If there’s anything obvious about this month’s throne speech at Queen’s Park, it’s this: Ontarians love their public services.
For the first time in a long time, Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberals appeared to recognize this. In the throne speech, they said they were changing course. They didn’t exactly apologize for their bad decisions to date, but they did say they would pay better attention to the concerns of regular folk.
So they announced new spending.
They said they’d make Hydro more affordable by taking the HST off customers’ bills.
They said they’d create thousands of new child care spaces.
They said they’d help kids get better at math.
That’s all good, as far as it goes. But something doesn’t add up.
The fact is, this new spending is happening at a time when the government is cutting spending overall. This year, the Liberals say their budget deficit will come in at $4.3 billion, and they still plan to wipe it out entirely by next year. The new spending they announced on September 12 – a billion a year to cut Hydro bills, nearly as much for the child care plan – will be added on to next year’s deficit. So where’s that money – let’s call it $6 billion – going to come from?
Some commentators say the Liberals will find ways to raise taxes. Others say they’ll just borrow the money.
Both are wrong. What the Liberals will do is what they’ve been doing for six years: cut public services.
They’ll cut Hydro bills and pay for new public services by cutting existing services – and the jobs and wages of the people who deliver them.
When it comes to public services, Ontario already has the lowest spending per person of any province in Canada. We don’t need more cuts to health care, to education, or to any of the services OPSEU members provide. What we need is a government that is committed – truly committed – to funding all our vital public services to a decent level.
Because Ontarians love their public services. It’s their government they can’t stand.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, Ontario Public Service Employees Union