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Liberal math, it never quite adds up

(December 2, 2015) Last Thursday's Fall Economic Statement is further proof that there is no reason Ontarians should trust the Liberal government's numbers.

It would be nice if they'd surprise us, but that is simply not the case when it comes to the province's books.

The Kathleen Wynne Liberals refuse to admit the promise to balance the budget by 2017-2018 is a sham, even though the Financial Accountability Officer's report confirmed this earlier in November.

The government is claiming they will reduce the deficit in 2015-2016 from $8.5-billion to $7.5-billion. The Liberals have achieved these numbers by using $1-billion in reserve funding and another $1-billion from the sale of Hydro One.

However, Finance Minister Charles Sousa says the dropping deficit is due to lower interest payments and higher revenues, but when you examine the Fall Economic Statement it's clear where exactly the money is coming from.

Just check out page 100, which reads: "This increase [in revenue] largely reflects the government's progress on its asset optimization strategy related to the recent Hydro One initial public offering."

Of course, we've been saying all along that this government never intended to use the money from the sale of Hydro One to pay for new infrastructure. Instead, the fire sale money is earmarked for Liberal scandal, waste and mismanagement.

The fall economic statement also states that the government will consider other tools for revenue growth in order to raise $8-billion to eliminate the deficit. Clearly, the Liberals need to fess up and tell Ontarians which taxes they will raise – or what new taxes they will create – to balance the budget.

Given that the government will have to reduce the deficit at nearly four times the rate of the past four years, it seems the Liberals have no way out but to increase taxes or cut additional front line services for Ontarians even more than they have already.

Simply put, the Fall Economic Statement is further proof that the Wynne Liberals just aren't in it for Ontario anymore.

And it's not just our party that is crying foul. So is the NDP and groups such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"Minister Sousa is living in a fiscal fantasyland if he thinks he will balance the budget by 2017. His numbers don't add up," CTF Ontario director Christine Van Geyn said. "Just because the minister shows numbers to back up his claim doesn't mean we should believe those numbers."

Van Geyn went on to call the government's fiscal projects "laughable," saying that "Over the past eight years, this government has caused program spending to grow at an explosive 4.1 per cent per year."

The CTF states the Liberals have little track record when it comes to cutting spending and our party couldn't agree more.

Time and again, we've seen how the Liberals waste hard-earned tax dollars. There was the E-Health scandal, the ORNGE Air boondoggle and, of course, the gas plants affair. And just recently we learned the government was making secret payments to teachers' unions to help cover contract negotiation costs.

Why anyone would place faith in the Liberals is beyond me. They don't play by the rules. They tell tales that aren't true and their math never adds up.

When we return to power in 2018, our party will work every day to restore the trust that people should have in their government. We will work to make Ontario great again. That's a promise you can bank on.

Jim Wilson is the Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey.

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