Wealth transfer in budget, “biggest unreported story in Ontario”: Smokey Thomas

 “All that infrastructure will be built using public-private partnerships, which are essentially cash machines for construction companies, corporate lawyers, and Bay Street financiers.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

Toronto (29 Feb. 2016) — The 2016 Ontario Budget continues a massive multi-year transfer of wealth that is “the biggest unreported story in Ontario,” says the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).

Ontario budget contains more cuts and privatization of public services

“Liberal budgets since the recession have focused on cutting public services and pouring money into privatized infrastructure projects,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said after the budget was introduced on February 25. “This budget is no different. The cuts continue. The privatization continues. A Niagara Falls of money is pouring out of government and into the private sector.”

Program spending in Ontario has plunged from 17.9 per cent of GDP in 2009-2010 to 16.2 per cent today, the budget states. The difference equals $13.2 billion a year — a number that will climb as program spending’s share of GDP drops to 15 per cent by 2018-2019.

“The $137 billion the Liberals plan to spend on physical infrastructure over the next 10 years will all be paid for by sales of public assets and cuts to services for people,” Thomas said. “All that infrastructure will be built using public-private partnerships, which are essentially cash machines for construction companies, corporate lawyers, and Bay Street financiers.”

The budget contains other wealth transfers as well, he said.

Wynne's budget helps corporations and developers at the public's expense

“By moving billions out of the female-dominated public sector and into the 88 percent male construction sector, Kathleen Wynne is widening the gender-wage gap,” he said. “By selling beer and wine in grocery stores, she is moving alcohol profits from public coffers to grocery chain profits. By making us all pay more to drive to work while giving corporate polluters a free ride, she’s fighting climate change on the backs of those who can least afford it.

“Ed Clark wrote every page of this budget,” he said, referring to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s ex-banker adviser. “What we needed was a budget in which people matter more than bankers. What we needed was a budget written by Bernie Sanders.”

Modest spending increases in the budget for some public services are paid for by cuts to others, Thomas said. The spending plan includes $800 million in as-yet-unidentified spending cuts. It also aims to continue wage restraint across the provincial public sector.

NUPGE 

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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