Today at Queen’s Park, the Liberal government presented their exciting new Ontario budget that has been promised to be tailor-made for everyone in order to solve all our problems.
Spoiler: There’s nothing new about it. After an election catalyzed by this exact same budget and Wynne’s majority victory that followed it, this budget proposal comes like a landslide in the faces of the opposition parties.
Unfortunately, for economic analysts (and the people of Ontario who want to work), this budget appears to be a big middle finger to them. Last week, Ontario’s credit rating went from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’, in a report by New York-based agency Moody’s, who made the announcement in response to the provincial government’s apparent disregard for their $12.3 billion deficit. Despite the enormous debt ($288.1 billion in all), Wynne and her cronies maintain that the province is well within its means to spend $130.4 billion this year. The Premier actually believes (and says aloud!) that the government can actually eliminate the deficit by 2017, a feat that would likely require a combination of the luck of someone who wins the lottery twice and the forces of Merlin’s sorcery.
One of the ways the Liberals are going to get that slay-the-debt money is by increasing the income tax for the top 2 per cent of earners in Ontario, a move that is second only to a sovereignty referendum in scaring away big business (see: Quebec). After it was reported last week that Ontario lost 24,000 jobs in one month, it seems like employment in Canada’s most populous province is going out of style, like a passing fad more than a human necessity.
Jim Wilson, the PC’s interim leader, has warned Kathleen Wynne that her “wild spending spree” will cost the province a whole lot more money in the long run, and that it could result in the opposite of what the Liberals want, a need to slash fundamental services like education and healthcare. But no matter how good the advice is or how much the Opposition begs, nobody can stop Kathleen now that she’s got a majority. The Liberals are so unapologetic about their lack of interest for the concerns of their enemies that they didn’t even change the front cover of the budget proposal. It is identical in every way to the one that they presented just before Horwath’s ill-advised rejection.
If her opponents can’t stop Kathleen, perhaps a look-back at history can. Ask any Ontarian who was alive and lucid in the early 90’s what they recall from Bob Rae’s time as NDP Premier, and they will likely tell you it was a time they’d rather forget, but feel obliged to remember. His combination of massive spending and massive debt still manages to wake Ontarians in a cold sweat, and has led to the assurance that the NDP will never be elected to government in the province ever again.
If Kathleen Wynne fails to learn from Rae’s mistakes (and it looks like that’s where she’s heading), there will only be one feasible winner in the long-term, the Progressive Conservatives, who will profit in the next election, and every election to follow. Unless she hires everyone as public servants. Then they’ll vote for her, plus she’ll have created a million jobs.