At last look, the Ontario government was $312 billion in debt. But Premier Kathleen Wynne has no plan to pay any of it off. Nope, she has a better idea – spend some more.
That’s the signal delivered in a throne speech Monday from Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell on behalf of Wynne’s Liberal government.
The speech comes a week before the government is set to table its 2018 budget, which is expected to include a deficit of about $8 billion the Liberals say is necessary to beef up spending on health care, child care and support for students.
“After delivering a balanced budget this year, your government has made a deliberate choice to make more investments in the care and the services that the people of this province rely on,” Dowdeswell said. “As a result, the 2018 budget will show a modest deficit next year of less than one per cent of our GDP, and outline a path back to a balanced budget.”
“A path”, wow that should be interesting. The only paths we’ve been watching from our Liberal governments is the paths they walk to the banks to take out more money.
As the spending continues and the provincial debt grows, the Ontario Conservative Party is taking note. It took Dowdeswell’s comments as an opportunity to dig at the Liberals for over-promising and spending money they don’t have.
“We see now they’re just prepared to throw away money,” said MPP Lisa MacLeod. “If any of these priorities actually meant something to them, they would have done something about them in the last 15 years.”
But that’s the Liberal way, isn’t it? Canada is $1.2 trillion in debt and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is still spending money. And now the Ontario government, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, is doing the same.
When does it all end? When do these guys plan on paying their bills instead of adding some more?
Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford let the provincial Liberals have it Monday, releasing a statement that criticized Premier Wynne for “trying to buy votes from a few of us.”
“Today, the premier wrote a lot of cheques,” said the Ford statement. “I can tell the people of Ontario that these cheques are going to bounce.”
But that’s the way the Liberal governments federally and in Ontario have been operating for the last few years. They seem to have great ideas on what to do, just no plan of how to pay the bills for all of those ideas.
Back in January, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa refused to acknowledge his government’s spending spree was a vote-grabbing exercise for the upcoming provincial election.
“Every budget is long-term in scope,” he said. “You have to go beyond the election cycles when you’re preparing a budget. I don’t see things on a quarter-by-quarter basis. I look at ensuring I have sufficient revenue to accommodate those very year-end activities but at the same time I have to plan for the future,” he said in a Global News story.
But make no mistake about it. These Liberals aren’t planning. They’re plotting a strategy to buy votes from the most vulnerable people in the province, offering to provide more money for health care, child care and students. Who wants to bet, though, if the Liberals do manage to cling to power after the next election that all these wonderful plans will just drift away in the breeze of debt currently blowing in the Province of Ontario. That breeze shows no sign of calming down and could turn into a major storm if somebody in the Ontario government doesn’t put the brakes to it.
Jeff Wilkinson is a Senior Politics Reporter at Debate Report covering provincial and national politics, . Before joining Debate Report, Jeff worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Jeff has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.