Ottawa/Queen's Park




The Liberal government was spinning a disingenuous narrative when it unveiled the 2016 provincial budget at Queen's Park yesterday, says Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker.

"Their plan looks good only from a distance. Once you get a close-up of the details hashed out inside the 346 budget papers, it really begins to take its true shape, which is that it's humbug," says MPP Walker.

The shiniest such example was the Liberals' promise that "tuition will be free," he says, quoting from Finance Minister Charles Sousa's budget speech.

"What he didn't tell you in his speech is that this promise covers only the cost of average tuition in Ontario, it applies only to the provincial portion of education costs and it covers only those students whose family income is under $50,000. The details do not add up to free tuition," MPP Walker explains. "Furthermore, itapplies to 30 per cent of the students, if even that. So, a significant number of students won't be able to receive any or full funding for college or university."

There was also nothing in the budget, he adds, to help keep our small, rural schools from closing, much to the chagrin of the parents and students in Bruce and Grey for whom school closure will translate into long-distance rides to schools in other communities.

MPP Walker says families wanted to hear the Liberal government deliver a plan to make energy rates affordable, to invest in frontline health services and put the province on a path to lower debt levels, which are currently eating up $11 billion in interest payments every year and represent the third biggest expense in Ontario's treasury. This interest cost is more than what is spent in the Community & Social Services sector, he adds, and is money that could and should be going to health and education, and the less fortunate in our society, so that people can get the services and care they need and deserve, when they need them. Sadly, the budget also adds another $30 billion to debt.

"Bottom line, the Wynne Liberals have not presented a credible plan to lower energy rates. In fact, their cap-and-trade program will immediately increase gasoline costs by 4.3 cents a litre and natural gas costs by $60 a year," MPP Walker says.

MPP Walker says he is however giving the government credit for extra support for families with children with autism, as well as palliative care and hospital base funding.

"But I do still worry that the tax increases will bring on higher costs of living for every Ontarian and every family, and higher operating costs for our hospitals and schools, eating up any funding increases they were promised in this budget. Simply put, their plan looks better from a distance," says MPP Walker.

source: media release, Bill Walker, MPP


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