Service cuts and privatization are a failed strategy that the people of Ontario have seen far too many times, CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick told a pre-budget committee hearing in Peterborough today.
“Doug Ford likes to talk about the provincial deficit, he even tried to redo the math to make it seem bigger than it is, but the fiscal problem in Ontario isn’t from spending, it’s a revenue problem,” Rennick said.
In her statement to the pre-budget committee she highlighted two obligations the Premier has to the people of Ontario. “On one hand, the government has promised to move towards a balanced budget and on the other, Ontarians (however they voted) want assurance they can count on the quality, public services that are critical to their ability to get by in a world of rising costs and stagnant real incomes.”
If Ford wants to deal with the deficit and keep his promises to the people of Ontario then he must stop looking only at the expenditure side of the budget and concentrate on finding new revenues to support services, achieve balance and prevent another Moody’s downgrade of Ontario’s credit rating.
Rennick’s statement outlined potential sources of revenue that the province could pursue, including:
- Follow the example of other provinces like Nova Scotia and PEI which have set the corporate tax rate at 16 per cent to protect their budgets and public services. This would immediately inject $5 billion dollars into Ontario’s budget.
- Ask the wealthiest 1 per cent to help by adjusting the marginal tax rate on just the income they earn OVER the $250,000 threshold to 32 per cent. This would inject another $3.8 billion.
- Enforce existing tax laws by requiring wealthy, multinational tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google to pay sales tax, just like we do for every other corporation operating in Ontario.
A detailed written submission from CUPE Ontario outlines a comprehensive strategy for increasing provincial revenues and maintaining or expanding existing services.
Rennick cited an Auditor General’s report that showed an $8 billion loss to the province from privatization and contracting out as proof that these are not effective strategies for addressing the province’s finances. The Hydro One privatization alone is set to cost the province $2.4 billion by 2024.
“Failure to address the revenue side of the budget will make the fiscal problem worse. It leaves the government without money to protect public services, and, in fact, forces more cuts to those services, like we’ve seen in the last two weeks proposed for our schools and universities.”
Rennick concluded by highlighting key service expansions that would be possible with increased revenue, such as “the urgent need to increase the care time spent with our loved ones in Ontario’s long-term care homes to a minimum average of four hours of hands on care per resident per day.”
CUPE is Ontario’s largest union, with over 270,000 members in every riding across the province, delivering public services that Ontarians rely on every day.