Ontario's 2016 Budget: The Question is How


By: Laura Steiner

My feelings since my initial column on the 2016 budget are unchanged.  There are a lot of “how” questions still hanging there waiting to be answered.

How can you introduce something like carbon pricing via Cap & Trade which is expected to increase gas at the pumps by 4.3 cents/ litre, and heating oil by $5/month without admitting it will life more expensive for everyone?  There is an exchange between Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Global News Anchor Alan Carter where Sousa attempts to do just this.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa

How can you call the Ontario Student Grant Program free tuition when by the government’s calculations they come up $300 short on tuition for a 3-year program? And it’s not  new spending it’s redirected money.  The program used to be OSAP.  How do you determine middle and low-income families?  If that determination is made through the average income of both parents, then it’s likely not going to help anywhere near the estimated 150,000 students.

How can you introduce the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (O.R.P.P.) without admitting the possibility it could cost jobs in Ontario? Employers, and employees are expected to 1.9% each towards it.  That could mean a lot of smaller businesses wouldn’t hire.

How can you increase funding to Autism treatments by $333 million and then cut children off at age five? This is perhaps the most cruel of all the questions.  Is it not a government’s job to make life easier for the people it represents?  Maybe make it easier for doctors or parents to train in these therapies, and reduce the waitlist that way.

This is a budget so blind to Ontarians’ needs that it leads me to one last how.  How can this government continue like this? I shudder wondering at what next year’s budget will bring.