What we’ll do about Ontario’s have-not budget

By MPP Toby Barrett

As the Ontario Legislature debates the latest have-not budget it’s increasingly clear that Premier McGuinty will not halt the high-spending, high-taxing and high-deficiting that has all of us paying for bigger government and smaller results. It’s also clear that it will take a real change of direction – and concrete action – to dig out of this hole.

The budget debate has given myself and my colleagues in the PC Opposition an opportunity to make it clear there is another way. Opposition Leader Tim Hudak has been presenting our plans to give families relief and to re-allocate taxpayer dollars to services people care about and need, like front-line health care.

We have brought forward a number of ideas to redirect government from its current poorly thought-out experiments and wasteful spending.

We’ve proposed pulling the plug on the mandatory smart meter tax machines to give families a choice on their electricity bills. As well, Hudak continues to call for a forensic audit of the debt retirement charge on electricity that should have been paid off by now. We will also shut down the needless Ontario Power Authority bureaucracy that is driving up the cost of electricity.

As part of our goal to end wasteful spending, the budget debate has allowed us to expand on plans to close the doors on regional health bureaucracies – the LHINs – and put every penny into front-line health care.

Last week, Tim Hudak introduced and debated legislation to initiate a ‘sunset review’ process, through an all-party committee, of all 600-plus agencies, boards and commissions to root out wasteful spending.

And that’s just getting things started. In recent months we have also made clear our plans to deal with a series of concerns that are siphoning and wasting tax dollars.

We will provide clear and tight timeframes that will ensure public sector agreements reflect the ability of families to pay by bringing more transparency and accountability to the arbitration system
We will take on the unfair distribution of gasoline taxes, building on my attempts to establish a mechanism to ensure rural municipalities receive the full benefit of gas tax transit initiatives. Roads and bridges are our form of public transit in rural Ontario – we pay the taxes at the pump, but get nothing in return.

We will end the practice of paying outrageous severances to public servants like former Deputy Health Minister Ron Sapsford receiving $762,000 the year after quitting during the e-health scandal.
And we remain the only provincial party to pledge the return of municipal decision-making power on wind towers. We will also eliminate the practice of paying out inappropriately expensive subsidies under the Green Energy Act FIT program.

And, as recently indicated, we will phase out Drive Clean on vehicle emissions.

These initiatives build on our ’10 for 2010′ campaign that included plans for: a one-year payroll tax holiday on all new hires to help young workers, a one year suspension of the land-transfer tax to help families achieve the dream of home ownership, an end to corporate welfare and the practice of picking winners and losers in the marketplace, and a cap on government spending.

These are all part of our overarching plan to put an end to the out of control, wasteful spending as exemplified in Ontario’s recent have-not budget.