Budget comes with ‘best before’ date

When I buy milk at the grocery store, the first thing I do is look for an expiry date. The last thing I want to find out when I open a carton and pour a glass is that the milk is sour and unfit to drink.
Today’s hard-working families should use the same cautious approach when consuming Dalton McGuinty’s latest budget.
If they do, they will prevent the painful experience of swallowing a bunch of promises that have a best before date of Oct. 11—the day after the next provincial election.
The Ontario budget unveiled last Thursday (March 22) is Dalton McGuinty’s “Don’t Believe it Budget.” It’s a litany of empty gestures and pre-election promises from a chronic promise-breaker.
After four years of Mr. McGuinty’s broken promises, everyday families know they have to take this latest list of promises with a huge grain of salt.
Even as they stand, Mr. McGuinty’s promises fail working families. Just before last Christmas, the premier gave himself a $40,000 raise virtually overnight.
Now he tells the 1.2 million Ontarians who get paid $10 or less: “You have to wait three years for some action.” He tells Ontario’s poorest children: “You have to wait five years for action.” And he tells the majority of today’s hard-working families: “There’s nothing in this for you at all.”
And that’s a shame.
Here’s what working families needed to see in last week’s budget:
Working families deserved a $10 minimum wage today, not a post-dated promise to raise it in 2010. Mr. McGuinty’s approach will just entrench poverty.
Families working for minimum wage will continue living in poverty as inflation grows.
Working families deserved real action to stop the clawback and tackle child poverty, not a promise that something may happen in five years—two elections from now.
This means more and continued hardship for low- and modest-income families. Surely, Ontario can do better.
Working families deserved real investments in family priorities like long-term care, child care, affordable housing, affordable quality education, transit, and the environment.
What did they see instead? Only one in four federal child care dollars actually going to childcare. Only one in three federal affordable housing dollars actually going to housing.
Parents and students looking at more punishing tuition fee hikes despite this government receiving hundreds of millions of federal post-secondary education dollars.
And the Nanticoke coal plant—one of Canada’s biggest polluters—still is pumping out smog and greenhouse gases.
In addition, working families deserved to see some real action to sustain Ontario’s vanishing manufacturing and forestry jobs. More than 100,000 jobs have been lost since Dalton McGuinty came to office.
For decades, Ontario’s manufacturing and forestry sector had provided good jobs, benefits, and a pension so people could retire. Today, that’s at risk and Ontario needs a plan to protect jobs.
We saw none of that in last week’s budget. All we saw was this: a budget full of election promises and little handouts that are all about politics and trying to buy votes, not about fairness for working families.
The harsh reality for today’s families is this. When you wake up tomorrow, get your kids ready for school, pack up the minivan, and go to work, not much is going to change.
There is nothing in the budget that will make your life any better. Nothing to make it more affordable. Nothing to make it any fairer. And that’s a shame.
This is a classic pre-election budget. It has lots of McGuinty promises. But we all know what happened the last time the Liberals made hundreds of promises.
And this time the promises aren’t even that good.

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