The Ontario Liberal budget is a huge disappointment for all Ontarians waiting for a progressive economic stimulus package to help them weather the recession, says Sid Ryan, the Ontario President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“Today, Ontarians were force-fed an “Alice in Wonderland”-type budget with forecasting based on overly optimistic economic projections, which will cost Ontarians dearly if McGuinty is wrong,” says Ryan.
In the fiscal year 2009, the Liberals project negative growth of 2.5 per cent of GDP, and in 2011, positive growth of 3.3 per cent of GDP. Even in a thriving economy, Ontario’s economic growth has not hit 5.8 per cent of GDP.
If you are an unemployed Ontarian, low-income earner, or a family needing child care, the budget will do nothing to help you weather the economic crisis. In fact, the Liberals are “gambling that the economy will see a miraculous turnaround over the next 18 months,” Ryan says.
“Tax cuts to business are the worst way to stimulate the economy, keep jobs and grow jobs. It’s not an economic plan with vision; it’s a back door way to restructure the tax system paid for by consumers,” says Ryan.
“This is not what Ontario families, the poor and the thousands who have lost their job need,” Ryan says. “They needed a budget focused on long-term job creation. Instead, they got new taxes for everyday goods and the brunt of the economic pain.”
Ryan is also critical that Ontarians’ health care needs will not be met. The majority of Ontario hospitals are in deficit and a 2.1 per cent increase in base funding “means the deficits will grow. And that means more health service cuts and job cuts.”
The budget also ignored the hands-on care needs of residents in long-term care homes. While there is new money for new beds, there is no new funding to hire front line staff to care for residents at the bedside. “So much for the revolution in long-term care promised by this government,” says Ryan.
Spending on “hard” infrastructure doesn’t create long-term jobs, but investments in “social infrastructure,” like child care, special education and health services, does create long-term growth. “The Liberals have completely missed the mark on sustainable job creation,” says Ryan.
For more information, contact:
Sid Ryan President, CUPE Ontario (416) 209-0066