Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Sousa's Budget Deserves Support

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Sousa's Budget Deserves Support

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Sousa's budget deserves support

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An editorial from the Waterloo Region Record, published April 24:

For years, Ontario's spendthrift, deficit-addicted Liberal government has resembled a runaway train racing toward a sharp curve on a mountain pass. Anyone watching knew a wreck was inevitable -- unless someone, somehow regained control of that great, roaring machine.

In the budget released Thursday, Finance Minister Charles Sousa belatedly applied steady, though limited, pressure to the brakes of that train. He has not stopped it. He has slowed it to a safer, more manageable speed.

For this feat, which amounts to beginning rather than accomplishing a necessary task, he deserves thanks and support. Yet he will also face red-hot anger and organized opposition, which is regrettable because something must be done.

For virtually all of their 12 years in power, the Liberals have lived beyond their means -- or more precisely the means of Ontario taxpayers -- as if we were all merry revellers at a party that would never end. Spending in that time increased 64.8 per cent, from $80 billion in 2003 to $132 billion for 2015-16. As a result of this spree, the province's accumulated debt will top $300 billion this year. Merely paying the interest on that debt will, after health care and education, represent the provincial budget's greatest single expenditure -- $11.8 billion.

Remember the fugitive train. Ontario's fiscal trend is obvious. Without tighter fingers at the finance ministry controls, Ontario faces higher interest fees on its debt, crippling tax hikes for ordinary Ontarians, damaging cuts to the services we need and for most of us a living standard below what we expect.

Mercifully, Minister Sousa's fingers are getting tighter. Overall government spending will rise by just 1.4 per cent in the coming year. The two-per-cent rise in the education budget will, after inflation, leave little or nothing to satisfy the wage expectations of teachers. The health care budget will increase by a meagre 1.2 per cent this year, even as costs and the population grow faster. …

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