TORONTO—Four years after the McGuinty Liberals have been in office, Ontario is still living under the shadow of the Mike Harris/Ernie Eves government, says the 2007 Ontario Alternative Budget (OAB).
The alternative budget, released today by the OAB Working Group of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, assesses McGuinty government’s first term in office and finds little progress has been made to address growing income inequality and persistent poverty.
“Since it was elected, the McGuinty government has been trying to govern as if the damage done to public services in Ontario by its predecessors had never happened,” says OAB Co-chair and CCPA Research Associate Hugh Mackenzie.“As if social assistance benefits hadn’t dropped by more than 40%, after inflation is taken into account, since 1995. As if student tuition for postsecondary education hadn’t more-than-doubled. As if Ontario’s the shortage of affordable housing wasn’t a problem. As if Ontario hadn’t lost billions of dollars in fiscal capacity due to tax cuts we can’t afford.”
The OAB finds:
- as of September 2007, tuition fees will be higher than they would have been if the Harris-Eves policy of increasing tuition fees in step with inflation had remained in place;
- spending on affordable housing is half of what it was in 2000; and
- those on social assistance are receiving less in provincial benefits after inflation than they were when the McGuinty government was elected.
This year’s OAB sets out a four-year plan to rebuild Ontario’s public services and renew the fiscal capacity necessary to pay for them. It provides increased financial support for those in poverty, it fixes the funding formula for elementary and secondary education, it gets Ontario back in the affordable housing business, it funds a real new deal for cities, and it commits real resources to environmental stewardship and energy conservation.
“If there is one word to describe the way people feel about the McGuinty government, it is disappointment”, said OAB co-chair Andrea Calver. “People expected them to take action to rebuild services damaged by years of senseless cuts – cuts that the Liberals opposed while in opposition. That hasn’t happened yet.”
The Ontario Alternative Budget is a project of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, prepared by a working group drawn from labour, social action, community, and faith groups, and has prepared alternative budgets and analysis annually since 1997.
Ontario Alternative Budget 2007: No Time to Lose—An Action Blueprint for Ontario is available on the CCPA web site: http://www.policyalternatives.ca
For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.