If approved, the budget outlines Premier Wynne’s proposed spending plan for the next twelve months. If defeated, the province will be faced with its second election in less than two years at a cost of nearly $100 million to the province’s taxpayers.
Following the budget’s release many pundits suggested that the few requests my caucus colleagues and I put forward were met or, in their words, ‘exceeded,’ but if you look closer there’s much more to it than first meets the eye.
Leading up to the budget, the NDP caucus prioritized issues that would benefit hard working families, while recognizing the delicate financial situation of our province. Had our suggestions been implemented as recommended, there would not have been any money added to the provincial deficit. The Liberal version, however, adds $2 billion.
For instance, despite throwing $260 million at new Home Care spending Wynne refuses to guarantee Home Care will be delivered within five days of prescription – something we carefully costed out at $30 million.
In this regard, Wynne appears to be throwing money at a problem in hopes that it will go away, something Dalton McGuinty was famous for. I believe there needs to be respect for each and every dollar spent by government. When governments spend money it needs to be financially responsible and accountable, and there needs to be a correlation between the money spent and achieved outcomes.
Wynne appears to have met our request to reduce auto insurance premiums by 15 per cent – which would save the average family more than $200 annually – but as with Home Care, she provides no firm deadlines to implement these savings.
While some may say that we are getting too bogged down in the details, we believe that decisions that affect the hard working people of this province deserve fair consideration and that the public needs to have their say.
Voting against the budget will force an election and there is no guarantee that a province-wide vote will result in any meaningful changes to the composition of the Legislative Assembly, which could essentially waste $100 million.
Right now the polls are suggesting that it is a three-way race in Ontario. As much as people in the North might be angry with the Liberals, Wynne is highly regarded in Southern Ontario and she might well be returned with a minority, or even a majority. Worse still, Tim Hudak, leader of the PCs has shown by refusing to participate in budget discussions over the past two years that he only cares about his own political fortunes.
The situation in Ontario is complicated. There are both benefits and risks to either supporting the budget or opposing it and sending Ontarians to the polls. There is still time to make amendments to the budget to make it better. What do you think: Should I support the budget? Oppose it? Are changes needed?
I want to hear from you again: share your opinion online at YourSayOntario.ca, or send a letter or email to my office.
Sarah Campbell MPP