Ontario debt clock a ticking time bomb
Ontario Debt Clock at Queen's Park on Aug. 28, 2013. (Sue-Ann Levy/Toronto Sun)
When the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and its Ontario debt clock rolled into Queen’s Park Wednesday on its final leg of a 28-day tour, the first thing that came to mind was a ticking timebomb.
The numbers are daunting indeed. The province’s debt is expected to reach $272 billion by the end of this year — meaning that each and every person in Ontario, including each newborn baby, owes $19,928.
It is growing by $1.3-million per hour — which is enough to hire five doctors or 20 nurses on the frontlines.
Candice Malcolm, Ontario director for the CTF says there are far too many similarities, sadly, between Ontario and the debt crisis in Europe and the bankuptcy in Detroit.
“A lot of Ontario’s problem stems from government entitlements, government wages which make up 50% of the money spent at Queen’s Park,” she says. “That’s what got Greece, what got Detroit as well.”
Tory finance critic Peter Shurman says if we as ordinary citizens made $80,000 a year and put $100,000 a year on our VISA cards — in other words outspent what we brought in as Ontario has done — we’d soon lose assets like our homes.
“We’re going to lose our house,” he said. “That’s how bad it is in Ontario.”
Let’s consider why Ontario is heading down the same road as Greece, Italy, Spain or Detroit.
The Dalton McGuinty/Kathleen Wynne governments have not only allowed the debt to grow by $114 billion over the past 10 years — and ignored the problem — but have refused to bring in austerity measures to deal with it.
They’ve talked a good game about the Drummond Report — which just last year provided them with a well-thought-out framework to achieve fiscal sustainability — but to date have refused to do the heavy lifting required to bring down the debt.
I know. I know. The Kathleen Wynne government does have a plan. Based on what I’ve discovered in recent weeks, their plan is to make so-called “efficiences” on the backs of the elderly and vulnerable while allowing their bloated, overpaid health, education, green energy and other government bureaucracies to continue to balloon out of control.
Somehow I don’t think that’s what Don Drummond had in mind in his thoughtful report.
There’s no doubt that the consistent factor in the fiscal downfall of Greece, Spain, Italy and Detroit has been the stranglehold of public sector unions and their refusal to make concessions.
We only have to look to how Wynne, while promising a wage freeze, pandered to the unions to buy labour peace and their support in the next general election.
Malcolm said in the seven months Wynne has been in office, she’s given three different unions — the OLG Woodbine, the LCBO and the elementary teachers union — lucrative buyouts and signing bonuses that were just fancy words for wage increases.
In Detroit, there was another factor – a corrupt group of politicians who used government for their own ends instead of delivering the public services they were mandated to do.
Can you imagine how many glucose strips for diabetics or physiotherapy sessions could be provided to keep seniors independent with the $585-million and counting blown on cancelling two gas plants to buy five Liberal seats in the 2011 election?
Malcolm says Wynne refuses to “face the facts.”
Asked by the media Wednesday why voters should support her in the next election given all the spending scandals, Wynne had the nerve to say that within the last seven months she and her tired cabal of has-beens have worked very hard to “improve the services” delivered to people and to make sure that both the education and health care systems continue to improve.
Then she told reporters she hasn’t smoked pot in 35 years.
She’s sure as heck got to be smoking something if she doesn’t think she and her party have made the province’s finances go to pot.
The sorry state of Ontario’s debt:
- Current debt: $257 billion
- Debt at end of 2013: $272.8 billion
- Debt owed by each Ontarian, including babies: $19,928
- Debt grows by: $978.6 million a month; $1.34-M per hour; $22,342 per minute; $372 per second
- Percentage of Ontario budget that goes to managment/union salaries: 50%