Smoke and mirrors: response to 2017 Ontario Budget

GPO leader Mike Schreiner made the following statement on the 2017 provincial budget:

“The 2017 Ontario budget is about politics, not policy that works for people.

It’s a smoke and mirrors budget that benefits Bay Street bankers more than the people and communities our government is elected to represent.

Interest on debt is still the largest growing expenditure in the Liberal’s budget — higher than health care, education or social services. Sadly the government uses cap and trade revenue and asset sales to balance the budget.

On Hydro, the Liberals’ are proposing an expensive band-aid that costs $2.5 billion per year and benefits the wealthy the most.

On our environment, this budget continues to give away our natural resources. These resources should benefit all of Ontario. Yet despite higher-than-expected economic growth, royalty payments for our precious natural resources actually go down. Again, corporations are put ahead of people.

On transit, this budget fails to help people get around. Although Greens support the government’s plan to offer a transit tax credit for seniors, it should be available for all citizens. We are deeply disappointed that the government has not used better economic times to restore operational funding for transit.

Additionally, the government continues to ignore cycling and walking in the transportation budget. We call on the government to dedicate 2% of the transportation budget to walking and cycling infrastructure. Our roads should be safe for all users.

Although the GPO applauds the Liberals for finally acting on our call for a Basic Income Guarantee, we urge them to also increase the rates for people receiving ODSP and Ontario Works to levels that reflect the cost of living in Ontario now.

Ultimately, the budget fails to deliver honest solutions for people.

A fair plan would be honest with people about how to pay for transit and other infrastructure. Tax dollars should be spent on public services and infrastructure, not interest payments to banks.

The people of Ontario deserve better.

The Green Party is committed to honesty, integrity and making decisions that work for people.”