Ontario fall economic statement panned by MPP Mantha

ONTARIO – While the Ontario government fall economic statement includes a reduction in the province’s deficit and a cut to the small business tax, it is basically more of the same, says Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha.

“Unfortunately, we really see nothing new with the fall economic statement,” said Mr. Mantha. “We see this government doubling down on cuts to nurses, teachers, education workers and jobs being lost. We see a government that cut funding to the Indigenous Affairs ministry by 50 percent in April and again in this statement. They continue to wage war on the environment; there is no end to hallway medicine.” 

“And, using an example on Manitoulin Island, the government has made cuts to Ontario Northland and busing services that had been provided are ceasing,” said Mr. Mantha. 

“Overall, there is nothing new in this fall economic statement; in fact, things have been made from bad to worse,” said Mr. Mantha. “We have a government that promised to bring down the cost of hydro and instead we see increases of 12 percent, and the government claims 270,000 new jobs in the province have been created, but they are not talking about the ones that had already been lost.”

The Ford government says that due to strong job growth and corporate profits, the 2019-2020 deficit has fallen from $10.3 billion to $9 billion. Health care, education, children’s and social services and transit will see an increase in their budget this year, however, nearly every other ministry will continue to face cuts. For example, Northern Affairs, Energy and Mines saw a $300 million cut for this fiscal year; Municipal Affairs and Housing is looking at a cut of $360 million, along with $70 million form Government and Consumer Services and $50 million from Heritage, Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Starting January 1, 2020, Finance Minister Rod Phillips is cutting the small business tax rate from 3.5 percent to 3.2 percent on the first $500,000 of income. 

While they still plan to battle the federal government on the carbon tax, the Ford government plans to conduct a “province-wide climate change impact assessment” sometime in the new year. It plans to hire outside experts to assess how climate change, “will affect Ontario’s economy, infrastructure, communities, public health and safety, as well as ecosystems.”

Mr. Phillips released the ‘2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: A Plan to Build Ontario Together’ on November 6 which maintains the government’s commitment to balance the budget by 2023-24 through prudent fiscal management while making strategic investments in critical public services, and strengthening the conditions for job creation.

“The previous administration not only left the province with the largest subnational debt in the world, but also some daunting challenges including hallway health care, transit and roads that are heavily congested and government services that are inefficient and outdated,” said Mr. Phillips.

“Since taking office 16 months ago, our government has taken steps to strengthen our finances, our economy and critical public services,” he said. “Solving these challenges has not been about grand gestures, but rather the practical and meaningful actions that help make life easier and more affordable for people, like reducing taxes, investing in health care and education, and building modern transit and roads.”

The government’s plan is balanced and prudent. While making steady progress to reduce the deficit, it is investing an additional $1.3 billion in critical services, continued Mr. Phillips. This includes more funding for small- and medium-sized hospitals, public health units, child care and programs to help our most vulnerable.

“At the same time, the government is creating a climate to support and attract business investment and job creation across the province. In the 2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review the government is proposing to reduce the small business corporate income tax rate to 3.2 percent from 3.54 percent beginning on January 1, 2020. This would provide tax relief of up to $1,500 annually to over 275,000 businesses, from family-owned shops to innovative start-ups,” continued Mr. Phillips.

As a result of government actions to date, Ontario’s small businesses would save $2.3 billion in 2020, said Mr. Phillips. He added, “we believe the role of government is to enable the opportunity for a better quality of life and a higher standard of living for all of our citizens. By implementing our plan we are stimulating job creation, putting more money in people’s pockets, making our streets safer, our commutes shorter and our government smarter.”

“Delaying, backtracking or softening $1.3 billion in cuts is not new spending,” said official opposition leader Andrea Horwath.

“Doug Ford had an opportunity to listen to Ontarians who have protested his deep and painful cuts, but nothing in this statement shows he’s heard their concerns. Instead of fixing the hallway medicine crisis, he’s holding the line, even while parents cradle crying children during long waits in crowded emergency rooms, and patients line the hallways of hospitals on gurneys. Instead of scrapping his scheme to fire 10,000 teachers and thousands of education workers, he’s plowing ahead with the cuts in schools. Meanwhile, students say they can’t get enough courses into their timetables to graduate this year as a result of the cuts, and schools are plagued by leaky roofs and lead-tainted water foundations.”
“After a year of attacking the environment, Premier Ford has taken another $25 million out of Environment, Conservation and Parks. There’s barely any mention at all of the climate crisis in this document. After cutting the Indigenous Affairs budget in half, he’s dragging reconciliation even further backward by cutting $2.2 million more out of the ministry. And after spending a year decimating legal aid services, he’s taking another $330 million out of the Justice Ministry,” said Ms. Horwath. 

“At a time when the impact of the climate crisis is bringing more forest fires, more flooding, more extreme weather and more damage to homes and communities, Doug Ford is papering over the need to take action with peeling gas pump stickers,” said Ms. Horwath. “Everything is at risk—especially for our children and grandchildren—and Doug Ford is pouring gasoline on the fire instead of water.”