KENORA – LEADERS LEDGER – I would like to start off this week by thanking the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who submitted feedback on the provincial budget, whether by returning my Riding Report survey, sending letters and emails, or by taking part in the Ontario NDP Caucus’ survey.
While I am fully aware that we need to reduce spending, economic recovery does not happen in a vacuum. We need a strategy to create jobs and promote consumer confidence and, unfortunately, the provincial budget as it currently stands fails to do that.
That is why we, in the NDP caucus, have outlined three proposals that will improve the budget by providing financial relief for seniors and hard working families, while offering assistance to businesses across the province to create and sustain good paying jobs.
Our most recent proposal offers some simple solutions to our jobs crisis. In it, we’ve asked the government to reverse its decision to close Tourist Information Centres across the province and asked it to take concrete steps to support the development of mining jobs in the Ring of Fire. By committing funds, we can help industry build the corridors needed to develop mines in the region.
We believe the province needs to support First Nations to develop their land-use plans, which will provide clarity for mining companies interested in pursuing development in the region – something companies have been asking for. Now, more than ever, we have to stand up to keep jobs in our region. It is shameful for governments at both levels to be content with ‘giving away’ our raw resources. We need to insist that the resources that are extracted here, are processed here. We’ve included this in our jobs proposal, along with calling for the establishment of a job-creation tax credit, which would provide companies with real incentives to create jobs across the province.
For northern families, we are asking the government to respect the wishes of the people of this province and immediately remove the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) from home heating costs.
Finally, we have asked for greater tax fairness in the province by asking the government for a modest income tax increase of two per cent for those earning more than half a million dollars annually. This slight increase would provide significant revenue for the province to finance all of our proposals.
The point of these proposals is not to draw lines in the sand, but to start a discussion with the governing Liberals about ways we can make the budget – and life- better. I have not yet determined if I will vote for or against the budget. That decision will be made once I see what we are able to negotiate.
There’s no doubt that we’re facing financial challenges, but we need to reconcile the belt-tightening with measures that will protect our most vulnerable and which will create the jobs needed to truly stimulate the economy and put people back to work.
Sarah Campbell MPP