The Ford government in Ontario released its fall economic statement -- its so-called "A plan for the people" -- on Thursday, November 15 with $3.2 billion in proposed cuts.
As gleaned from numerous media reports, the measures announced included:
1. Implementing a tax credit for full-time minimum wage workers (which Ford has frozen at $14 an hour -- at a cost to minimum wage workers of $1.4 billion a year) that would mean minimum wage workers might not pay up to $850 a year in provincial tax (well short of the $1,900 a year they would have earned had the minimum wage been increased to $15 an hour).
2. Cutting nearly $1 billion from children, youth (including cutting pharmacare for young people who have private insurance) and social services with details on social assistance "reforms" coming on November 22.
3. Considering changes to publicly funded health benefits and the Ontario Drug Benefit Program (a concern highlighted by the Ontario NDP).
4. Cancelling a surtax on some of those with the highest incomes in the province at the cost of $275 million a year in revenue.
5. Rejecting a measure that would have stopped wealthy people from incorporating to get a better tax rate than others (at a cost of about $160 million a year).
6. Exempting new rental units from rent control (placing further pressure on already limited access to affordable housing).
7. Eliminating the positions of environmental commissioner, French language services commissioner and provincial advocate for children and youth (who investigated when a child died in foster care and advocated for improvements in the child protection system).
8. Forming a new mining working group that will focus on "streamlining" regulatory approvals and promoting investment in the Ring of Fire region.
9. Stating that the Ontario government would not block interprovincial pipelines -- such as the 1.1-million-barrel-per-day Energy East pipeline -- that link the Alberta tar sands to the eastern part of the country (presumably including export markets).
10. Cancelling a proposed French-language university (it's not clear how much that cost), on top of three other cancelled university satellite campuses -- in Brampton, Markham and Milton -- that had been budgeted at $300 million.
11. Increasing the threshold to maintain official party status from eight seats to 12 seats, as well as ending public subsidies for political parties by 2022 (which costs about $15 million).
12. Extending the hours of LCBO stores so that they are open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, plus developing a plan to sell beer and wine in convenience and big box stores.
13. Providing $25 million over four years to the City of Toronto to fight "guns and gangs."
The Ford government has already implemented a hiring freeze across the public service.
The government also introduced Bill 57 on the same day as the economic statement, a measure that would make it easier to sell Ontario Place in Toronto.
A full budget from the government is expected in the spring of 2019.
Brent Patterson is a political activist and writer.
Twitter photo via @fordnation
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