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Dalton's Deficit: A Story of Fiscal Mismanagement

Dalton's Deficit(Queen's Park Report - November 2, 2009) It's official. Not only is Ontario a 'have-not province', but we now also have a deficit to prove it.  Dalton McGuinty has squandered a provincial surplus and turned it into the largest deficit this province has ever seen.  Last week, the Finance Minister acknowledged that the deficit has skyrocketed to $24.7 billion - twice the size of Bob Rae's biggest deficit and larger than the deficits of all the other provinces and territories combined.

Mr. McGuinty likes to blame his deficit on the recession, yet we know that's not entirely true.  Sure government revenue has fallen, but it's largely Liberal spending that has caused this mess.  Consider that it took from Confederation to 2003 to get Ontario's Budget up to $68 billion.  Today, Mr. McGuinty is spending $113 billion.  That's a 65% increase in the size of government since he took office.  Over the same time period, Ontario's economy grew by 6.2%.

Consider also how this new debt and deficit affects the provincial treasury.  Right now, Ontario is spending 8%, or $9.4 billion, of its budget just in interest alone.  That amounts to over $1 million in tax dollars for every hour in every day that is being sent to the New York bond holders that own our debt.  It's more than the government will spend on the entire university system and it's more than the government will spend on the ministries of children and youth services, tourism, agriculture, and environment combined. 

Even with this massive spending and debt we still have significant fiscal problems throughout our riding.  The Simcoe County Children's Aid Society is projecting a nearly $5.5 million deficit this year.  Collingwood General and Marine Hospital is forecasting a $535,000 deficit and apple growers in The Blue Mountains still haven't received a penny in disaster relief from the province.  Waiting lists for local long-term care beds are still just as long.  In fact, they are still 99.9% full 100% of the time. 

Undoubtedly, middle-class families are forced to work harder and harder than ever just to make ends meet, and while they are working hard, Mr. McGuinty is taxing and spending our province into the ground.  In fact, the McGuinty government is spending $2.8 million per hour, every hour of everyday, 365 days a year, then it is receiving in revenues.
 
So how does the government propose to fix this?  Shockingly, the Finance Minister doesn't even know.  He actually admitted "We haven't even begun to look at the choices we might make."  What an avowal of failure for a government that has known for years that their fiscal plan was no longer sustainable.

"We need a new direction," wrote Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak in a recent opinion piece.  "One that reduces the cost of the public sector and fosters growth in the private sector. Ending corporate welfare, negotiating public-sector contracts that reflect the realities of the private sector, peeling back the red tape and over regulation that are paralyzing job creation and introducing targeted tax relief would be a good start."

Hudak went on to write, "History is full of governments that squandered the public's trust by raising taxes or running up massive deficits. It takes a special kind of incompetence to accomplish both at the same time."  I think he's right.

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