Ontario's Debt Clock Keeps Ticking
(August 12, 2013) As I write this column, the province of Ontario owes exactly $258,137,597,185.11 ($258 billion). By the time you read this column this amount will have substantially increased. Ontario's debt is currently increasing by $372 every second, $22,342 every minute, $1.34 million every hour and $32.2 million every day. You can watch Ontario's debt grow on the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation's debt clock. I have posted the clock on my website for your review www.jimwilsonmpp.com.
As you can imagine, there are enormous consequences to having this amount of debt. Today, Ontario pays $11 billion a year in interest payments to service this hefty liability. This is money that could be going toward our local schools, hospitals, public safety and infrastructure, but instead is being diverted to international banks and foreign lenders.
Put into perspective, $11 billion is more than Ontario will spend this year on both the entire Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Transportation combined. Under the McGuinty- Wynne government debt payments have become Ontario's third largest expenditure next to healthcare and education.
It's certainly a lot of money and you would think it would give cause for the Liberal government to revisit their spending habit and change course, but as we've seen over the years this is the furthest thing from their minds.
Since 2003, spending has steadily increased under the Liberals by $48 billion. In their latest budget, spending went up again in two out of three government ministries. This year alone Ontario will spend $11.7 billion more than the province brings in--the 2013 budget projects $116.8 billion in revenue and $127.6 billion in expenses.
What could make it worse is if interest rates go up, a likelihood considering they are so low. A one percentage point increase in interest rates would cost Ontario taxpayers an additional $500 million. If our rates rise to what they were in the early 1990's then we're in big trouble.
And, not only is the Liberal government spending a heck of a lot more on costly programs, scandals and layers of bureaucracy than we can afford. The classic McGuinty-Wynne approach of demanding that hardworking Ontarians dig into their pockets to pay for it continues.
In June, the Ontario PCs uncovered documents exposing the Liberals' long list of almost 50 planned new fee increases. This is on top of the various other taxes they've already implemented (after promising they wouldn't) since coming into power--most notably the health tax, the largest tax increase in provincial history, and the HST. Among the measures proposed in the new documents are a monthly phone bill surcharge of $.75 cents, an $85 fee for seniors renewing commercial drivers' licenses, a $108 validation fee on passenger vehicles and a reintroduction of photo radar.
This is of course on the heels of the gas plant scandal and wasting over $500 million to save Liberal seats in the last provincial election. Not to mention the Liberals' spending another $1 billion in June to secure NDP support for the budget allowing them to remain in power.
Governments are here to manage our finances while providing the programs and services that we care about most. The Liberals aren't doing that.
If we ever want to eliminate the deficit and reduce the debt than the government must get its fiscal house in order. As Ontario's debt clock keeps ticking, interest payments are growing and we are continuing to pay more while getting less.
It's time for a new leader and a new approach. Premier Wynne and her Liberal government have proven that they are not up to the job.