The McGuinty Government looks like it is going to live to fight another day

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Dalton McGuintyQUEEN’S PARK – The McGuinty Government looks like it is going to live to fight another day. Tomorrow’s vote on the budget will be supported by the New Democrats. The Ontario Progressive Conservatives will vote against the budget. The only party calling down the Premier over breaking another promise on taxes is Tim Hudak, but he is not hitting all that hard on the Premier.

New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath says she and her Caucus will not force an election over tomorrow’s Budget and plan to keep working inside the Legislature to get results for everyday people. “We’re showing the people of this province that we’re willing to make minority government work but we’re also showing them the sort of Ontario we want to build,” said Horwath. “Today we’ve made some progress.”

Horwath says “The NDP brought positive changes to the Budget like a new tax on high income earners and new funding that will save childcare spaces protect healthcare and stabilize industries like horse racing. She also claims credit for stopping further corporate tax cuts and winning support for policies like a Job Creator Tax Credit”.

The NDP fought for a 1% increase in welfare payments, which should total about $10 more a month for a family on social assistance in Ontario.

Horwath states, “The failure to provide any relief from the unfair HST will make life less affordable. The short-sighted plan to privatize Ontario Northland and to close tourism centres will hurt the North and Northerners who have been forgotten by the government time and time again. Instead of working with allies in the public sector the government has decided to embrace Mike Harris tactics of confrontation that just don’t work,” said Horwath. “This is not the Budget I would have introduced as Premier, but I feel we serve people better by getting to work here in the Legislature than by chasing votes in an election.”

Tim Hudak commented, “I would like to say I am surprised by this deal but I’m not. What I am concerned about is the direction of Ontario”.

The deal between Horwath and McGuinty was put together in a closed door meeting in the Premier’s office in Queen’s Park.

“The choice made by the Premier today leads us further down the same failed path we have been on for the last eight years,” charged Hudak. “This is the path of more spending, more taxing, and no plan to create a better climate for private sector jobs. It tinkers with small change when what we need is big change”.

Hudak says that the PCs would take a different direction than the McGuinty/Horwath coalition. “We believe in a very different approach. One that requires urgent action on two parallel tracks. We need to reduce the size and cost of government and kick start growth and job creation in the private sector. These are the priorities I presented to the Premier months ago and have raised in the Legislature and across Ontario daily. This budget does not address these priorities”.

From the Ontario Liberals, “Premier Dalton McGuinty met with NDP leader Andrea Horwath and reached an agreement that would make the Budget better while accelerating our plan to reduce the deficit”.

“Here’s what you need to know:

  • Wealthy Ontarians who make more than half a million dollars a year would be asked to pay a two percentage point NDP surtax;
  • All of the new revenue generated would go directly toward deficit reduction so that we can grow the economy, create jobs and support better schools and health care for all of us;
  •  The NDP surtax would be effective July 1, 2012 and will be eliminated when we balance the budget in five years.

The Budget will include a $20-million transition fund to help Northern and rural hospitals become more efficient for patients. Funding for this would come from savings now built into the Budget. It will also include a one per cent increase to Ontario Works rates. This adds to other improvements to the Budget, which include:

  • More funding for child care — which will come from within the Ministry of Education’s existing budget — to help families get a seamless transition to full-day kindergarten;
  • Further reducing the price the government pays for the most popular generic drugs;
  • Raising funding for the Ontario Disability Support Program by one per cent;
  • Merging the Independent Electricity Systems Operator and the Ontario Power Authority, saving ratepayers $25 million a year;
  • Proposing an extension to the base pay freeze for executives at Ontario’s hospitals, colleges, universities, and school boards for another two years.”
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