Visiting campus, Scarborough MPP criticizes conservatives’ economic outlook report

Province says plan creates affordability, avoids tax hike

Mitzie Hunter, MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood.

Former Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter said provincial cuts have a price in a visit to campus on Monday with former Kingston MPP Sophia Kiwala.

Hunter, MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood, was responding to the Fall Economic Outlook released by the Ford government on Nov. 15. The statement featured a $500 million deficit cut and a committment to lowering Ontario’s debt to $14.5 billion. 

The Ford government also cut $3.2 billion to services and programs in Ontario and implemented a hiring freeze across public services.

In a press release issued on Nov. 15, the Province stated, “the plan does not raise taxes, makes life more affordable for people, and safeguards vital public services and programs they rely on every day.” 

Hunter called the economic outlook “very disappointing” in an interview with The Journal.

“They’re using an inflated deficit they’ve actually created, it’s now at $14.5 billion, as an excuse and a cover for very deep cuts to education programs and health care programs that people in Kingston really rely on,” Hunter said.  

According to Hunter, the Ford government’s plans to decrease the province’s deficit by cutting investments to programs and services will slow down the economy and job growth. 

“I know for students at Queen’s, that’s not news they want to hear,” she said. “They want to hear our province is growing and there are opportunities for them, whether it’s in health care or education or in business or the environment.”

In their press release, the Ford government stated the decrease is a result of reduced spending, not front line services, which include policing, corrections and fire services. 

The utlook revealed a $2.7 billion loss in revenue, which Hunter believes is linked to the government’s decision to cut programs like Cap-and-Trade, a program intended to reduce carbon emissions in Ontario. 

The program’s cancellation will cost the government billions in revenues, which could have been invested in clean technologies and industries, according to Hunter. 

“If you’re going to be cutting programs, you’re going to be reducing revenues,” she said. “No one is getting ahead under this administration.” 

In the press release, the Ford government stated the cap-and-trade tax cut would give “individuals, families and businesses important tax relief.”  

Hunter, meanwhile, expressed concern over a lack of job opportunities following post-secondary graduation. 

“It’s going to be harder for our young people coming out of universities and colleges to find employment and to access the careers they’ve studied for,” she said. 

Citing the Liberal government’s investment in free tuition for post-secondary students in Ontario, she also took issue with the Ford government’s plans for investments in the province’s colleges and universities, like their cancellation of funding campus projects. 

The Ford government recently cancelled funding for three new Ontario campuses last October, claiming the province’s $15 billion-dollar deficit created “new fiscal restraints,” leaving the Ministry financially unable to support the projects. 

To protect universities from further investment losses, Hunter urged young Ontarians to become more involved in politics.

“University students have a strong voice and can become politically active and politically engaged, making sure this province reflects the outcomes you want to see as young people,” she said.

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