Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 31, 2018
All three parties spending like drunks
During the last televised leaders’ debate, 19-year-old Martin Badger, a first-time voter from Burlington, posed an audience question to the three party leaders that’s probably troubling other Ontario voters.
How do you plan to pay for the additional services that you’re promising? Badger asked.
Unless you’re dipped, dyed and butt-branded in party colours, the answers weren’t exactly comforting. The reality is they’re all spending like old-time drunken sailors, tossing free programs and tax cuts around as if the election is an extended shore leave binge.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath kicked off by acknowledging that people across the province, including herself, are concerned about the accumulated debt, now pegged at about $325 billion and rising.
To help pay for her promises, which include drug coverage for everyone, lower electricity rates, hiring 4,500 new nurses and getting rid of “hallway medicine,” Horwath said she’s “going to ask” the richest people and corporations to pay a “little more” in taxes.
What Horwath didn’t specifically mention is she also plans to borrow $25 billion to pay for these and other elections promises. Oh, yes, and then she’ll balance the books and stop deficit spending. Once that’s done, Horwath previously told The Spectator, the New Democrats “will take any surpluses … and apply them to the debt.”
For his part, Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford basically repeated what he’s been saying before the campaign began. He intends to pay for his promises by finding four cents of savings on every dollar spent by the province and by bringing in outside auditors to find more “efficiencies.”
That’s a tall order, particularly since the platform-free Ford is promising to cut hydro rates, lower gas prices and taxes, create 15,000 new long-term care beds and invest almost $2 billion in various health and housing services, which, of course, means less revenue and more expenses. He also intends to run a deficit for at least the first year.
Liberal promises include more money for hospitals, more free tuition for post-secondary students, free preschool child care, and free prescription drugs for children, young adults and seniors. In total, it amounts to more than $20 billion of new deficit spending. Still, in a woebegone gesture to fiscal responsibility, Wynne also promises to introduce legislation directing budget surpluses be used to pay down the $325 billion debt. (Continued: Andrew Dreschel, Hamilton Spectator)