GPO Finance Critic Stacey Danckert on the Ontario Budget

Stacey DanckertCandidate, Kitchener Centre, GPO Finance Critic

As the Finance Critic for the Green Party of Ontario, last night I appeared with the other opposition critics to discuss the 2018 Liberal budget on TVO’s The Agenda.

Before the budget was officially released, we had spent 4 hours in “Budget Lockup,” where we were allowed to read and evaluate the budget before everyone else, while being disconnected from the rest of the world.  We were then given a brief opportunity to share our thoughts about the budget with Steve Paikin.

There just wasn’t enough time for a more thorough discussion, so I wanted to share more of my thoughts with you here.

Deficit

Deficits are not in and of themselves a bad thing (most of us borrow for the things we need), but it is completely unnecessary right now, in our strong economic climate. We can support the people in our communities and strengthen our social programs and we can afford to do it now. For example, we could increase royalty fees for our natural resources, which we are currently practically giving away (like the water that we sell to Nestle for $1/million L!).

We could create road tolls and move away from nuclear, among so many other revenue tools that could be discussed.

Environment

I didn’t want to spend time talking about what people already know we know. But this budget doesn’t cut it.

We need more aggressive emissions targets (net zero by 2050), we need to stop allowing the biggest emitters exemptions from the cap and trade (right now 150 of the largest emitters pay nothing!).

We need to put more money into transitioning into a Green economy – it creates more jobs and moves us to where we need to be, rather than further away from it.

And the great lakes and biodiversity saw such a pittance in this budget, I think it really shows the Liberals’ hand on protecting our natural environment.

We need to stop throwing good money after bad on nuclear power. It helped us move away from coal when we needed to, but it has also proven itself to be far too costly. As a matter of fact, it largely accounts for about one quarter of the deficit we face over the next year! Now that renewables have become affordable, we should be moving towards 100% renewables, including inexpensive hydro from Quebec and Manitoba. We could also be working harder to do the upgrades that will cut the amount of energy that we need.

Social Programs

There are lots of things that get a piece of the pie here, but notably missing is any mention of a future for basic income. Will they even look at the data, let alone roll it out province – wide?

And until then, I appreciate that they are streamlining OW and ODSP programs a bit, but the people in our communities that are accessing these programs need more money now – there is no way to live healthfully off of the tiny amount we provide to support those most in need. For example $50 on dental care for children won’t even cover an exam!

All in all, when you look at it more carefully, the budget doesn’t seem like a plan at all but rather, pieces of a plan. If you plan well, social program spending actually saves you money (i.e., less hospital spending, less on police, less on poverty stop-gaps), whereas if you implement solutions haphazardly, they are likely to cost even more and achieve nothing. While the Liberals will speak to helping the many social programs that get a mention in the budget – programs that the GPO has been advocating for increased spending for years – they haven’t developed a consistent plan to actually do it. The lack of sincerity on rolling this out right before an election after 14 years of not doing it, just doesn’t sit well with me.

But how can we blame them? This is how politics has been done for more years than I know. This time, let’s demand more. Let’s demand that they show us how they will pay for it. Let’s demand that they are consistent in their policies. Let’s demand transparency and honesty. Let’s demand a healthy and happy future for our children and grandchildren.

Stacey Danckert, GPO Finance Critic
Candidate, Kitchener-Centre

John Vanthof (NDP), Steve Paikin (host, The Agenda), Stacey Danckert (GPO) and Vic Fedeli (PC)-

More video from the 2018 Ontario Budget episode of The Agenda can be found here:

Minister Sousa discussing the budget

Expert economic analysis

 

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