The Wynne Liberals have tabled their budget, and Norm Miller is raising red flags. The Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP says it’s a big spending budget, where Premier Kathleen Wynne is offering lots of things for free to pretty much everybody. Miller says he thinks Wynne is thinking she can buy people’s votes, and that’s what this budget is all about.
The Green Party of Ontario has raised similar concerns. Leader Mike Schreiner, who was in Huntsville today as part of a provincial tour, says the Liberals are promising the moon in a politically-motivated game to contrast with the Conservatives’ planned cuts. He says people deserve leadership that doesn’t make a wedge issue out of their lives. Of all of the spending, Schreiner says one thing missing is investments into affordable housing for everyone. He says it’s crisis in Ontario, and it isn’t being addressed.
Some of the new spending outlined in today’s budget includes a new drug and dental program for those who don’t have coverage, starting in the summer of 2019. The government says the program would reimburse participants for up to 80 per cent of eligible drug and dental expenses, up to $400 a year for singles and $600 for couples, plus $50 for each child. That adds up to an $800 million investment over the first two years of the program.
The budget is also investing $2.1 billion over four years to improve access to mental health care and addiction services, for a total of $17 billion over four years. It’s offering free preschool for kids two-and-a-half-years-old until kindergarten, starting in September of 2019, and providing those 65-years-old and over with free prescription medication.
Also part of the plan is an $822 million investment in hospital funding in 2018–19. However, of that money Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare is slated to get $750,000, something Miller says isn’t fair.
Overall, the budget projects a $6.7 billion deficit in 2018-2019, which won’t be balanced for six years. Miller says that goes against what Ontarians were promised last year.
Part of the budget also outlines an increase in income taxes for those who make more than $71,500 a year which is around 1.8 million people in the province. Miller notes that’s not the only tax hike outlined in the budget.
He says its a 3.7 per cent median family increase in Ontario, compared to 37 per cent in Saskatchewan, and most provinces are at least 10 or 12 per cent. This is something the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit has raised concerns about as well, saying most Ontarians can’t afford rent and food at the same time, affecting one in eight families.
Miller says the Wynne Liberal policies are a big part of why we’re seeing that.
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Of the $822M investment announced for hospitals across Ontario, MAHC will get $750,000