TORONTO—Today’s Ontario budget will do serious damage to the public services Ontarians depend on, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Ontario office (CCPA) says.
“Cuts like these don’t make Ontario ‘a place to grow,’ they make it a place where people have to just try and survive,” says Sheila Block, CCPA Ontario Senior Economist. “This is a bad news budget.”
Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO) has estimated that program spending needs to rise by 3.5 per cent per year in order to maintain public services at current levels, given inflation and population changes. Today’s budget, which holds program spending growth to an average of 0.8 per cent a year over the next three years, therefore represents a cut of approximately 2.7 percentage points compared to current levels.
“Health care spending had to grow by 4 per cent per year to keep up with the need, and in this budget it grows by 1.6 per cent,” Block says. “School spending had to grow by 3.4 per cent to keep up with the need, and in this budget it grows by 1.1 per cent.
“These cuts in the two biggest areas government funds are very serious, but outside of health care and schools the cuts are even more damaging,” she adds. “Funding to all the other areas, including post-secondary education, social services, justice, the environment, and so on is actually shrinking by 0.2 per cent."
Tax cuts outlined in the budget, in combination with the elimination of the cap-and-trade greenhouse gas reduction program, will result in $3.3 billion a year in lost revenue over the next three years.
“Choosing to cut taxes rather than funding vital services is a choice, not a necessity,” says Block. “These program cuts could have been avoided if the government had done the sensible and humane thing and raised revenues.
“Ontario doesn’t have a spending problem—we already have the lowest per capita program spending of any province—but we do have a serious revenue problem,” she adds. “If this government is serious about fiscal responsibility and, as it claims, ‘protecting what matters most,’ we need to raise taxes.”
For more information, contact: Randy Robinson at 416-788-7003 or [email protected].