Eco­nomic state­ment: puts money back into your pocket

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION - TOBY BAR­RETT TOBY BAR­RETT Toby Bar­rett is MPP for Haldimand Nor­folk

Last week, On­tario’s Min­is­ter of Fi­nance pre­sented the Fall Eco­nomic State­ment with a prom­ise to put money back into the pock­ets of peo­ple in On­tario, and a prom­ise that trust and ac­count­abil­ity in gov­ern­ment will re­turn. De­spite the $15 bil­lion deficit—now down to $14.5 bil­lion—we in­her­ited from the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion, we are ap­proach­ing fi­nan­cial or­der the same way as fam­i­lies deal with their bud­gets; pay your bills and make ev­ery dol­lar count. We will pro­vide fi­nan­cial trans­parency and re­store bal­ance to our econ­omy.

In On­tario, a strong econ­omy re­quires an ac­count­able gov­ern­ment you can trust. Ac­count­abil­ity, trans­parency, and trust are in­te­gral. The con­ven­tional ap­proach to ‘sweep­ing it un­der the rug’ is not the ap­proach we em­ploy. Our gov­ern­ment has es­tab­lished an in­de­pen­dent Fi­nan­cial Com­mis­sion to closely mon­i­tor and re­view ex­pen­di­tures.

Re­cently re­leased in the On­tario Eco­nomic Out­look and Fis­cal Re­view, was the 2018-19 deficit re­port—cur­rently at $14.5 bil­lion. Since we have taken gov­ern­ment, the prov­ince has saved ap­prox­i­mately $3.2 bil­lion in ex­penses with­out cut­ting pub­lic ser­vices. We have scrapped the cap-and-trade car­bon tax, which has of­fered sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings and kept $2.7 bil­lion in the pock­ets of peo­ple and of small busi­ness.

To­day On­tario is $ 347 bil­lion in debt. Sta­tis­ti­cally, that fig­ure sug­gests that each in­di­vid­ual in On­tario is more than $24,000 in debt and the in­ter­est con­tin­ues to grow. Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Fi­nance (MOF), we will have to pay $12.5 bil­lion this year to ser­vice this debt. With re­gard to the prov­ince’s ex­penses, in­ter­est on the debt ranks fourth fol­low­ing health­care, ed­u­ca­tion, and so­cial ser­vices. The dol­lars that go to pay­ing our debt re­strict cru­cial pub­lic ser­vices that are meant to ben­e­fit On­tar­i­ans.

In or­der to present a clear pic­ture of On­tario’s fi­nances, our gov­ern­ment must re­store trans­par­ent re­port­ing prac­tices. Un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to Au­di­tor Gen­eral of On­tario Bon­nie Lysyk, ac­count­ing prac­tices were “not a rea­son­able pre­sen­ta­tion of On­tario’s fi­nances.”

Our gov­ern­ment has pro­posed tax cuts and tax re­lief that are ef­fi­cient and save money. Not only have we can­celled the pre­vi­ous pro­posed tax on beer, but we have pro­posed im­por­tant tax re­lief for in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, and small busi­nesses.

We have an­nounced LIFT— the Low­In­come In­di­vid­u­als and Fam­ily Tax credit -- which would of­fer in­di­vid­u­als $850 in tax re­lief and cou­ples $1,700. Putting this into per­spec­tive, about 17 per­cent of in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies would re­ceive this tax re­lief. Any min­i­mum wage worker or per­son who has an in­come of less than $30,000 or a fam­ily earn­ing less than $60,000 would ben­e­fit by pay­ing no pro­vin­cial in­come tax.

The ul­ti­mate goal is to put more money in the pock­ets of the peo­ple while be­ing ex­plicit and trans­par­ent with the prov­ince’s books. Although the road ahead looks rough and will not be easy, our gov­ern­ment has the means to im­ple­ment pro­grams and bal­ance a bud­get that is con­ducive to ev­ery­one’s fi­nan­cial well­be­ing. We will strate­gize to re­duce debt and save money, but not at the ex­pense of peo­ple.

Our gov­ern­ment will achieve the trust of peo­ple and be ac­count­able. From tax cuts to a solid plan for restor­ing On­tario’s fi­nan­cial house, our gov­ern­ment has a plan for the peo­ple. Con­se­quent to the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment’s money mis­man­age­ment and reck­less spend­ing, we are pri­or­i­tiz­ing fis­cal sta­bil­ity for the prov­ince and fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity for all who re­side in it -- in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, and busi­nesses alike.

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