxpayers billions.
Premier Wynne’s first act was to increase cabinet by 25 per cent, adding $3 million more to our debt. That follows deliberate choices to: hand the chequebook over to union bosses at the expense of students and parents; continue the expensive Feed-In Tariff Program; and park the Drummond Commission’s 362 recommendations permanently on the shelf.
We saw no initiatives to reduce the size and cost of government – and the Wynne government is backing away from any concept of a wage freeze.
Instead of restraint we continue to have a government spending more – doubling our debt over the past nine years – while we’re getting less. In education alone, the government has increased spending by $8.5 billion per year while science and math scores – as well as student numbers – have actually gone downhill. In health care where we spend 40 cents of every dollar, we watched government waste $2 billion in the e-health scandal. On the energy file we’ve seen $1.3 billion wasted on the politically motivated cancellation of two gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga to save government seats.
Over the past decade, Ontario lost 300,000 good jobs in the manufacturing sector, but at the same time we saw 300,000 more added to an already-bloated government payroll. Last month alone we lost 48,000 jobs in the private sector in the province of Ontario. That’s the greatest number of job losses since the recession. Meantime, we added an additional 9,000 jobs in the public sector. Fewer people are working outside the government paying for more people working inside the government with higher wages, benefits and pensions than those who are paying the taxes.
We see reports from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business indicating public sector workers earn 27 per cent more in wages, pensions and benefits than their counterparts in the private sector. It’s not fair, it’s not equitable and it’s certainly not affordable.
While the politically easy thing to do may have been to let the Throne Speech pass – as those in the third party have chosen to do – we have a responsibility to demand a plan that brings about a major change in direction.
We need a new approach, and it starts with having only as much government as we can afford.