Today's budget update from Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa revealed an increasingly unequal province where corporate profits are soaring as personal incomes falter, the head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said today.
"The Economic Outlook shows revenues from corporate profits up more than $750 million from the government's best guess six months ago," OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. "Meanwhile, revenues from personal income tax, the HST, and the Ontario Health Premium are down by over $1 billion. This tells us one thing: we are witnessing a rapid transfer of income from working peoples' wages to corporate profits."
Thomas said the next provincial budget must focus on reducing income inequality by restoring corporate tax rates to 2009 levels, resuscitating public services, and increasing the minimum wage.
"The key to prosperity in Ontario is more fairness," he said. "Right now corporations are sitting on $500 billion in cash that they are not investing because their customers — regular Ontarians — are all broke. Shift some of that money from the top down and you'll see a dramatic improvement in economic growth."
Thomas said OPSEU, which represents 130,000 Ontario workers, will call on the government to take the following measures in the 2014 budget:
increase the corporate income tax rate to its 2009 level of 14 per cent instead of the current 11.5;
reinvest the proceeds in public services, particularly those that serve the most vulnerable and lowest-income Ontarians; and
increase the minimum wage to $14 an hour — 10 per cent above the poverty line — as soon as possible.
"Putting money into public services and wages puts money directly back into the economy and reduces inequality at the same time," Thomas said. "When people have income, they can pay taxes, and that's how you fund public services and balance the books.
"If this government truly wants 'a prosperous and fair Ontario', as it said in the 2013 budget, it will take our advice."
Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931 (cell)