If the last few years are any guide, the next Ontario budget will arrive on March 24 or so. While spring seems far away in the middle of winter, it’s not. Budget planning is happening right now.
This month, the finance committee at Queen’s Park will start holding hearings to let citizens have their say on the budget. Hearings will be take place in London, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Timmins and Ottawa the week of Jan. 24; they continue in Toronto on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
Any government budget is a political document dressed up as a financial statement – especially in an election year. This year’s Budget will come out barely six months before we head to the polls on Oct. 6. It will set the stage for what is sure to be a tough, tough campaign.
The last two budgets mapped out the McGuinty government’s agenda. Its core strategy? Tax cuts to corporations and “austerity” for public services and the people who provide them.
Last year, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s wage freeze policy was a sucker punch for hundreds of thousands of us. We had no prior warning. Nor did the poorest Ontarians, who were hit by a cut in the real social assistance rate. The 2010 budget gave us little to look forward to but seven years of restraint.
This year, I’ll be making a presentation to the budget committee on behalf of 125,000 OPSEU members. I’ll be making the case for fair treatment for workers and quality public services for all Ontarians. I’ll be arguing for a deficit reduction strategy based on growing the economy from the bottom up, not no-strings-attached donations to corporations.
I’d like your input. Please send me your ideas, your feelings, and your personal stories at email@example.com.
This year is a big year for all of us, and Budget Day is a big day. I look forward to hearing from you.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Ontario Public Service Employees Union
P.S. You can also make your own presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on behalf of your OPSEU local, your sector, or yourself personally. To schedule an appearance, get in touch with the Clerk of the committee by 5:00 p.m. on Jan. 17. Contact Sylwia Przezdziecki, Clerk, follows:
By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
By fax: (416) 325-3505
By mail: Room 1405, Whitney Block, Queen's Park, Toronto, ON, M7A 1A2
If you’d rather submit your comments in writing, the deadline is Feb. 1.