Photo: Bill Walker
Bill Walker MPP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound
Queen's Park

Bill Walker MPP

Media Release:

For Immediate Release
April 27, 2017

MPP Walker says budget over-hyped, disappointed rural Ontario didn’t get the plan it deserves

QUEEN’S PARK – Last week the government released a budget that is just more proof that hard-working families and their children in Bruce and Grey will continue to pay more and get less, warned MPP Bill Walker.

“Future generations are being saddled with $311.9 billion in debt. This means, the government will be spending more on interest on the debt than on children and youth services (autism funding), or transit and highways, or post-secondary education, or agriculture,” Walker said.

The interest on the debt, which the Liberals doubled in 14 years, costs $11.6 billion a year, making our province the largest subnational borrower in the world.

“I worry that they have no plan to get the debt under control, which puts all our key public services at risk, including schools, hospitals and social services,” Walker said.

He’s also disappointed that key issues facing constituents in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound continue to go unaddressed, including school closures and special-needs funding, hospital budgets and seniors care.

“Their promise to strengthen supports for students with special needs is too vague. They had an opportunity to do it but failed to reinstate the millions of dollars they cut in special education funding at our and other boards across Ontario,” he said. “As a result, special needs students in my riding will continue to go without the supports they need in the classroom.”

Similarly, their promise of a three-per-cent increase to hospitals is over-hyped after years of frozen budgets and cuts to patient services.

“They froze hospitals budgets for four years, and allowed them be walloped by rising Hydro bills and other operating expenses,” he said. “In this context, a three-per-cent increase will only go so far, but it definitely won’t fix the root of the problem long-term. If we want rural hospitals to be sustainable beyond 2017, then a change in the funding formula is where they need to go to get it done.”

Likewise, the government’s promise to boost funding by two per cent for seniors in long-term is a band-aid solution.

“I welcome the increase, as it’s something I championed by way of my private member bill; however, it would have been more sincere if they’d committed to tying seniors’ funding to inflation to ensure it’s sustainable beyond 2017,” Walker said.

“With 26,500 seniors on the wait list for a nursing bed in Ontario, it’s also shameful they  didn’t commit to adding a single bed to accommodate those in need. Neither did they include a plan to help speed up the redevelopment of the 30,000 outdated beds,” he said.

For now, he adds, they are throwing re-election goodies at Ontarians, and claiming that they’ve fixed economic challenges by presenting a so-called “balanced” budget.

“We know they balanced it through one-time cash grabs, such as selling off Hydro One, and other creative ways, such as unauthorized pension assets, and raking in their cap-and-trade taxes,” Walker said, adding the budget is nothing but a patchwork attempt by the government to fix the mess they’ve created before the next election.

“They’re swindling the public with goodies to serve their party’s re-election agenda,” he said. “If they win the next election, they will go back to raising taxes, cutting health care, and hiking your hydro rates once again,” he said.

Walker said he and his caucus colleagues will not support a budget that makes life harder. “We will continue to stand up for Ontario families and taxpayers against this reckless government,” said Walker.

CONTACT: Ana Sajfert | | 416-325-6242

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