MPP John Vanthof wants information before he votes on the 2013 Ontario budget.

MPP needs more budget details for his support

NIPISSING – He doesn’t yet know how he will vote, only that he will, says Timiskaming/Cochrane New Democrat MPP John Vanthof of the new provincial budget that was presented in Queen’s Park last week.

Vanthof says his party needs to see more details and specific action plans before it decides whether or not to support the minority government Liberals under Kathleen Wynne. The provincial budget passed last year after NDP party members chose not to vote.

“We are very leery of taking the Liberals at their at their word when they say ‘Trust us.’ We want to see the specifics of what they are really doing,” said Vanthof.

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli says deciding to vote against the budget was an easy decision.

“The government has been lying to the people,” said Fedeli, pointing to the recently revealed costs of canceled gas-powered electricity plants in Oakville and Mississauga that are much higher than ever reported by the government.

Fedeli says the big differences in the government’s estimates and the audited figures are reason enough for the government to fall and a new election to be held, but added he believes the NDP won’t let that happen.

“How can the NDP call (the Liberals) corrupt in the morning and then prop them up in the afternoon?” asked Fedeli.

Vanthof says the budget does contain at least the appearance of suggestions from his party.

“We made some pretty specific asks that we thought were pretty doable, respectful, responsible and were actually going to save the Ontario taxpayers some money,” said Vanthof.

For example, he says, his party wanted to institute a guarantee of home care service within five days of being registered for it.

“We costed it out at $30 million to do. The government took it and threw $235 million at it with no guarantee, so we’ve really got to see what their plan is,” said Vanthof.

Both Vanthof and Fedeli said they were disappointed by what they didn’t find in the budget regarding the Ring of Fire development in the James Bay lowlands.

“There wasn’t even a mention in the speech about the Ring of Fire,” said Fedeli, “…That tells us they have given up on it… It should be front and centre. The Ring of Fire has the potential to be Ontario’s oil sands.”

On Ontario Northland, the language of the budget was very vague, with no mention of the $265 million the Liberals claimed would be saved in the last budget.

Specific to Northern Ontario is a new $100 million fund for rural and northern infrastructure. Details about how the funds will be delivered have not yet been released, though Premier Kathleen Wynne said under her the fund would be ongoing.

Parry Sound/Muskoka MPP Norm Miller gave the funding its due, but had reservations.

“I’m happy to see money coming to rural areas for roads and bridges,” he said. “Too often the focus is just Toronto and urban areas.”

But when it comes to the numbers in the budget, Miller said he has questions about how they will add up.

‘I’m concerned the government is continuing its old ways of living beyond their means,” he said. “If you look at their plan in the budget as to when we’ll actually be in balance, according to their plan – which would be 2017/18 – we’re actually going to add another $42 billion dollars of debt to the province.”

Story by Rob Learn           [email protected]