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McGuinty's "Buy Korea Policy" is bad for Ontario

(Queen's Park Report - February 9, 2010) News of Dalton McGuinty's $7 billion sweetheart deal with South Korea's Samsung Group has been met with fierce opposition from many corners.  Here's why.

According to Mr. McGuinty, the Samsung deal to build wind turbines for Ontario will create 16,000 direct and indirect jobs over the next 6 years.  While that might sound nice on the surface, you only need to scratch a bit further to figure out that it's a horrible deal for Ontario taxpayers.

Of those supposed 16,000 jobs, only 1,440 of them would be permanent jobs.  The real kicker is in the cost of those jobs.   Mr. McGuinty is doling out $437 million in taxpayer subsidies to Samsung, costing Ontario taxpayers $303,000 per permanent job created.  That's atrocious.

If taxpayers are on the hook for that kind of money, you might say we're getting some pretty decent jobs.  Not so.  Under this plan, South Korea will get all of the high-skilled and high-tech jobs, and all of the research and development that goes with those jobs.  Under McGuinty's "Buy Korea Policy" Ontario will only get the assembly line jobs.  That's a raw deal.

As if that's not enough, Ontario companies didn't even get to bid on this deal, making it the mother of all untendered government contracts.

To be fair, Samsung isn't the only foreign recipient of our tax dollars.  French video game developer Ubisoft got a handsome $263 million grant to apparently create 800 jobs in 10 years.  That works out to $330,000 per job.  And then there's the promised government rebate of $10,000 to subsidize GM's Chevy Volt electric car - a car not even made in Canada, never mind Ontario, and a plan that analysts estimate will cost $3.5 billion to implement.  

With just these three programs, Mr. McGuinty has handed out over $4 billion in subsidies to foreign companies.  That's a hefty sum.  

I believe it's time for Dalton McGuinty to stop picking winners and losers in business and focus instead on targeting taxes that would make Ontario desirable for investment for all companies, not just McGuinty's chosen few.

While Mr. McGuinty touts these foreign deals, Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has been travelling Ontario talking about ideas to promote struggling Ontario businesses.  Some of those proposals include implementing a payroll tax holiday to make it easier for Ontario businesses to hire more staff; a one year suspension of the land transfer tax to make home ownership more achievable and to help create construction jobs; and the reinstatement of the Red Tape Commission to remove barriers to growth for Ontario businesses.

I'd rather support Ontario businesses so that they can grow and prosper and develop leading technologies that we can sell around the world, not the other way around.

It seems getting a good deal for taxpayers is something Mr. McGuinty has long forgotten.


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