Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the federal government took on debt during the COVID-19 economic downturn so that Canadians wouldn't have to.
But Canadians aren't stupid. Taxpayers know they'll be the ones stuck paying the bill. Some spending related to the pandemic is reasonable, but politicians must limit non-essential spending in other areas to avoid passing down the debt burden for generations to come.
While the federal government's spending spree is adding nearly $1 billion to the national debt every day, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has an opportunity to spur an economic recovery by lowering taxes and cutting waste in the upcoming provincial budget on Nov. 5.
Here are five things the Ford government should do:
1. Lower taxes
Over two million Ontario jobs were affected in the first few months of the pandemic. Even though Trudeau explicitly stated: "The last thing Canadians need is to see a rise in taxes right now," he's already broken that promise. He raised the carbon tax in April, the month pandemic when job losses peaked at 5.5 million across the country.
Ford must do the opposite. When the Ontario government reduced the small business tax rate in its 2019 budget from 3.5 per cent to 3.2 per cent, that put up to $1,500 per year back into the pockets of over 275,000 small businesses in Ontario. Ontarians are also still waiting on this government to keeps its promise to reduce the excise tax on gasoline.
Lowering taxes on families and businesses is the best thing Ford could do for Ontario's economic recovery.
2. End corporate welfare
Ontario is broke. The province's debt is approaching $400 billion, and Ford's government was already adding over $40 million to the debt every day before the pandemic started.
That's why it's so baffling that this government just gave $295 million to the Ford Motor Company – the twelfth largest company on the planet – to modernize its Oakville plant which will require 400 fewer workers once complete.
The Progressive Conservatives promised to end corporate welfare in their 2018 election platform, and they should keep that promise because Ontario taxpayers are sick of seeing their hard-earned tax dollars go to corporations.
3. Reduce the size and cost of government
Nearly 90 per cent of the decline in employment in Ontario from February to May of this year happened outside of government. In addition to keeping their jobs, most of Ontario's 1.3 million government employees qualified for a raise this year which could cost taxpayers up to $720 million.
Ford must reduce the size of government to provide taxpayers some relief and stop giving raises to already well-paid bureaucrats when the province is broke.
4. Lower hydro rates
Ontario families pay 22 per cent more for hydro on average than anywhere else in the country, according to the Fraser Institute, and prices are still rising. Large industrial consumers in Ontario pay up to 65 per cent more.
While this government didn't cause Ontario's green energy mess which sent hydro bills skyrocketing, it needs to fix the problem. Ford was elected largely on the promise to fix the outrageous hydro problem. Ontario families and businesses are struggling right now and exorbitant hydro rates won't help them recover.
5. Refuse funding to wasteful municipalities
Municipal governments across Ontario have their hands out to the province for financial support, but Ford should withhold funding from municipalities that are currently wasting money. For example, Toronto Mayor John Tory plans to move full steam ahead with reckless plans to build a $3.8 billion floating park on a platform in the air above the rails leading into Union Station, even though COVID-19 has devastated the city's finances. This kind of spending is a slap in the face to taxpayers.
Ford has a chance to show real leadership by cutting wasteful spending and lowering taxes in his government's upcoming budget on Nov. 5. Ontario taxpayers are watching.
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