Column: ‘Quick fix’ budget leaves Ontario’s North behind – by John Vanthof (Sudbury Star – May 3, 2017)

John Vanthof is the NDP MPP for Timiskaming-Cochrane.

The Kathleen Wynne government released its latest budget last Thursday, and it is disappointing to say the least. The first thing that struck me was the Liberal government’s continued refusal to stop the sale of Hydro One. Their reasoning is disturbingly clear: The Liberals are using the one-time proceeds from the sale of Hydro One to balance the government’s books.

Even worse, the government has lost more than $1 billion of revenue; these funds are now going to private investors who have bought 30 per cent of Hydro One shares. Going forward, this revenue will continue to be lost every year to private interests, instead of funding the programs and services that Ontario taxpayers rely on.

While the government has proposed to lower the hydro rates by decreasing delivery charges, this plan is funded by the taxpayer through government borrowing. Ultimately, you and I will continue pay the full hydro bill and resulting interest on this government’s debts.

Instead of addressing the overwhelming number of administrative policy problems that led to the current energy crisis, the government has implemented a “quick fix” to solve its political problems. Many families in Ontario are finding it harder to make ends meet, due to chronic underfunding of necessary government services.

Premier Wynne missed her chance to turn things around in this budget; instead, Ontario’s hospitals have been cut to the bone. There have been many nursing jobs cut and surgeries delayed due to diminished health care access and funding shortfalls. Patients are being kept in hallways, as there are not enough actual beds and rooms for them to stay in – nor is there enough health care staff to provide the needed support.

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