Liberals announce deficit budget

Eli Ridder | The Avro Post

The ruling Ontario Liberal Party announced their pre-election budget on Wednesday, with deficit spending planned for six years to pay for infrastructure upgrades, seniors’ care and dental coverage. 

A throne speech and other announcements in the past several weeks have outlined a a series of high-priority items including $2.2 billion over three years for free licensed daycare for children two and half years old and older.

Analysts pegged the 308-page budget priced at $158.5 billion the “care budget”, with deficits planned over the course after running a $600 million surplus this fiscal year.

A majority of the spending will not be put to use until 2019, if the Liberal plan moves forward.

“We balanced the budget and we have a surplus. Now we have a choice,” Finance Minister Charles Sousa said to reporters, according to multiple reports.

“People are saying, ‘We still need more support.’ So we made a choice to provide more supports.”

There were several new announcements that came part of the proposed budget:

  • billions in funding for seniors: Healthy Home Program $1 billion over three years, $650 million to boosting home caregiver funding, $750 million yearly benefit;
  • Ontario Drug and Dental Program will reimburse 80 per cent of eligible drugs and dental expenses, up to $400 for individual, $600 per couple; up to $700 for family of four with two children
  • Bonuses for business: $411 to fund new apprenticeship program for high school students, $900 million over 10 years to expand Jobs and Prosperity Fund: 70,000 new jobs

A graphic depicting Ontario’s deficit and surplus since 2009 was released by CBC News.

Graphic from CBC News. 

Opposition leaders at Queen’s Park were quick to criticize the budget.

“God help us. We’ve seen this show before many times,” Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford told reporters, according to reports.

Mr. Ford, recently elected leader of the PC Party, said that residents of the province are being “taxed to death”.

The PC leader promised to slash four per cent of spending from the province’s budget should his party form government.

New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath described the budget as “meager”, saying that it “would not undo the damage done by the Liberals”, according to CBC News.

“The Liberals have had 15 years and instead of helping, they’ve only made things worse,” Ms. Horwath said.

“Budgets should be authentic, not designed to hold people hostage with power buying promises. We can do better,” the Green Party said in a statement.

Premier Kathleen Wynne goes up against Doug Ford, Andrea Horwath and Mike Schreiner in the June 7 Ontario election.

More details to follow. Image of Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa applauding the budget from the CBC. 

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