Opposition says Ontario budget ignores family realities

The leader of Ontario’s NDP says the provincial government’s pre-election budget neglects the economic realities of Ontario families.

Ontario’s finance minister tabled the last Liberal budget before the Oct. 6 election. Dwight Duncan announced that the deficit is projected to be $3 billion lower than the Liberals forecast a year ago. He emphasized his government’s priorities are protecting education and health care for Ontarians. NDP leader Andrea Horwath said his efforts fall short.

“Today’s budget shows that Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberals are simply out of touch with the pressures facing Ontario families,” she said. “Ontario families are scrambling to cope with higher electricity bills, rising prices at the gas pumps and an unfair HST that makes life less affordable than ever before.”

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan answers questions from reporters following his presentation of the last Liberal budget before this fall’s provincial election. (duncan2E)

Duncan defended the budget saying that the Liberals are stabilizing the Province’s finances as Ontario emerges from one of the worst recessions in history.

“We are ahead of schedule on our deficit reduction. Unlike the federal government, for instance. They have an increase in their deficit next year and the year after,” he said. “Quebec had the same problem. Alberta had to stretch out their period of balance by one year.”

Duncan also cited the rebound in job creation, saying that Ontario had regained 91 per cent of jobs lost in the last recession.

“The key decision for Ontarians is how you find balance, how do you get back to a balance,” the finance minister said. “We can still have good quality health care and education… but we’ve got to make sure we get back to a balance in a responsible way.”

Tim Hudak, leader of the opposition Conservatives, agreed with Horwath.

“As I travel the province, I’ve had seniors, parents and small business owners tell me that they are sick and tired of being nickled and dimed to death. That life has become too unaffordable,” Hudak said. “I want to be Premier to fight for families who work hard and play by the rules but are left behind.”

Duncan rejected what he called Hudak’s “slash and burn” approach to the budget.

“We are going to continue to pay-down the deficit and we are going to continue to over-achieve on our numbers,” he said. “We will continue to find that balance between deficit-elimination and making sure that we don’t lose the gains we made in education and health care.”

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