Ontario Budget 2013: Digging a deeper hole:
- M E D I A R E L E A S E -
The May 2 Ontario Budget represents Kathleen Wynne's first budget as Premier, but will it be her last?
That's the $127.6 billion question. Will this budget be enough to placate the NDP and get their support to avert a late spring election? That is the central question around this budget.
At first blush it appears that virtually all of the pre-budget demands of the NDP have been fulfilled in this document, effectively making it an NDP budget, so their support seems assured. We will know soon enough if they have been appeased.
Several times in the 314 page Budget document and speech delivered by rookie Finance Minister Charles Sousa, he stresses how important it is to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18 saying that the “government believes eliminating the deficit is the single most important step we can take to grow the economy and create jobs.”
If he actually believes that, one might expect that faster action would be called for including the full implementation of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Service, the Drummond Report. Alas barely 50% of the recommendations in that report have been implemented; and this Budget if passed may make it 60%. But many of the most cost effective recommendations involve shrinking or not growing the public service. These have already been dismissed. Almost 55 cents of every dollar the Ontario government spends is on the salaries, benefits and pensions of government employees.
This Budget actually grows the Ontario government; the deficit will be larger than last year. Debt continues to grow and accumulate; the cost of debt service keeps rising even as matured bonds roll over into the new lower interest rate environment, not a good sign. What will happen when interest rates actually rise, as they must, eventually? That rise will be coincident with more stresses on health services as the boomers age, and greater pension obligations as boomers retire. Balancing the budget in four more years seems hopeless, and lets not forget the debt, which will continue to grow. Every child born today comes equipped with more than $21, 000 in Ontario government debt. Ten years ago that number was $11,000, what will it be in four years?
Nothing in this Budget demonstrates that Premier Wynne has reversed the spendthrift ways of Dalton McGuinty; we just have a partial pause. Once present wage freezes have melted away in another year or so, the public sector unions will clamor for catch-up. Now is the time to address the primary problem of this government. Ontario Libertarians would first halt the continued growth of the government at present levels, no new spending, and no increases to salary, benefits or bonuses for any government employees. Ministries and agencies would be directed to find real cost saving measures immediately. Some ministries and agencies would be amalgamated with others, or have their responsibilities shifted to the free market in an orderly fashion. All corporate handouts would be stopped. The immediate goal would be to reduce government spending so that it falls well below the level of revenues.
Anything resembling that would have been a courageous start, which would certainly have led to a spring election.
The Ontario Libertarian Party has been a registered political party since 1975. We advocate free markets, property rights, limited government, and voluntary interactions within communities between individuals and groups. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org