The Ontario minority Liberal government will survive Tuesday’s budget vote.
Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal minority government won over NDP leader Andrea Horwath with changes made to the budget, originally tabled on March 27.
“We’re showing the people of this province that we’re willing to make minority government work but we’re also showing them the sort of Ontario we want to build,” said Horwath in a release.
“Today we’ve made some progress.”
Among the changes included in the budget is a two percentage point surtax on the incomes of Ontarians who makes more than $500,000 a year. All of the new revenue generated, about $470 million next year, would go directly into deficit reduction. The NDP surtax would be eliminated when the budget is balanced in five years. This is expected to affect 23,000 people, about 0.2 per cent of tax filers.
The province currently has a $15.3 billion deficit and the Liberals have said their budget will put Ontario on track to balance the deficit by 2017-18.
Leading up to the budget, the construction industry was worried about cuts made to infrastructure funding, but the province is maintaining its three-year $35 billion commitment to infrastructure and rolled forward that commitment for an additional year.
Other measures added to the budget include the merger of the Independent Electricity Systems Operator and the Ontario Power Authority, saving ratepayers $25 million a year; the Ontario Works rates would also be increased by one per cent in the fall of 2012; and enhancements to the budget’s freeze on executive compensations with a freeze on the overall performance pay envelopes at Ontario's hospitals, colleges, universities, school boards and designated agencies for two years.
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak called the budget “weak” when it was presented. He pointed to runaway spending and no jobs plan as reasons why he couldn’t support the budget.
Horwath said the budget falls short, but it’s better than sending Ontarians back to the polls. She pointed to failure to provide relief from the Harmonized Sales Tax, the plan to privatize Ontario Northland and to close tourism centres in the North as measures she doesn’t agree with. ““This is not the budget I would have introduced as Premier, but I feel we serve people better by getting to work here in the Legislature than by chasing votes in an election.”
DCN STAFF WRITER
COMMENTS FROM READERS
Dear Editor: The NDP didn't do anything except sit on their collective rear ends and abstained. Let's not give credit to that'
Jim Detenbeck, Senior Estimator, EllisDon
Editor's note: Detenbeck is correct. The Ontario NDP party abstained from voting on the budget. This story was posted before the vote, but after leader Andrea Horvath indicated the NDP would not oppose the budget in the Legislature.