Straight Talk
EDITORIAL - Wynne’s flip-flop on paying off deficit

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne apparently no longer considers paying off our deficit a priority for her government.

Credits: Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

EDITORIAL | QMI AGENCY

In his budget speech last May, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa was unequivocal about what he said was the Liberal government’s top economic priority.

“Mr. Speaker, let me make it clear,” Sousa said, “Our government believes eliminating the deficit is the single most important step we can take to grow the economy and create jobs.”

That resolve lasted until November, when Sousa, noting government revenue projections for 2010 to 2016 were down by $5 billion, stated, “our priority is clear — this government will continue to protect investments in jobs and families ahead of short-term targets.”

Translation: Eliminating the deficit is no longer our priority. Our new priority is spending, even if it means increasing the deficit or delaying our election promise of a balanced budget by the fiscal year 2017-2018.

Sousa went one better. He claimed that despite the government’s $5-billion over-estimation of its revenues, the Liberals were still on target to eliminate their $11.7-billion annual deficit by the 2017-2018 fiscal year, as they promised in the 2011 Ontario election.

With logic (and math) like this, it’s no wonder that since they came to power in 2003, the Liberals have nearly doubled the provincial debt — the province’s combined annual deficits — from $138.8 billion to $272.8 billion.

As the Canadian Taxpayers Federation points out, that means the provincial debt is now rising at the rate of almost $1 billion a month ($978.6 million), $225.8 million per week, $32.17 million per day, $1.34 million per hour, $22,342 per minute or $372 per second.

Paying interest on that debt — without paying off any of the principal amount — costs Ontario taxpayers $10.6 billion annually, which is the province’s fastest growing expenditure and its third largest expense after health care and education.

Despite this, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals have shown zero interest in balancing the budget, even though they named it as their top priority in last year’s budget.

They continue to implement their ruinously expensive all-day kindergarten program, despite advice from their own hired financial expert, economist Don Drummond, that taxpayers can’t afford it.

Almost every week, new revelations emerge that the Liberals’ legislated two-year wage freeze for public sector workers has so many holes in it, it resembles Swiss cheese.

Wynne says she’s planning to introduce new “revenue tools” (taxes) for transit and, presumably, a payroll tax to pay for the Liberals’ proposed Ontario pension plan.

The Liberals had it right last May when they said the best thing they could do to grow the Ontario economy and create jobs would be to balance the provincial budget.

The fact they abandoned that commitment just six months after making it, demonstrates that they’re not serious about balancing the budget and why taxpayers can no longer afford them.

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