Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Opposition Parties Say Corporate Grants Should Be Made Public

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Opposition Parties Say Corporate Grants Should Be Made Public

Article excerpt

Opposition parties slam corporate welfare


TORONTO - Ontario's opposition parties say the Liberal government hands out billions of dollars in grants to profitable corporations every year, often with virtually no oversight.

The government shouldn't be picking winners and losers, and should provide a level playing field for all companies in a sector instead of giving grants to ones the Liberals select, said Progressive Conservative economic development critic Monte McNaughton.

McNaughton complains he's been asking for a list of companies that benefited from what he calls the Liberals' "crony capitalism," along with the amounts they received, since January, but has only partial results so far. There were at least 374 grants in a 10-year period, he said.

"We have no idea what the dollar amount is," McNaughton said. "It makes one suspicious when we have a minister who won't even reveal to taxpayers what companies got grants and how many jobs they created."

Those suspicions grow even more when the companies who get grants turn around and donate money to the Liberal Party of Ontario, added McNaughton.

"Quite of few of them, quite frankly, have donated to the Liberals, and it makes you suspicious about what the process is for giving out corporate welfare," he said.

Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid defends the corporate grants as necessary to attract new business investment and expansions, and said the Liberal government has "invested" $2.8 billion in companies through its Jobs Prosperity Fund.

"That has leveraged $29 billion in private sector investment here in Ontario, rather than somewhere else in the world," he told the legislature. "That's 160,000 Ontarians whose jobs have either been created or supported as a result of these investments."

The minister promised the government would make public all the corporate grants once the privacy commissioner had reviewed them and given the green light.

"We're happy to share publicly all of the investments that we've made with businesses across this province," said Duguid. …

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