BENJAMIN PRIEBE The Standard
SCUGOG: Just hours before the Ontario Liberal Party released it's new budget plan, which triggered a vote of non-confidence from the Ontario NDP and began a race to the polls - Durham MPP John O'Toole held a meeting to speak on the budget, on Friday, May 2.
"This [budget] is already very left-leaning, the Liberals expect a balanced budget by 2018 - but there are no details on how they'll make it happen," said MPP O'Toole.
The key points of the presentation, led by financial advisors from Collins Barrow Chartered Accountants and Brian Callery of The Callery Group, covered numerous topics, including public transit, Kathleen Wynne's new pension plan, and pay for government-sector employees.
The resounding message of the Progressive Conservative's presentation was "even if we're in a slowly growing economic period, we remain $12 Billion underwater. There's too much focus on fixing past mistakes, and not enough on moving forward," according to MPP O'Toole.
Historically-increasing wages for public-sector employees was one of the hot issues adressed by the party - who held firm that wages should be examined, to allow for money to be put towards Ontario's increasing $12 Billion deficit.
"The CEO of Ontario Power Generation makes $1.5 Million per year, and he doesn't even get his hands dirty," said MPP O'Toole. "It's time to realize that Ontario has one of the highest unemployment rates, while government workers suck up every extra dime."
MPP O'Toole stressed that government workers should have their wages frozen, not slashed, and that the higher eschelons of management need reassesment.
The budget meeting also addressed growing concerns around the expanded Canada Pension Plan, which the Liberal Party will put into place as a mandatory contribution on pay cheques.
"Since modern companies outsource and contract their work, no one is paying into C.P.P. and there's a huge amount of legacy pensioners," said MPP O'Toole. "If you're under 30-years-old, this new payroll-tax is going to kill you by forcing you to pay for your parent's generation."
In regards to the recent disparity among large manufacturing companies becoming 'top-heavy', MPP O'Toole said "Everyone gripes about corporations taking too much, and getting too many tax breaks - keep in mind that if car manufcaturer doesn't have a reserve of cash, they'll lay off everyone at the first sniff of a downturn. We need to strengthen our companies, and bear through it until we can stop the outsourcing."
On a more local scale, MPP O'Toole said he is concerned about Provincial downloading onto municipalities in Durham, while money is spent in the Region of York. In the future, he expressed concern for youth who can't afford University, and the career options that may not be available to them without educational support.
"People can't pay their taxes when they don't have any money and make minimun-wage," said MPP O'Toole. "It's time to stop squeezing everyone dry, and the invest in getting our young people in on the ground-floor for the growing technology, software and arts markets."
In closing, the budget group explained that while they don't have all the answers, they definitely have a lot of questions for the Liberal Party.
An emergency Provincial election has been scheduled for June 12, and will determine which political party gains power, and inherets the current issues facing Ontarians.