Fire Sale Budget Short Changes Ontario’s Future

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 (Queen’s Park): GPO leader Mike Schreiner is opposed to the Liberal government’s plans to liquidate valuable public assets and natural resources. Schreiner says the Green Party will continue pushing the Liberals to reverse plans to privatize Hydro One and to increase resource royalties. 
 
“This is a fire sale budget by a desperate government,” says Schreiner. “Liquidating Hydro One and selling natural resources at rock bottom prices is shortchanging your pocketbook. We need sustainable revenue for transit, not a magic money tree that will provide a short-term shot of cash that will deprive future governments of reliable revenue.”
 
Selling Hydro One will deprive the province of annual dividends—$287 million last year alone—forever. Losing control of Ontario’s transmission grid will drive up electricity prices and decrease the province’s ability to implement smart grid solutions to save energy and save money.
 
“We can’t lose a valuable public asset because the Liberals have failed to manage our finances responsibly,” says GPO Finance critic Kevin Labonte. “With the NDP and PC parties demonizing any new sources of revenue for transit, the government is desperate.”
 
The Green Party supports the government’s investments in transit infrastructure but are critical of the Liberal’s failure to restore operating funds for transit. Unlike the three status quo parties, Greens have the courage to support the revenue tools recommended by the government’s expert panels. Sadly, the Liberals have ignored these recommendations in the face of opposition, especially from the NDP.
 
The GPO is deeply concerned that the fastest growing expenditure in the Liberal budget is interest on debt. The government’s failure to maximize the value of Ontario’s natural resources is especially irresponsible given their record deficits. The GPO supports the Drummond Report’s recommendations to increase resource revenue and move towards full cost recovery and user-pay models for environmental programs and services.
 
“It’s irresponsible for the Liberals to continue the fire sale of Ontario’s natural resources, especially when the province’s finances are a mess,” says Schreiner. “The people of Ontario deserve their fair share of the province’s resource wealth.”
 
The GPO is discouraged that the Liberals continue to make cuts to classroom education without exploring savings from merging the public and Catholic school boards. 
 
“Instead of cuts to classrooms, Greens want to invest more in our children’s education to improve our public schools,” says Schreiner. “It’s time to put our kids first.”
 
“The budget is called Building Ontario Up—the Liberals are building up a house of cards with short-term decisions to liquidate assets and to protect vested interests instead of exploring new ways of saving money and raising revenue,” says Labonte.
 
The GPO is on a mission to bring honesty, integrity and good public policy to Queen’s Park.
 
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