The Ford government’s spending review that uses numbers, taken out of context, to justify their plan for massive cuts and privatization, will make life much more difficult and expensive for working people and their families, says Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario.
In the report released Tuesday, corporate financial advisors Ernst & Young provided the Ford government with a blueprint to privatize public services, sell off valuable public assets and bring in user fees for the public services all Ontarians rely on. To justify these recommendations, the report cites increased government spending without factoring in the corresponding increase in the province’s gross domestic product (GDP). The report also ignores serious concerns regarding the province’s loss of critical revenue through corporate tax cuts and the misguided sell-off of revenue-generating assets like Hydro One.
“Financial decisions should never be based on a series of half-truths – especially when they involve the health and well-being of every person in Ontario,” says Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “How many times do we need to learn the same lesson? Privatizing public services means lower quality services and higher costs for working people and their families. The only people that ever benefit are those who already have more money than they know what to do with.”
“The people of Ontario count on public services every day. We cannot allow this government to undermine those services rather than deal with the real elephant in the room,” says Hahn. “We have a revenue problem in this province. After decades of corporate tax cuts, we don’t have the money we need to properly fund the services we rely on. Profitable corporations and the very wealthy pay a fraction of the taxes that the rest of us pay. That doesn’t mean we should be cutting services – it means it’s time for corporations to start paying their fair share again.”
Hahn pointed to a recent exposé co-authored by Corporate Knights and the Toronto Star that compared personal tax rates to corporate tax rates. According to the extensive 20-page report, individuals and corporations used to pay an equal share of taxes to fund the services and programs our communities need to thrive. Today, individuals pay 3.5 times more than corporations. At the same time, corporate profits have soared while most individuals struggle to make ends meet.
“There are people in Ford’s government who will tell you that lower corporate taxes are needed to attract more jobs, but decades of evidence show this isn’t actually true,” says Rennick. “Even Stephen Harper’s federal finance department found corporate tax cuts are not effective in creating job growth compared to investments in programs for lower-income households and public infrastructure.”
“We’ve seen this pattern before with Ford when he was at the municipal level. The Ford brothers brought in a private consulting firm to do a core service review that identified a massive deficit to justify a long list of service cuts. In the end, 85 per cent of the spending shortfalls turned out to be fiction,” said Hahn. “We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled. Our lives will get a lot harder if we do.”