Katheleen Wynne gave her speech from the throne this afternoon, the same day that Moody’s credit agency shifted Ontario’s outlook to negative, underlining a lack of confidence in Ontario’s ability to pay its debt obligations, and foreshadowing peril for Wynne’s spending agenda.
During the speech today, given by outgoing Lt.-Gov. David Onley, he praised Ontario’s system of government, saying it “serves us very well,” despite Wynne’s 38% majority. The speech, entitled “Building Ontario Up,” re-affirmed Wynne’s campaign agenda, notably obscene amounts of new spending, followed somehow by a balanced budget in three years.
The highlights were:
- The Economy: The Ontario government wants people to have more jobs. How do they propose to do this? “Strategic action.” There was also mention that this is “The People’s Agenda,” which can mean literally anything. There was something about getting more people graduating with college degrees, which doesn’t seem to have a connection to the jobs plan, but whatever. They will be hiring more teachers, so that’s the jobs plan (guaranteed less than a million).
- Infrastructure and Transit: $130 billion in new spending on public infrastructure over the next 10 years, including $29 billion for transit, “moving Ontario forward.” The government also plans to “work with experts,” which is probably a dig at someone. There was also promise of a trade mission to China led by Wynne, presumably to deal with that whole “make Ontario a manufacturing hub” thing. Someone may get whacked.
- Taxes and Spending: Asking top 2% of earners to “pay a little bit more,” so new taxes, but don’t worry, no new HST this year. The new Treasury minister also doubles as “minister of debt reduction,” an idea stolen directly from Andrea Horwath and the NDP. They also complained that they’re not getting enough transfer payments from the feds. Looks like the “have-not” mentality has really set in.
- Pensions: Because Canadians are too stupid to manage their own money, “the government’s preferred solution” is to take another deduction off the top of every employee’s salary, and ask for an equivalent amount from employers (which means less chance of a raise). Don’t worry, Wynne’s just forcing you to get less take home pay now so that you can get a payout slightly lower than government bond payouts later. “Ontario will lead.”
- Health and Welfare: Ontario will become “the healthiest place” with new exercise campaigns directed at school children. New anti-poverty plans, which will try to lift children from poverty. No specifics were given.
- Climate Change: Ministry of Environment and Climate Change will “co-ordinate action across government to reduce emissions,” and lecture the public on climate change. Onley mentioned that effective strategies need to span borders, but we can guarantee that it won’t be brought up with China, who emits somewhere around 200x the emissions of Ontario.
- Accountability: Laughably, Onley talked about how Wynne will be a force for good, and “an active participant in your lives.” It has a great ring to it, and the Conservatives probably wish that the Liberals had used it as a campaign slogan. Promises of “arm’s length government agencies,” and curbing public sector executive pay to balance the budget by 2017, somehow.
No specific mechanisms for deficit-reduction were given, but Moody’s vice-president said that “Failure to redress the fiscal challenges would add further pressures to a debt burden that has worsened in recent years.”
We’re sure that Wynne’s working on it.