I am always thankful for an opportunity to touch base with my constituents, particularly when I can provide an overview of the Progressive Conservative government’s first year at Queen’s Park.
I was elected with a clear mandate to restore Ontario’s fiscal health by returning our province’s books back to balance while protecting core front-line services.
The 2019 Ontario Budget laid out a detailed blueprint that delivers on that mandate. It details a 5-year path to budget balance by 2022/23 while increasing spending on health and education as well as providing additional supports for parents and seniors.
Let me be honest about the fiscal mess we inherited in June 2018. After an immediate line-by- line review of Ontario’s finances we found that our province was in a yearly deficit of $15 billion dollars and spending $40 million a day more than we were taking in.
As a result, this year we are paying $13.3 billion for interest payments on a $347 billion debt. Incredibly, interest payments are the fourth largest expense for our province, behind only health, education, and community and social services. Every dollar that goes to interest is a dollar that can’t go to another home-care worker, fixing another school or reducing taxes.
Our government is getting Ontario back on track.
In the 2019/20 fiscal year our deficit is projected to decrease to $10.3 billion. However, we’ve increased funding for health care by $1.3 billion and for education by $700 million, as well as provided $90 million to support a dental program from low-income seniors. We have also launched a new flexible child care tax credit that will support 300,000 families in Ontario, helping cover up to 75% of expenses.
Our ability to continue these investments will depend on making these services and programs sustainable through transformational change to how public institutions operate. We are asking our partners receiving provincial funding, such as municipalities, hospitals, school boards, universities, and community service providers, to join us in finding administrative efficiencies for the purpose of re-directing limited tax-dollars to improve front-line services.
My number one duty is to ensure that Kitchener-Conestoga and Waterloo Region benefit from government policy. I advocated strongly to protect ‘Double Hatter’ firefighters and allow for Fair and Open tendering. I have also supported measures to enact natural gas and broadband expansion in rural communities, increase trade apprentices, and eliminate the hydro-one board and the cap and trade carbon tax.
As your local MPP I plan to move forward and honour my commitments to my constituents and the people of Ontario.