Frank Klees

Frankly Speaking

April 12th, 2011

The Premier Shrugged

Sky-rocketing hydro bills,  the HST driving up prices on everything we touch, grocery bills that  get higher by the week, gas pumps that seem on over-drive and the pay cheque or pension cheque that runs out before the end of the month for most families.

It seems that regardless of the level of income, families are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.

Is the Premier even aware of these pocket-book pressures ?

Based on the budget that was presented in the legislature recently, apparently not. Despite spending $16.7 billion more over the next 12 months than the province will take in, and racking up the province's debt to almost $260 billion by the end of next year, not one line in the budget provides any relief for families struggling to cope with ever increasing financial pressures.

Was there anything good about the budget ?

Yes. There are promises to reduce the size of government and to review agencies, boards and commissions to find cost savings. A blue ribbon panel will be asked to make recommendations on how health care and other government services can be delivered more efficiently, and there's a promise for more accountability.

And there's a commitment to invest in a mental health and addiction strategy recommended by the legislature's all-party Select Committee. There's a promise to accelerate the implementation of the all day learning program, and to create more post-secondary school spaces. Interesting though, that most of the commitments made in this budget are scheduled for implementation after the next provincial election. 

SO..... Can We Believe Dalton McGuinty's Promises ?

Remember the 2003 election campaign ? No new taxes, was the promise and it wasn't long before we were hit with the single biggest tax hike in the province's history - the $3 billion provincial health tax. The 'no new taxes' promise was made again in the 2007 election campaign, and it didn't take long before Dalton McGuinty forgot that promise and served up his $3 billion HST. Of course, the Premier told us that these taxes, along with the more subtle eco taxes and a basket of user fees are all for our own good.

You'll decide who and what you can believe.  

For months leading up to the budget, my colleagues in the PC Caucus and I called on the McGuinty government to give Ontario families relief from the tax burden that's becoming increasingly more oppressive. We proposed specific measures such as exempting electricity, home heating bills and gasoline from the HST and getting rid of the insidious eco taxes. We called for the scrapping of costly bureaucracies such as the Local Health Integration Networks and the Ontario Power Authority so that more resources could be directed to front line services. These and other recommendations were ignored. Not one found its way into the 300 page budget document.

The Premier Shrugged and Turned His Back on Families

As I listened to the Finance Minister read the final sentence of Dalton McGuinty's budget, I realized that Ontario families had been ignored. Not one tax relief measure for them, no recognition of the struggles families face every day to make ends meet.

The Premier was smiling, the Finance Minister shook his hand and one by one, Liberal MPPs rushed to congratulate them both - apparently for a job well done.  

I thought to myself, we’ll see what your constituents think. And please let me know what you think.

As always, I invite your comments and advice. Please contact me through my website at www.frank-klees.on.ca or call me at 905 750 0019.

Budget Press Release March 30, 2011