(Cambridge) MPP Rob Leone stood up for the people from Cambridge and North Dumfries today, expressing his lack of confidence in the Liberal government.
The 2013 edition of the Ontario budget lacked a credible plan for jobs, while increasing spending to record levels.
“A vote for this budget is a vote of confidence in this government, and after years of uncontrolled overspending and scandal, the people of Cambridge have lost all confidence in the Ontario Liberals’ ability to govern.”
It was revealed Thursday that spending will increase by $3.6 billion next year, with the deficit also set to increase to $11.7 billion.
Leone says that this is a clear indication that the Liberals have decided to pander to the NDP, rather than make the tough decisions to get the province back on track. The NDP joined the Liberals to vote against the Cambridge MPP’s balanced budget legislation on March 21st.
“Catherine Fife and the NDP complain about waste and scandal, but when push comes to shove, they drape their arm around the Premier and offer their wholehearted support,” added Leone. “People want a clear path out of this mess, and only a Tim Hudak-led government can provide the solutions to rebuild Ontario.”
In the lead up to the budget, almost every idea put forward by Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC party was dismissed by Premier Wynne without meaningful discussion. Leone says this is evidence enough that this government is well past its expiry date.
“After years of making promises they haven’t kept, and in addition to all the scandals that continue to plague this government, it’s becoming clearer that change is necessary.”
Thursday’s budget comes on the heels of recent revelations that costs associated with canceling the Oakville power plant were 775% higher than the Liberal government originally stated.
For Leone, enough is enough.
“Instead of spending money on the priorities of the people of Ontario, the Liberals have wasted billions of dollars trying to win an election. For this reason, I have lost confidence in this government.”
Cambridge and North Dumfries MPP Rob Leone continued the fight to stop a government trades tax that will drive up costs for trades people, employers and residents in Cambridge and North Dumfries.
“I pledge to the hardworking tradespeople and residents of my riding that I will oppose any and all efforts by the McGuinty-Wynne government to impose a trades tax,” said Leone. “The trades tax will make almost everything more expensive, from practicing a trade to getting your hair cut or car serviced.”
Today’s signing is part of a province-wide campaign that encourages MPPs to stand up for tradespeople and local residents, by signing a pledge to Stop The Trades Tax.
“On behalf of tradespeople and businesses across Ontario, I want to thank Rob for his support,” said Sean Reid, Chair of the Stop The Trades Tax Campaign. “The trades tax will drive good people out of the trades, by sticking tradespeople and employers with millions of dollars in new costs.”
The McGuinty-Wynne government is planning to force Ontario tradespeople to pay membership fees, or a trades tax, to fund its newest bureaucracy, the Ontario College of Trades beginning on April 8th. It is expected that employers will start paying the tax in 2014.
Leone worries it will lead to an exodus of skilled tradespeople to other provinces at a time when Ontario has a skilled trades shortage and red tape is taking a serious toll on the sector.
“Not only do these fees need to be scrapped, but the Ontario College of Trades also needs to be abolished,” Leone noted. “Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Caucus are committed to abolishing this unnecessary and costly bureaucracy.” The Ontario PC Caucus will present an opposition day motion for April 10th calling on the government to abolish the Ontario College of Trades. A vote will take place at the end of the day on Wednesday.
The Stop The Trades Tax campaign was launched in 2011 and has grown to 31 organizations whose members represent more than 8,000 small, medium and large Ontario businesses and 130,000 skilled tradespeople across the province. The campaign is supported by tradespeople and business owners who fix our cars, our roads, cut our hair, and build and renovate our homes and hospitals.
A bolder vision for the College and University sector is required to ensure Ontario students will thrive in the job market, PC MPP Rob Leone said today.
Responding to the release of a report by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), the PC critic for Training, Colleges and Universities welcomed healthy discussion in a sector badly in need of restructuring.
“I think the HEQCO report raised some important points, many of which were also raised in our white paper Paths to Prosperity: Higher Learning for Better Jobs,” said Leone. “What is unanimous is that the current system is failing a lot of students.”
The report suggests that the government has not been “active or assertive” and says that “discipline, consistency and commitment” will be required to get the university and college sector thriving once again. It is a claim that Leone says has been echoed across Ontario campuses.
“Students want an increase in quality, more accountability for tuition hikes and to ensure a good job is waiting when it’s all said and done,” continued Leone. “This Liberal government has yet to acknowledge or address these concerns.”
Many of the shortcomings of the current system involve tuition increases with no guarantee of an increase in quality. Leone said students can’t stomach increases without a clear demonstration of improvements to their programs. Ontario announced a three percent increase to tuition next year, all the while failing to take quality into consideration.
Many suggestions tabled in the report closely resemble those put forth in Paths to Prosperity: Higher Learning for Better Jobs.
“The evidence suggests that strategic funding targeted to specific
desired outcomes is a forceful and dramatic incentive that steers
the system and influences the behaviour of institutions”
(Page 7 – Quality: Shifting the Focus)
Leone wasn’t surprised by the similarities between the reports noting that students and post-secondary administrators alike explicitly called for a bolder vision within the sector and beyond.
“Education should be outcome based, and under this government, that isn’t the case,” concluded Leone. “Students who spend money and work towards degrees, shouldn’t be left wondering when employment will eventually come.
On the same day that the Canadian government pledged to balance the budget by 2015, the Ontario government brushed aside the idea of balancing theirs at all.
Ontario Liberal and New Democrat MPPs voted against the Living Within Our Means Act Thursday, a bill that would have set a firm timeline for the province to get its books in order. The two parties joined forces, voting 51-31 against addressing the provinces ballooning over $270 billion debt.
Progressive Conservative MPP Rob Leone who brought the bill forward, was disappointed that it did not pass, especially in light of the other news of the day.
“It’s ironic that this government would vote against a balanced budget bill on the same day that the federal government is taking steps to get their fiscal house in order,” said Leone. “It’s not surprising, just ironic.”
In keeping with recommendations in the PC Caucus white paper Paths to Prosperity: A New Deal for the Public Sector, the Bill called forthe budget to be balanced before April 1st, 2017. In circumstances where the government fails to meet the deadline, it would incur a 25% reduction of Cabinet pay in the first year and a 50% penalty thereafter. The debt has almost doubled during the Liberal government’s time in power.
“It’s unfortunate these MPPs won’t lead by example,” said Leone. “Families across Ontario are doing the responsible thing every day by living within their means. Meanwhile their government is adding more and more debt on the backs of their children. It’s not right.”
Leone was hopeful he would have received support from all members of the Legislature since all three political parties indicated a willingness to balance the budget in a similar timeline.
“A vote against this Bill was a vote against balancing the budget,” concluded Leone, “This was chance for the Liberals and the NDP to follow through on their promise, they failed to do that.”
Cambridge MPP Rob Leone outlined a concrete plan to reduce the burden on future generations and ensure services we care about are not put at risk. Bill 26 - the Living Within Our Means Act will be debated at Second Reading tomorrow. It is a bill that would take steps to guarantee that the government balances its budget in a timely fashion, and ensures the province’s debt is capped at a certain level compared to the size of the economy.
“Government should lead by example when it comes to fiscal responsibility,” said Leone. “If it is unable to meet its own deadline, it is perfectly reasonable to hold cabinet ministers responsible by way of a salary reduction.”
In keeping with recommendations in the PC Caucus white paper Paths to Prosperity: A New Deal for the Public Sector, this Bill calls forthe budget to be balanced before April 1st, 2017. Should the government fail to meet the deadline, it will incur a 25% reduction of Cabinet pay in the first year and a 50% penalty thereafter.
The Bill also ensures that our debt cannot rise above 50 % of GDP.
“The interest on Ontario’s debt accounts for more than $10 billion each year,” continued Leone. “That staggering price tag is higher than the amount spent in any ministry outside of Health and Education.”
Leone is hopeful he will receive support from all members of the Legislature since all three political parties have put forward a plan to balance the budget in a similar timeline. This would tie accountability to those commitments.
“We can’t continue to kick the can down the road,” concluded Leone. “If the McGuinty-Wynne Government is serious about solving Ontario’s jobs and debt crisis, they should support the measures put forth in this Bill. A vote against this Bill is a vote against balancing the budget.”
Debate will take place Thursday, March 21st, with a vote occurring in the afternoon session.