The day after announcing her new cabinet, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her new majority government are already under fire from opposition MPPs.
“The new cabinet announced at Queen’s Park today signals that tax hikes are imminent in Ontario,” says Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker.
Walker says the splitting of the Ministry of Finance into two, one being Revenue and the other to manage the controversial Retirement Pension Plan, means the government will now have “one minister to collect new taxes and another minister to spend them.”
“This is the clearest indication yet that the government’s tax-and-spend policies will continue under the new majority rule, including the creation of the controversial pension plan, which will result in new payroll taxes of roughly $780 on both workers and businesses,” Walker says. “I’m disappointed to see the Liberals march on with this agenda as it’s not supported by workers or employers in Bruce-Grey and across the province.”
Walker says he has already fired off a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne to voice the concerns he heard at the door during the provincial election and to encourage her to rethink the pension tax hike, which threatens more job losses here in Bruce-Grey.
“Many local business owners told me this might be the final nail that forces them out of business, as they simply cannot afford to take another tax hit,” he says. “Many local workers expressed the same concern. With the rising cost of living, people just can’t afford now to put away the extra hundred dollars into a pension plan every month.”
In addition to hearing concerns about the tax hikes on workers and employers, Walker says he also heard as much about the hydro billing errors and rate hikes, wind turbines and the Green Energy Act, the heavy burden of regulations at the College of Trades and the new trades taxes, as well as the need for a more accountable and trustworthy government.
“Resoundingly, people are still seeking retribution for the billions wasted on the gas plants, eHealth and Ornge,” he says, adding that his party remains in support of a judicial inquiry into the gas plant scandal.
Walker also says it was a poor choice for the Premier to go for the status quo on the Energy file.
“To see her reappoint the same minister (Bob Chiarelli) who presided over the unfolding of the gas plant scandal, shredding of emails, a 40 per cent rate hike and Hydro One billing problems and shoddy customer service is a slap in the face for all of us,” says Walker.
He says his constituency office continued to receive complaints throughout the 40-day-long election from ratepayers about major billing errors, some of whose hydro bills amounted to a whopping $4,000 to $8,000 range.
“Energy is one portfolio where Wynne could have and should have made meaningful changes. Energy rates impact everybody, from homeowners and seniors citizens to businesses and our economy overall,” Walker says. “That she didn’t choose to hold anyone to account for all the mismanagement on the energy file is a show of poor leadership.”
Walker says he’s also penned letters to the new ministers, reiterating his support for key local projects, namely the promised new Markdale Hospital and the new Marine Emergency Duties Training facility at Georgian College in Owen Sound.
“Moving forward, I will be watching these files very closely and holding the ministers to account for the things they should be doing differently.”
Walker returns to Queen’s Park on July 2nd when the Liberal government will deliver a Throne Speech and then its $130.5-Billion budget.