Editorial: The best laid plans?

Government spending and election promises are fickle things. Before the election began, Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford pledged that he would find four cents of savings for every dollar the government spends. Once the writ dropped, he offered a 20 per cent tax cut for people who earn between $42,900-86,800 per year.

Factoring these two promises into the current budget does not paint the full picture of the PC’s spending plan. In the 2018-19 Ontario Budget, the total expenses are projected at $158.5 billion. Removing the fixed $12.5 billion in debt servicing costs, Ontario’s expenses would be $146 billion. Ford’s plan, assuming the four percent savings could be found, would amount to a $5.84 billion reduction. This would peg Ontario’s expenses at $140.16 billion.

According to the PC’s, Ford’s 20 per cent middle class tax cut would cost $2.3 billion. If implemented, the cut would see total 2018-19 projected revenues drop from $152.5 billion to $150.2 billion. Adding back in the $12.5 billion debt costs, a Doug Ford-led government would run a deficit of $2.64 billion for 2018-19. This assumes the Wynne government’s budget numbers are accurate.

Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk does not agree with Wynne’s projections. In fact, in her pre-election update Lysyk said Ontario’s deficit is $11.7 billion, not Wynne’s $6.7 billion. If Lysyk is right, and Wynne is wrong; and if Ford is elected; these two election promises alone will see Ontario run a $7.64 billion deficit in 2018-19.

What does that mean for Ontarians if they support the PCs? Either more deficit financing, adding to the already growing $315 billion dollar provincial debt, or cuts. This is an incomplete picture of a plan.

By contrast, the NDP has its entire platform with financial costing completed for every promise. The party does propose some tax increases on high wage earners, property speculators and buyers of luxury cars: that is in their financial plan in their platform. Unfortunately that party projects to run a deficit between five and six billion over the next four years. But the NDP has provided a complete picture of its plan.

What voters need is that all parties who are serious about running the province, have fully costed platforms which paint the full picture of the government’s finances. Ontarians deserve that.