In 2014, you elected us to build Ontario up. Since then, Ontario Liberals have been implementing a plan that is about investing in people, creating jobs and growing the economy. At the same time, we worked toward balancing the budget.
This year we delivered on that promise. We balanced the budget and expect to post a $600 million surplus for the 2017–2018 year.
We did it without cutting services and jobs. We did it by investing in people, creating economic growth and carefully managing spending.
As a result, Ontario’s economy has been growing faster than Canada and is leading the world’s strongest economic powers, including the US and Europe. We created over 800,000 net new jobs since the recession, and our unemployment rate is at a 17-year low.
But while our economy is doing well, not everyone is feeling the benefits of it equally. It’s getting harder and harder for people in our province to get ahead.
That’s why Ontario Liberals have made the deliberate choice to invest in the services and supports families in Ontario need right now. The deliberate choice to invest in mental health care, health care, home care, child care and more. As a result, we have chosen to run a small deficit of less than one per cent of GDP and have charted a responsible path back to balance.
Ontario continues to be the leanest government in Canada; our per-capita program spending the lowest in the country. Our interest-paid-on-debt expense is now eight cents on every dollar of revenue — almost half of what it was in 2000, meaning we’re able to borrow at the lowest rates in 25 years.
With Ontario back on a solid fiscal track and families still struggling to make ends meet, we cannot afford to pull back. We have to decide if government is going to help people with the challenges they are facing — or look only at its own balance sheet as the marker of how people are doing.
Doug Ford’s Conservatives’ plan to balance the budget goes hand-in-hand with their plan to pay for tax breaks that help only the wealthiest few. Their plan would cut public service jobs and slash services that working families need.
The NDP has built its platform and entire economic plan on a significant error. Their incompetence would remove billions of dollars from valued programs.
Ontario Liberals believe in investing in the care and opportunity that people need and that help to build a strong economy, while managing the province’s budget responsibly. We cannot choose one over the other — both are priorities.
Our budgets invest in care and opportunity for people. And they are built on prudent assumptions about growth — one-tenth of a point more conservative than average private-sector growth projections and prudent assumptions about expenditures, including appropriate contingency and reserve funds.
Since 2013, using this approach, the government has improved on its budget projections by $13.9 billion, or an average of almost $2.8 billion per year. Every penny of that improvement has been used to reduce the debt and deficit.
To support ongoing fiscal sustainability, a re-elected Ontario Liberal government will introduce legislation to mandate that 100 per cent of funds available due to improvement on fiscal projections at the end of a fiscal year go to reducing the debt.
There’s a lot at stake for the people of Ontario in this election. This is a choice between a government that invests in the care and opportunity people need and one that will protect big business at the expense of working families.
The choice is clear: care over cuts.