SD&SG – SD&SG MPP Jim McDonell believes the Liberal government is going in all different directions fiscally and is failing to set priorities.
McDonell’s comments come as Liberal Finance Minister Charles Sousa outlined in his fall economic update Monday.
Sousa says the government will miss its revenue target this year by $509 million.
But the finance minister is confident the government will eliminate the $12.9 billion deficit in three years, mainly by targeting illegal tobacco, contractors who avoid paying sales tax and other areas of the so-called “underground economy.”
McDonell believes the government is blaming others for their fiscal mess.
“They complained about the federal government funding being down by almost half a billion dollars but then, in essence, we were able to verify with the Ministry of Finance that the level of transfer payments were up by $600 million,” said McDonell.
“They’re just flailing out excuses but really it’s a matter of not setting priorities,” he told Cornwall Newswatch.
Meantime, McDonell says health care services are being cut at the Champlain Community Care Access Center.
“The services that we really hold dear to us are being cut just because they can’t control a budget,” he said.
McDonell doesn’t see the Liberals plan to target contraband tobacco making a difference on the balance sheet or in his riding because it’s been done before.
“We don’t see any results in this supposed action plan (against contraband tobacco) that they initiated five years ago. It’s been going the opposite way,” McDonell said. “They target the local grocery stores but really they are the people who are doing the job right.”
McDonell says recent studies of schoolyard cigarette butts show roughly 90 per cent of young people are smoking contraband.
“You’re having no impact by turning up the pressure on these people who are actually selling illegally,” he said.
The MPP believes if the government would bring down the cost of doing business in Ontario then more people would play by the rules. He points to the WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) rates saying they are the highest in the country. “Why do they have to be that way?,” he questioned.
“They’ve (the Liberals) driven up the cost of regulation, the cost of taxes so high, that people are finding more and new ways of hiding these transactions,” he said. “If their only method is trying to go after them with a hammer to stop these transactions, really, they should be making the cost of business more affordable so people aren’t being forced into this.”