Ontario budget ‘misses the mark’, says NDP chief

The leader of the provincial New Democrat Party says today’s Liberal government budget will not stimulate the Ontario economy.

In the legislature today, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan tabled his government’s budget.

It will operate at a $14 billion deficit. But, he said, it will provide an estimated $32.5 billion over five years for infrastructure improvements to build hospitals, fix roads, upgrade social housing and transit.

Duncan added the budget will create more than 300,000 jobs over the next two years.

Howarth said it was a disappointing budget because it ignored the government’s own ‘Buy Ontario” program.

“There’s no doubt infrastructure spending is important,” she said.  “But it’s a missed opportunity; the government has missed a golden opportunity to tie that infrastructure spending with the kinds of job strategies that make sure we’re buying Ontario.”

Duncan said the budget will provide $700 million over two years for skills training and provide $400 million to children benefits. Also announced was a comprehensive tax package to implement a 13 per cent federal sales tax scheduled to take effect July 1, 2010.

Duncan emphasized that improving infrastructure was the catalyst to rebuilding a healthy economy.

“Infrastructure is important for jobs now and it will increase our productivity over the long term,” he said.

He pointed to over 30 projects – valued at over $100 million – including improvements to improve GO Transit’s Georgetown line through separation of its rail grade.

Howarth supported the idea of investing in the economy, but said the Liberals have ‘missed their mark’ and failed Ontarians by only offering short-term solutions.

“There has to be a bigger picture and that bigger picture is reinvigorating our industrial base…They (Liberals) simply didn’t have a vision,” she said.