Originally published on August 14, 2023.
QUEEN'S PARK - In response to Ontario's Finance Minister's recent release of the 2023-24 First Quarter Fiscal Update, NDP MPP Catherine Fife (Waterloo), Official Opposition Finance Critic, emphasized that the report highlights the Conservative government's continued neglect of everyday Ontarians.
"Today's financial update from Minister Bethlenfalvy only serves to underline the troubling reality that this Conservative government remains severely out of touch with the everyday challenges Ontarians face," said Fife. "It has never been more expensive to afford groceries, rent, mortgage, or any household expense here in Ontario. But the only people this government is getting it done for are their ultra-wealthy donors."
The Financial Accountability Office (FAO) has revealed that the government is sitting on a staggering $22.6 billion surplus. Yet, they have failed to hear the calls from the Ontario NDP to invest these funds where they are desperately needed.
"The Ford government continues to open the door to ultra-wealthy developers in the name of solving the housing crisis and make deep cuts to essential public services such as healthcare and education. Minister Bethlenfalvy, responsible for managing our finances, has failed to protect his constituents from questionable management of public resources, as evidenced by recent backroom deals with developers. His lack of action raises serious concerns about his integrity and commitment to his community's well-being. The conservatives can't be trusted to protect what matters most."
- The largest and most valuable pieces of land removed from the Greenbelt, as reflected in last week’s Auditor General’s report is in the Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve, located in Minister Bethenfalvy’s riding of Pickering – Uxbridge
- According to the Auditor General’s report, this land has enriched ultra-wealthy developer Silvio DeGasperis by more than $6 billion
- Q1 report failed to include projected housing starts, despite including other statistics from Table 2.6 from the 2023 budget (page 117). That table showed projected housing starts trending downward (from 96,100 homes in 2022 to a projected 80,300 in 2023 and 79,300 in 2024 after the Greenbelt lands were given away to developers)
- The government made no changes to its planned 2023-24 spending for Emergency Forest Firefighting (see Table 5) from the $135 million shown in the 2023-24 budget, despite this year’s historic fires. The difference in planned spending in 2023-24 compared to 2021-22 is equivalent to a 67% cut, as the NDP has been repeatedly pointing out.
- The government is claiming no changes to the deficit/surplus, despite the FAO’s recent report projecting a modest surplus, thanks to $7.2 billion in below-planned spending (eg: cuts), including $1.7 billion in below-planned spending on health. $0.2 billion in net increased planned expenses is offset by an equal increase in revenues from the Government of Canada.