Queen’s Park monthly report – Jim McDonell

QUEEN’S PARK – If any government had to pick two issues to manage well, above all others, taxpayers’ money and integrity would make the shortlist in my opinion. In April, the Legislature was confronted with a government that, having run its course over 15 years, I believe has lost track of both.

Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk continued to call the government out on their bad accounting. The scale of the discrepancies between the Auditor’s estimates, which the Progressive Conservative opposition trusts; and those of the government, which we take skeptically, is immense. The government must table a report on the state of the Province’s finances before an election and allow the Auditor-General sufficient time to review it. The Auditor-General said the government’s figures are “not a reasonable presentation of Ontario’s finances.”

The government claimed a $6.7 billion deficit in their recent budget over each of the next three years. According to the Auditor-General, it will range between $11.7 and $12.5 billion. Our provincial debt will rise above $400 billion if the government maintains its present course, a whopping 40% of GDP. We believe two accounting tricks were used to arrive at the low-balled deficit estimates.

First, the debt arising from the government’s temporary hydro rate reduction plan has been placed with OPG’s and hidden from the government’s balance sheet.

Secondly, revenues and assets in certain public pension plans are added to the government’s figures to make the numbers look better. This is pensioners’ money and cannot be accessed and spent by the government for its purposes!

This is my last monthly column before the June 7th general election as the writ is to be called on May 9th. I wish all of you, including candidates and residents, a very active, productive, passionate, and informative campaign.