In Wynne’s world On­tario is just fine

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION -

On­tar­i­ans can be for­given if they don’t share Premier Kath­leen Wynne’s en­thu­si­asm for the great job her gov­ern­ment is do­ing man­ag­ing the econ­omy.

The Lib­er­als are cer­tainly proud. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Charles Sousa boasted in his fall eco­nomic state­ment:

“Our plan is work­ing. Over the last two years our econ­omy has grown by 5.3 per cent. Last year our growth was dou­ble the na­tional av­er­age ... for the first quar­ter of this year, On­tario’s growth was faster than that of the United States and the G7 ... The un­em­ploy­ment rate is at an eight-year low.”

Sousa noted the Lib­er­als will bal­ance the prov­ince’s bud­get as promised in 2017-18. Now, let’s talk about the real world. It’s true that be­cause of a lower Cana­dian dol­lar, strength­en­ing U.S. econ­omy and the oil-price crash, which help On­tario’s man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, the pro­vin­cial econ­omy has been do­ing bet­ter after a decade of un­der­per­form­ing.

But as Ben Eisen of the Fraser In­sti­tute’s On­tario pros­per­ity ini­tia­tive wrote this week, danc­ing in the streets is pre­ma­ture.

Be­tween 2003 and 2014, On­tario’s in­fla­tion-ad­justed, per-per­son eco­nomic growth av­er­aged just 0.3 per cent an­nu­ally, about a third of the eco­nomic growth rate of the rest of Canada.

In 2000, av­er­age dis­pos­able house­hold in­come was 10 per cent higher in On­tario than the rest of the coun­try. By 2012 it fell be­low the na­tional av­er­age for the first time.

Com­bined with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s free-spend­ing fed­eral Lib­eral gov­ern­ment, On­tario’s in­come tax rate now tops out at a job-killing 53.5 per cent.

Since com­ing to power in 2003, the Lib­er­als have more than dou­bled On­tario’s debt to more than $300 bil­lion, mak­ing On­tario the world’s most in­debted sub­sovereign bor­rower.

The only rea­son the Lib­er­als will be able to bal­ance the bud­get in 2017 — after de­liv­er­ing nine straight deficits — is through such mea­sures as their un­pop­u­lar sale of 60 per cent of Hy­dro One to the pri­vate sec­tor.

Their multi-bil­lion-dol­lar ex­per­i­ment with green en­ergy has been a dis­as­ter, help­ing to saddle On­tar­i­ans with some of the fastest rising elec­tric­ity rates in North Amer­ica.

Their ex­per­i­ment is capped off by Wynne’s car­bon pric­ing scheme, ex­pected to take an­other $2 bil­lion out of the pock­ets of On­tar­i­ans this year alone.

Re­ports of the rebirth of On­tario’s econ­omy have been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated.

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