By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - Thursday's provincial throne speech isn't sitting well with local MPP Jim McDonell.
MPP Jim McDonell
‚ÄúThe Liberals are planning to continue to spend way beyond their means," said McDonell in a media statement.
He is unimpressed that the newly elected government's throne speech was mostly a repeat of the May 1 budget that led to the June 12 election.
‚ÄúIncreasing our debt puts frontline service funding at risk and will hurt families in every part of the province, including those having the hardest times ‚Äď the young, the disabled, the poor and the seniors,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIf guaranteeing frontline services is your priority, you have to focus on making sure they will be there 20 years from now.‚ÄĚ
Moody's credit rating agency changed the outlook of Ontario's debt Wednesday to negative from stable. But the agency is still concerned about the province's ability to wipe its $12.5-billion deficit in three years.
"After several years of weak to moderate economic growth, and higher than previously anticipated deficits projected for the next two years, the province is facing a greater challenge to return to balanced outcomes than previously anticipated," said Moody's Investors Service in a media statement.
McDonell says credit rating agency is threatening a credit downgrade, if the budget is passed as originally presented.
‚ÄúThe downgrade is a warning that cannot be ignored," he said. "With interest rates at a 20-year low, this can only lead to higher borrowing costs and further cuts to vital services. The Liberals will have to cut their spending, and their record on this matter is dismal. We have already seen silent cuts to healthcare services such as eye surgeries and blood sugar test strips, and new taxes and fees imposed on businesses and residents. This throne speech takes Ontario in the wrong direction."
According to a media statement issued Thursday, the Ontario government's plans to "build Ontario's workforce" will: help recent high school graduates gain valuable work experience with the introduction of Experience Ontario; extend the Youth Jobs Strategy; provide more postsecondary spaces for students; and make full-day kindergarten available across the province this fall.
The government's plans to build the "modern infrastructure Ontario needs" will: make an investment of more than $130 billion over the next 10 years in public infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and transit; create two dedicated transit and transportation infrastructure funds totalling about $29 billion; and commit $1 billion to strategic transportation infrastructure in the Ring of Fire.
The government's plans to "support a dynamic business climate" will: focus on local and international partnerships, including global trade missions, to attract new investments; foster growth through job-creating partnerships with business, supported by the Jobs and Prosperity Fund; and balance the budget by 2017-18, with the help of the new president of the Treasury Board.
The government also stated it will take steps to create the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan and introduce a new poverty reduction strategy.