Premier Doug Ford’s work just be­gin­ning

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - OPINION -

While Premier Doug Ford is off to a good start gov­ern­ing On­tario, his big­gest chal­lenges are ahead. Among the ac­com­plish­ments of his Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment in its first 100 days:

Scrap­ping former premier Kath­leen Wynne’s cap-and-trade car­bon-pric­ing scheme that was tak­ing al­most $2 bil­lion a year out of the pock­ets of On­tar­i­ans.

Restor­ing lo­cal plan­ning rights to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties by killing the dic­ta­to­rial as­pects of the Lib­er­als’ Green En­ergy Act that forced in­dus­trial wind fac­to­ries onto un­will­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

Can­celling 758 ex­pen­sive, un­re­li­able and un­needed early stage green en­ergy projects ap­proved by the Lib­er­als.

Plus, re­plac­ing the Hy­dro One board, down­siz­ing Toronto coun­cil, killing Drive Clean, end­ing one of the long­est uni­ver­sity strikes in Cana­dian his­tory at York and re­peal­ing Wynne’s con­tro­ver­sial sex-ed pro­gram.

But the big­gest chal­lenge, cor­rect­ing the fi­nan­cial dam­age of 15 years of tax-and­spend Lib­eral rule, which turned their gov­ern­ment into one of the world’s most in­debted, non-na­tional bor­row­ers, looms ahead. It won’t be easy.

In their 2017 bud­get, the Lib­er­als pre­dicted three years of bal­anced bud­gets in a row, then com­pletely re­versed course in 2018, pre­dict­ing six con­sec­u­tive an­nual deficits, with the bud­get not bal­anced again un­til 2024, when On­tario’s pub­lic debt would have soared to $400 bil­lion.

That’s us­ing the Lib­er­als’ own num­bers, not the larger deficits at­trib­uted to them by the au­di­tor gen­eral, the Fi­nan­cial Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice and the panel struck by the PCs to re­view the prov­ince’s books.

The chal­lenge the PCs face is to bal­ance the books, which is go­ing to take years of fis­cal dis­ci­pline. That will be made harder by Ford’s elec­tion pledge not to use lay­offs to do it, es­pe­cially given On­tario to­day has a pub­lic sec­tor that its pri­vate sec­tor, which pays most of the bills, can­not af­ford. Nu­mer­ous stud­ies have shown pub­lic-sec­tor work­ers have bet­ter salaries, ben­e­fits and pen­sions than work­ers in the pri­vate sec­tor do­ing com­pa­ra­ble jobs.

We agree in­vol­un­tary lay­offs should be a last re­sort — as op­posed to down­siz­ing by at­tri­tion — but none should be un­der any il­lu­sion that the path to­ward fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity will be dif­fi­cult and not with­out pain. Post­media News

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