TORONTO – Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas accused the Wynne Liberals of letting Bay Street dictate the provincial budget.
At a press conference at Queen’s Park Tuesday, Thomas said the province’s economic plans call for continued prosperity for well-connected corporate lawyers, bankers and big construction companies and ongoing austerity for everyone else.
“Not since William Lyon Mackenzie railed against the ‘Family Compact’ have we seen Ontario ruled by such a close-knit clique as we see today,” he said. “Today, as in the 1830s, economic power and political power have become so intertwined that you can’t tell them apart.”
Thomas released a booklet, They Build on Great Relationships: It’s in their DNA, spelling out the close links between current and former Liberal politicians and advisors and the business interests who both donate generously to the Liberal party and benefit from government largesse.
“The government’s enthusiastic embrace of the recommendations last week from the Ed Clark panel makes it clear that the government of Ontario is taking its marching orders directly from the corporate sector,” Thomas said.
“The same people are trying to tell us that more privatization will solve the problems that privatization created. It’s a process that is good for Bay Street but bad for Ontario.
Privatization has caused a lot of the government’s financial problems. The Auditor General said that building infrastructure through P3 contracts cost Ontario taxpayers $8 billion more than traditional government financing. “That’s more than $600 for every man, woman and
babe in arms in Ontario that has gone to date to the corporations with the right Liberal DNA and their friends,” Thomas said.
The government is still planning to cut real program spending by more than the rate of inflation for another three years.
“This is absolutely outrageous. Liberal austerity does not just hit public employees; it also hits the public services they provide. For example, for three years hospitals have had close to zero increase in funding, so they have not been able to deal with the costs of inflation, an aging population or population growth. We are falling behind, and fast,” he said.
“Ed Clark, we know from news reports, told Kathleen Wynne she could either keep going deeper in debt to build infrastructure or she could sell assets. What he should have said was, ‘Corporate profits in this country are at record levels. Now is the time to raise taxes on corporations, at least back to the level they were at in 2010, to give yourself some breathing space. And you have a lot of leeway to raise them even higher on financial institutions.’
“He didn’t say that. She didn’t say that,” he said. “Instead, Bay Street is dictating what happens to billions of dollars in public assets. She doesn’t have that mandate.”