Ontario Liberals’ jobs at stake in looming budget battle

NDP leader Andrea Horwath will "engage in conversation" with Ontarians before deciding to support or defeat the Liberal budget. Photo by Akihiko Tse. (AT_Horwath_032712)

The fate of Ontario’s Liberal minority government rests in the hands of the New Democratic Party.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was quick to slam the provincial budget tabled today at Queen’s Park, saying it has very little to offer in terms of job creation and may not be worth supporting.

“The budget talks about a need for jobs but it lacks a clear plan to link the real job creators with targeted tax credits, and this will lead to thousands of layoffs across the province,” Horwath said.

The budget, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s first since the Oct. 6 provincial election, includes more than $17 billion in belt-tightening over the next three years, which the Liberals say will result in a balanced budget by 2017-18.

“The single most important thing we can do to grow our economy and create jobs for our families is to balance the budgets.” Duncan said. “We chose to keep full-day kindergarten and the cap on class sizes, which protect thousands of education jobs.

“The choices we are presenting today will create and protect 170,000 jobs.”

Despite her criticism, Horwath did not reject the budget outright. The NDP plans to engage people in conversation by phone and online in the coming days before the party decides which way to vote, she said.

Conservative leader Tim Hudak says all his sitting members will vote against the government on the budget contents. Photo by Akihiko Tse. (AT_Hudak_032712)

NDP support is crucial to the survival of the minority Liberal government because Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak made it clear his party would vote against the budget.

“Today’s budget continues the Liberal’s uncontrolled spending and it takes us headlong down a path of a $30-billion deficit,” he said. “It throws up barriers to creating jobs … It doesn’t address the debt crisis and the PC party cannot support the budget.”

Should the NDP join the PCs in voting against the budget, the government would fall, likely triggering another election.