TORONTO – The Ontario government tabled a budget today that seeks balance by 2017-18 but kicks the can down the road on needed investments in public services and a long overdue tax cut rethink, say economists from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Ontario (CCPA).
The budget procrastinates by underinvesting in the province’s own poverty reduction strategy, in education, post-secondary education, child care, and health care.
“It is a procrastinator’s budget: one that skillfully avoids a conversation about Ontario’s chronic revenue problem and shifts the cost of underinvestment in public services onto private households,” says CCPA-Ontario Economist Kaylie Tiessen. “Program expenditures are only increasing at 1.4 per cent. After taking inflation and population growth into account, this small increase actually works out to a net decline in per capita expenditures.”
CCPA-Ontario Senior Economist Sheila Block says Ontarians are paying the price for chronic underinvestment in public services:
“This year marked first time tuition made up more than half of the operating budget of post-secondary institutions,” says Block. “The province is requiring students to shoulder a greater share of the cost to get a university education even though everyone agrees it’s a ticket into the labour market.”
“Budget 2015 increases spending at the Ministry of Health at only 1.2 per cent,” Block adds. “Lower even than the inadequate growth in total program spending.”
“Without dealing with the province’s chronic revenue problem, the government will continue to kick the can down the road,” says Tiessen. “And budget day will look a lot like the movie Groundhog Day, with re-announcements and the same unresolved problems Ontario has been facing for years: insufficient revenue to pay for the quality public services Ontarians deserve.”
There is another option: CCPA-Research Associate Hugh Mackenzie has long been calling on the province to have an “adult conversation about taxes” in order to boost revenues.
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