The Ontario Liberals are taking strong action in the budget to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18, grow the economy and create jobs while protecting health care and education.
To make a minority government work, you also need leadership and cooperation. Passing the budget is a perfect example of this.
We worked hard and negotiated with the NDP so we could keep economic growth on track — there were over 46,000 net new jobs last month after more than 121,000 new jobs in 2011.
It took some effort to pare down a long list of NDP spending demands that would have added to the deficit, but in the end, we managed to come to an agreement that accelerates the Ontario Liberals plan to eliminate the deficit.
We found savings in the education budget to provide $20 million in transition funding for northern and rural hospitals. We cut the price the government pays for generic drugs and we’ll use that money to support the most vulnerable, raising Ontario Disability Support Payments and Ontario Works benefits by one per cent.
We managed to do all of this without adding any new spending in the Budget.
And while the NDP insisted on a tax on the rich, Ontario Liberals wanted to eliminate the deficit as soon as possible. We agreed to the NDP's surtax on those making more than $500,000, but every dollar raised goes towards the deficit — and it will be eliminated when the budget is balanced.
Ontarians expect us to work together, and the Ontario Liberals did just that.
While all this work was going on, the Tim Hudak PCs were AWOL — Absent Without Leadership. They announced that they would vote against the budget before they had even seen it, and refused to take part in any budget negotiations. They were busy nominating candidates for an election no one wanted. They have been delaying the passage of legislation and obstructing the work of the Legislature. They made themselves irrelevant and let Ontarians down.
Ontario Liberals are showing the leadership to make government work in the best interests of Ontarians. And only Ontario Liberals have a plan to balance the budget by 2017-18 while protecting health care and education.
For more information on the 2012 Ontario Budget, contact my Constituency Office at 416-630-0080.