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Not about transit: Ontario budget robs people to fund corporate profits, OPSEU says


TORONTO – Budget day in Ontario was great for the privatization industry but “an unmitigated disaster” for everyone else in the province, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

“This budget is not about building transit,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today. “This budget is about taking money out of hospitals, colleges, and other services we all depend on and filtering it through bankers, corporate lawyers, construction bosses, and grocery chains who will gladly repay the favour with donations to the Ontario Liberal Party.”

Today’s 2015 budget from Finance Minister Charles Sousa contained little that hadn’t been leaked over the last several weeks, Thomas said.

“There are no surprises here,” he said. “The Liberals expect all public employees to take wage cuts. They plan to lay off more frontline public employees. They plan to privatize more public services, when they already know that doing so will cost more and deliver less. They plan to sell off public assets like Hydro One and make us all pay more. They plan to use public-private partnerships to build roads and transit, and they plan to make us all pay for the privilege through cuts to frontline services.

“This budget is a betrayal of everything Ontario stands for. Liberal MPPs should hang their heads in shame.”

The budget notes that Ontario has the lowest program spending per capita of any province in Canada but proposes no measures to raise revenues, Thomas said.

“Cuts to corporate income tax rates under the Liberals have drained $9.6 billion from provincial coffers since 2010. That’s more than they’ll get from selling shares in Hydro One.”

Thomas said the Wynne government should “stop kowtowing to the suits on Bay Street” and get serious about raising revenues to rebuild the province. Restoring corporate tax rates to 2010 levels would raise over $9 billion in four years, fund public services and transit, and allow the province to maintain full ownership of Hydro One, he said.

“Kathleen Wynne ran against the austerity policies of PC leader Tim Hudak and sold herself as a ‘progressive’ leader,” Thomas said. “The Premier has no mandate to impose Tim Hudak’s policies on Ontario. The more Ontarians understand what the Liberals are doing, the angrier they will be.”