PC Finance Critic Peter Shurman – “This budget just kicks the can down the road”

Canadian MoneyQUEEN’S PARK – “This budget just kicks the can down the road. It’s about as ‘austere’ as the Pink Palace it came from,” charges Ontario PC Finance Critic Peter Shurman. The PC critic laid out the PC party’s case to debunk the idea that the March 27 Liberal budget was anything resembling “an austerity exercise”.

“Numbers are numbers but budgets are politics,” said Shurman. “And this very political budget – that keeps us on the reckless path to a $30 billion deficit – has begun to unravel after just two days’ scrutiny.”

In a detailed presentation at Queen’s Park, Shurman revealed the following features of Dalton McGuinty’s so-called “tough budget” – among other findings that discredit all claims to budgetary restraint:

  • The 2012 budget does not reduce spending or the debt: the 2012 deficit remains unchanged at $15 billion, and actually increased between 2010 and 2011;
  • Despite receiving $3.3 billion in federal equalization payments, the budget deficit is three times the size of other province’s deficits combined.

“The Liberals’ claim that they will enact “cuts” of $17.7 billion from the budget in the next three years is unsupportable. The budget will only slow the rate of spending increases over that time, compared to their trajectory over the past eight years. Spending just goes up more slowly – by $3.4 billion”.

“Beyond 2015, the budget provides no data to support reductions in spending required to balance the budget in 2017”, states Shurman.

There is nothing in the 2012 budget to freeze public sector wages. This highly unlikely “wage freeze legislation” would be a separate bill. Nothing changes on this front the day the budget would be passed;

Even the language from the budget document on the public sector wage issue was simply cut-and-pasted from the failed 2010 version:

  • Budget 2012: “The fiscal plan provides no funding for incremental compensation increases (p. 70)
  • Budget 2010: “The fiscal plan provides no funding for incremental compensation increases (p. 45)

“Nor is there any structural change to the way government operates,” Shurman said.