Premier Doug Ford delivers a very Liberal(?) budget

Quite a few long-in-the-tooth Tory supporters were left scratching their heads following this past week’s release of the proposed 2022 Ontario budget by the Progressive Conservative government. Ontario’s Finance Minister, Peter Bethlenfalvy delivered his government’s 2022 budget containing a swath of new spending, topping out at a whopping $198.6 billion in spending and a deficit of $19.9 billion—this despite the province’s fiscal accountability office, an independent officer of the legislature, forecasting the province could balance the books and end the red ink in 2023-24 and even run a budget surplus of $7.1 billion by 2026-27.

What gives? Isn’t this the forte of the Tory menace, those tax and spend Liberals? Luckily, the rebounding Ontario economy seems to be coming back gangbusters, allowing for some pre-election largesse sure to titillate the electors.

Oh wait, that’s right! There is an election brewing. In fact, by the time this paper is in our readers’ hands an election call is anticipated. This document is not a budget, per se, it is an election platform, although the Progressive Conservatives have vowed it would return it whole following the ballot counting on June 2.

There is plenty in this budget to woo Premier Ford’s darlings—drivers—with many a highway expansion and even a new, albeit controversial one, the 413. The budget also cites “broadening” Highway 69—conspicuously avoiding the term “four-laning.” Well, perhaps not so Liberal a budget given the provincial Liberals were always promising to move that project forward.

There are some welcome bits in there for seniors as well, with a tax credit for seniors over 70 topping out at $6,000. Now who is it who faithfully votes?

Yes folks, it is definitely election days ahead and Mr. Ford is riding a fairly decent lead in the polls heading into the lists. We could go on, but this is an editorial, not a news item.

Unfortunately, the sad truth of the matter is that most voters don’t pay much attention to provincial elections, and mores the pity there, because it is the province that governs most of those items that impact our daily lives—especially through those darkest days of the pandemic.

Health services? It’s the province. Social services? It’s the province (although some of that is fobbed on the property taxpayers). Provincial highways? It’s the province. LCBO? It’s the province. Buck a beer? Well, you get the picture. All those health directives that have miraculously evaporated in time for the election, almost all are the purview of the province.

The point of all this? It would well behoove the electors of this province to look a little closer at who will be representing their interests in Queen’s Park after June 2. It is said that we get the government we deserve—let’s just make sure we deserve better this time around with a truly considered ballot choice.

The Expositor will be hosting an all-candidates’ meeting, in person once again, at Manitoulin Secondary School on Wednesday, May 18 starting at 7 pm.