On April 24 the Ontario budget will be voted on at Queen’s Park. I’ve been very clear over the past few weeks that I’ll be voting against the budget, but it’s important that I communicate to you, my fellow residents of Northumberland-Quinte West, why I don’t think this budget is good for our community, or Ontario as a whole.
As the Official Opposition, we supplied the government with a long list of ideas and suggestions that, we believe, would help turn around the economy of this province and reduce the size of the provincial deficit. Tim Hudak and the PC Caucus made a series of strong, principled proposals that would create jobs for the 600,000 unemployed Ontarians and put our province on the path to recovery. Our proposals were ignored and rejected.
Furthermore, after the government commissioned Don Drummond to write a report on how to reduce the cost of government, they have ignored half of his proposals and produced a budget that will increase this year’s annual debt, increase spending in 14 of Ontario’s 24 Ministries, and keep Ontario on a path towards annual debt of over $30 billion by 2018. This kind of fiscal situation will seriously jeopardize our ability to provide basic services to Ontarians in the future.
The budget also contains a direct attack on rural Ontario. The government has chosen to end the “Slots at Racetracks” Partnership. This decision will cost the government three dollars in lost revenue for every dollar they claim it will “save”, and will devastate the industry. The reality is that revenue from the horse-racing partnership has been steady, and in most years, shown a slight increase, today generating roughly $1.1 billion in revenue for the government. In place of this lost revenue, the government has proposed building more casinos, an area which has been showing significantly decreased revenue for the government in recent years.
Horse-racing and breeding are major components of the agricultural sector of our economy, employing 60,000 people across the province, including hundreds here in Northumberland and Quinte West. To date, I have received over 3,000 e-mails, letters and phone calls asking for my support in the fight to get the government to reverse this decision. I must defend the businesses and individuals in this riding who will be affected by this devastating action and that is why I will be voting against the Budget Bill.
I’d also like to take a moment to mention my Private Member’s Bill, Bill 58, which aims to increase awareness and participation in organ donation in Ontario. If the law is passed, when you renew your health card or driver’s licence you’ll be required to fill out a form stating whether or not you consent to donate your organs after death. Every three days, a resident of Ontario dies waiting for an organ donation. A single donor can save up to eight lives. To join the two million Ontarians who have generously signed on to the registry, please go to www.BeADonor.ca.
Published in Northumberland Today, as 'Northumberland MPP Milligan explains decision to vote against Budget Bill'