The Ontario Liberal Budget Plan best positions Ontario for the future through strategic investments in job creation and infrastructure and continuing to strengthen vital public services, while staying on track to balance the budget by 2017/18.
“Our Budget proposes a 10-year plan to strengthen Ontario’s economy and support families through additional investments in health care, education, and supports for seniors,” said David Orazietti, Liberal candidate. “The NDP platform contains watered down versions of a number of the initiatives contained in our Budget, and completely neglects of a number of key issues that matter to Ontarians, such as strengthening retirement benefits.”
The Liberal Budget plan proposes the establishment of a new, 10-year $2.5 billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund that will strengthen Ontario’s ability to attract business investments and support quality, well-paying jobs, as well as an investment of $295 million over two years for the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy to help young people gain the skills and experience to obtain meaningful employment. By contrast, the NDP platform is unclear about specific funding for programs to support job creation and makes no mention of a youth employment strategy.
In addition, the NDP platform makes no commitment to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC), an important economic development fund that has provided $87 million to support 728 local projects in Sault Ste. Marie alone. The Liberal budget plan commits to maintaining the NOHFC, which provides $100 million per year for economic development in Northern Ontario. The Liberal government has increased the total value of the fund from $60 million to $100 million. Furthermore, the NDP platform fails to allocate any specific monetary amount towards the development of the Ring of Fire, while the Liberal Budget commits $1 billion to create transportation infrastructure in the Ring of Fire to support the creation of long-term jobs in the North.
The Liberal plan additionally supports job creation and economic stability through a $130 billion, ten-year infrastructure plan which includes a $29 billion dedicated fund for roads, bridges and highways throughout the province. The Liberal plan commits $14 billion for transportation infrastructure projects outside the GTA, which will be used in part to accelerate the Northern highways expansion program, including the four-laning of Highway 17. The NDP platform does not include a ten-year infrastructure plan and does not designate infrastructure funding for Northern Ontario.
The Liberal Budget plan contains measures to help families with their every day costs, including a $100 increase to the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) and the continuation of the 30% Off Tuition grant, which helps over 230,000 postsecondary students across Ontario. The NDP platform fails to mention either of these two important programs.
To further support Ontarians as they age, the Budget confirmed the province’s commitment to strengthening retirement benefits for seniors by building on the CPP. The NDP will not commit to improving pension supports for Ontarians.
“The NDP have blocked a serious jobs plan, a plan to strengthen retirement benefits to help Ontarians retire with dignity and security, as well as the largest investment in transit and infrastructure in our province’s history,” said Orazietti. “The Liberal Budget presents a well thought out plan to build upon the gains we have made and keep Sault Ste. Marie moving forward.”