HOW much is four per cent? Is it a lot? A little? If you had to find a way to cut four per cent from your family’s budget, could you do it?
What if it meant preserving your dream, and saving for the future? Would you do it then?
Anyone who has had to find savings and manage a family budget knows that it isn’t easy. But when faced with difficult times families will do what it takes to protect what matters most. And that is what our government was elected to do.
We were elected to balance the budget responsibly, while protecting health care and education for future generations. To protect public services, our own fiscal house must be in order.
But the fact is for 15 years the Liberal government was paying the mortgage with the credit card. They left the province with $15 billion deficits and $375 billion in debt. The interest payments on this debt alone cost our province over $1 billion dollars a month.
That’s $1 billion a month that could go towards health care or education.
This deficit and debt has put Ontario on the road to bankruptcy — a situation that our children and grandchildren will be forced to pay for if we don’t act now.
Our government campaigned on finding four cents in savings for every dollar the province spends by doing things smarter, by modernizing services to reduce administrative costs and by considering how to eliminate duplicative processes.
The government has found efficiencies and is delivering additional savings beyond the 2018-19 fiscal year while providing relief to Ontario individuals, families and businesses. For example, with potential savings of $1 billion each year, centralizing procurement across government is just one-way Ontario is doing things differently.
But we can’t do it alone. Over 90 per cent of Ontario’s spending goes out as transfer payments to agencies and municipalities.
So, we are asking large urban municipalities and district school boards to work with us to find the savings and protect front line services. We are asking them to find four. Find a way to save four per cent and redirect those savings to the services that matter most.
And we are here to help by giving them tools and resources to make it happen.
This includes $7.35 million in support through the Audit and Accountability Fund so they can conduct their own line-by-line reviews of spending and find ways to protect vital services for future generations.
Earlier this year, the province’s Municipal Modernization Fund made $200 million available to 405 municipalities. This $7.35 million is extended to 39 large municipalities that were not previously covered. In Northern Ontario, eligible communities that can claim support include Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Sudbury.
We are confident that with the right supports, four cents of savings is an achievable goal. If we can do it, they can do it.
Families in Ontario understand that building a better future means putting your house in order today. And our government shares the same priorities as our municipal partners — strong, sustainable public services.
So, lets work together, put Ontario on a path to balance and protect what matters most.
MPP for Kenora-Rainy River
(Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Minister of Indigenous Affairs)