TORONTO — Ontario's first budget with Kathleen Wynne as Premier is a disappointing continuation of the Dalton McGuinty legacy, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.
"Leaked news reports about today's budget suggested Ontarians could expect significant improvements to desperately needed public services and youth job programs," said Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "What they did not say was that these improvements would be funded entirely by cuts to other public services already weakened by five years of austerity.
"This budget is a missed opportunity to restore tax fairness in Ontario and make corporations part of the solution, not only to the deficit, but to the underfunding of public services and the shortage of decent work," he said. "We've got too many Ontarians taking wage cuts while too many more are either unemployed or underemployed at part-time, temporary, insecure jobs.
"Meanwhile, profitable corporations are not only refusing to invest, they're demanding the opportunity to extract a profit from public services Ontarians currently receive at cost."
Overall program spending is projected to increase by just one per cent on average in each of the next five years, the Budget says. That means a real cut to public services and jobs of at least two per cent a year, or more than 10 per cent over five years after inflation and population growth are factored in, Thomas said.
Ontario's total corporate income tax rates are now barely two-thirds of the U.S. average, while Ontario program spending per capita remains the lowest in Canada.
"If this government truly believes in fairness, as it claims, then the province's corporations have to be involved," Thomas said. "My members are not keen on taking pay cuts they can't afford while Bay Street banks are still getting tax cuts they don't need."
Thomas reserved his praise for the Liberal government's commitment to reduce auto insurance rates, a move which he said would represent an actual saving to working people.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas (613) 329-1931