TORONTO— According to an Ontario Alternative Budget technical paper released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the McGuinty government’s current fiscal plan would result in program spending dropping to levels lower than it was when they took power.
Despite funding increases in key areas, the McGuinty government has done little to reverse the cuts to government services imposed under the Harris/Eves regime.
“If one looks only at specific high-profile areas of public policy, it would appear that the government is making good on its promise to rebuild Ontario’s public economy,” says OAB Co-Chair and CCPA Research Associate Hugh Mackenzie. “Look at the aggregate numbers, however, and the picture that emerges is totally different.”
For all its talk about fiscal imbalance, the government has done nothing to address the problems created for local governments by the downloading of provincial services to the local tax base. The government has done nothing to support public transportation and housing beyond allowing federal funding to be spent.
“As for social assistance, families and individuals who depend on benefits from Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Plan are worse off today than they were when the Conservatives were defeated,” Mackenzie says.
The report identifies income security renewal as the number one priority for the 2007 Ontario Budget, including:
- social assistance reform;
- affordable housing and reduced homelessness;
- high-quality, affordable child care;
- additional funding for hard-to-serve students;
- action on the download of social services onto local governments;
- making post-secondary education more affordable for low- and middle-income students.
“While the government scrambles to hide the budgetary gains it made in 2005-6, it can no longer credibly claim that it cannot afford to make a start on the changes Ontario needs,” says Mackenzie.
Destination Unknown: The McGuinty Government Into the Home Stretch is available on the CCPA web site: http://www.policyalternatives.ca
For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.