For Immediate Release
March 26, 2012
Challenging the Status Quo GPO Budget Priorities face up to Ontario’s Fiscal Reality
“Ontario’s financial future is at risk, and Premier McGuinty lacks the will to make the hard, long-term decisions we need,” says GPO Finance critic Kevin O’Donnell. “He’s already passed over obvious, big ticket savings. In contrast, our budget priorities don’t shy away from the realities facing Ontarians.”
The GPO believes eliminating the deficit requires challenging the status quo in the province’s biggest budget categories: education, energy, health care, and bringing our tax system into the 21st century.
One School System: The GPO believes there is a better solution than laying off thousands of critical classroom aids and blocking students who need a fifth year to get help. The Liberal government should do the obvious — eliminate massive and costly duplication by merging the best of the Catholic and public school systems into a one French/English public system. The result benefits everyone —a high quality, financially responsible, and equitable education system.
Stop Borrowing Billions to Subsidize Wasteful Energy Consumption: Ontario cannot afford to borrow $1.2 billion to subsidize pollution and electricity bills with the misleadingly named ‘Clean Energy Benefit’. Instead, we should help lower-income families with the rising cost of living by raising the Ontario Child Benefit as planned at a much lower cost of $90 million. It makes more sense to help businesses and households save money by increasing energy efficiency — a strategy that’s cheaper, stimulates job creation and ultimately boosts government revenue. The government must not cave in to the NDP/Conservative HST Coalition that would borrow more money to subsidize pollution.
Invest in Illness Prevention: Ontario’s current “sick care” system focused predominantly on hospital treatment is unsustainable. We need to invest more in illness prevention within home and community care settings. This budget must commit at least .5% of healthcare spending to prevention, raise taxes on cigarettes and commit 2% of the transportation budget to infrastructure for human powered mobility — serving both our community health and environmental objectives.
Efficient and Fair Tax Reform: The GPO calls for the elimination of unsustainable corporate tax cuts and a commitment to forming a public commission on the reform and modernization of Ontario’s tax system. We support a tax system that generates the funds necessary for required public services while creating jobs that enrich our natural wealth and our communities.
“It’s time for politicians to stop punting problems to our kids,” says GPO leader Mike Schreiner. “Now is the time to put politics aside and tackle head on these big ticket items in order to balance the books efficiently and fairly.”