TORONTO – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has called on the Wynne government to take two simple steps that would raise $50 billion for public services and public infrastructure over the next 10 years.
“The guiding principle of the 2015 Ontario budget is cannibalism,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas told a legislative committee examining the Liberal budget bill at Queen’s Park today. “The budget says we can only afford public infrastructure if we cut services and sell assets.
“This is not progress,” he said. “This is eating your own flesh to fill your stomach.”
Thomas called on the Liberals to restore provincial corporate income tax rates to 2009 levels and stop using “public-private partnerships” (P3s) to build major infrastructure projects. The former would raise $23 billion in 10 years and the latter would raise $29 billion, he said.
“Last December, the Auditor General told us that the citizens of Ontario paid more than 28 per cent too much by using P3s instead of traditional public sector procurement to build infrastructure,” Thomas said. “With the government planning to spend $130 billion on infrastructure over the next 10 years, the savings from not using P3s would be enormous.”
The OPSEU plan would also spend $2 billion over 10 years to strengthen the capacity of Infrastructure Ontario to oversee infrastructure projects.
“Based on statements by the Premier, our capacity to oversee projects is much weaker than it was when the Liberals came to power,” Thomas said. “We need to restore it.”
Ontario’s budget woes have nothing to do with public spending and everything to do with revenues lost to tax cuts over the last 20 years, he said.
“If this government has a deficit, it’s not because of spending,” he said. “Under the Wynne Liberals, Ontario has the lowest program spending per capita of any province in Canada. They are starving public services in this province.”