More of the same in this year’s budget

Publication Date

Friday, April 28, 2017 - 3:15pm

Dear friends,

We’ve seen this movie before – the Ontario provincial budget was accompanied by all kinds of noise and celebration – A balanced budget! No tax hikes! Money for health, child care and education!

What a great, progressive budget, right?

Wrong!

After ten years, we get nothing for our suffering, just more phony progressive rhetoric from a government that talks from the left, but governs from the right. I am profoundly disappointed.

This budget is just more Liberal smoke and mirrors – for example, the “big increase” in health care spending amounts to about 3 per cent only covers the cost of inflation and the increase in Ontario’s population. It’s nothing like what we need – both the independent Financial Accountability Officer and the Ontario Hospital Association have said an increase of five per cent in the health care budget would be needed, just to maintain current service levels.

So after years of starving the system, the Liberals will preside over a further decline in the quality of our health care. It’s a disgrace.

And the free prescription drugs for those under 25? It looks a lot like a scheme thrown together quickly after the NDP unveiled its Pharmacare program, promising free prescription drugs for all Ontario residents, just a few days earlier. The Liberals would cut off young people struggling to make ends meet just as they are starting out in their work life, when last thing they would need would be another bill. Let’s call it Pharmacare Lite.

This budget, and the pre-election style funding announcements that preceded it, were just an illusion. It’s basically what we saw in the lead-up to the 2014 budget: retail politics with no substance.

Let’s face it - the Liberals want to balance the budget, because they think that will be popular. But there is nothing innovative or promising on the revenue side to pay for their promises. And we know you will pay for it – we will.

There’s no doubt increases in program funding in education, health care and social assistance are desperately needed – even if they’re long overdue and not nearly enough - but let’s face it, this “balanced” budget with no new taxes is aimed squarely at voters, (and they’ll spend the next year reminding us they’ve kept this campaign promise).

The Liberals are counting on us thinking that all sounds great, but I don’t see the substance. This government wants to sound progressive, but this is not a progressive budget that will help move Ontario forward. We need to raise our voices, work together, and join with all progressive forces across Ontario, to get the message out that this budget is bad for public services, bad for communities, and does nothing to build up Ontario.

Clearly, there’s a lot more to this budget than meets the eye; it’s a budget that reeks of favouritism and jockeying for votes, and it offers nothing to improve the day-to-day lives of Ontarians. The only new thing about this budget is that any glimmer of hope that we could expect change has been extinguished. It’s time for the Liberals to go.

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