November 20, 2014
A recent Mercury editorial clearly states the fuzzy accounting by Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa was leading Ontario into a path of financial disaster. Its revenue estimates are $500 million short of planned expenses. Corporate and income taxes are also under expectations. With a current $12.5 billion deficit, any hope for reduction in this year’s budget deficit will not happen.
The editorial described Sousa’s prediction of a balanced budget by 2017-18 as “epic fantasy.”
Then along comes Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, with the revelation that the Wynne government last year bought labour peace with the teacher’s unions with a concession package of $468 million. In return, the unions promised to create a “new negotiating framework” for future contracts.
This tawdry episode started when former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s administration negotiated a tough two-year contract with the teachers unions. It represented a major rollback of all contracts. The action started waves of teacher protests that impacted the 2012 school year.
The Wynne government’s complete capitulation rolled back contract gains by the McGuinty government in public school teacher contracts to help reduce soaring education costs. These cutbacks included a two-year pay freeze, partly reducing sick pay and eliminated sick pay banking.
The Wynne settlement resulted in the teachers stopping their job action in the schools and reducing public unrest.
Education Minister Liz Sandals, MPP Guelph, refused to answer questions about the cost of the teacher concessions in a scrum with reporters then bolted without further comment.
It seems odd that while the Liberal Finance Minister is lamenting the lack of “tools” to reduce the deficit, that Ms. Sandals would refuse to comment on the $468 million cost of the major concessions to the teachers. That’s close to the same amount that the current budget is short, according the Finance Minister.
Did Ms. Sandals ever explain that cost when running for re-election last June? Was it so essential to gain the support of the teachers unions by buying them off to gain a majority at a cost of $468 million?
Now the teachers are heading back to the well as negotiations proceed for the next two or three years. Will it be more concessions by a gutless administration masquerading as a provincial government?
The Wynne-Sandals dynamic duo has already drained the swamp of any credibility with the teachers because they caved in so easily last year.
It would appear so, as Ontario’s finances slithers slowly toward a financial snake pit, a place where it’s easy to buy votes with the people’s money.
Doesn’t all this rank right up there with the recent defeat of the Farbridge administration in Guelph that mismanaged the people’s business?
The only solution in Guelph is to hire an Auditor General to audit the books and report the city’s real financial status to the new council.
Unfortunately, it will take four years for Premier Kathleen Wynne, to stop the spending and start listening to the experts who have already offered solid steps to restore the province’s fiscal order and responsibility.
But when you blow $1 billion to dismantle two gas-powered generating plants in Mississauga and Oakville to elect four area Liberal candidates including Mr. Sousa, you’re pretty used to buying votes with the people’s money.