Friday, March 24, 2006

Dividing up the spoils

Yesterday, the Ontario Liberals officially announced their spending agenda for the next five years or so. Some highlights from the trough fest:

  • $159 billion: the debt -- the total of all budget shortfalls in its history -- Ontario will be running by the end of the 2006-07 budget year, up $500 million from last year.
  • $87.1 billion: Total spending in the budget for the year ahead.
  • $83.9 billion: Total revenue, up $2.25 billion over last year thanks to stronger-than-expected economy.
  • $35.4 billion: Total health care spending, which will eat up about 41 cents out of every dollar Queen's Park spends. Overall health spending up $1.9 billion over last year.
  • $11.2 billion: Total spending on schools, up $424 million. College and university spending rises by another $500 million.
  • $9.4 billion: The amount taxpayers will spend in interest charges on Ontario's red ink in the year ahead.
  • $2.4 billion: Projected budget deficit, or shortfall, for 2006-07; includes $1 billion contingency fund.
  • $6 million: Budget spending for libraries and literacy programs on First Nations reserves.
The big winner was the city of Toronto, which is to receive most of the $1.2 billion reserved for infrastructure spending. Taxpayers across the province will be paying for improvements to Toronto roads, bridges and public transit.

Nor was the art community left out. The province is spending your beer and diaper money on art:
The Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and other art institutions will get nearly $50 million from the province to support future projects and exhibits, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said yesterday as he tabled his budget.

And film production houses will see their 18-per-cent tax credit extended to March 2007, a promise the Ontario government made earlier this year, Duncan said.

"One of the many success stories of Ontario's diverse economy is the entertainment and creative cluster," Duncan said. "This cluster has great potential to grow and create jobs and it boosts economic growth by attracting tourists, businesses and investors."

The Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum and the National Ballet School were among a half-dozen institutions -- all of them based in Toronto -- slated to receive $49 million over three years, Duncan pledged.

[..] The budget also establishes an Entertainment and Creative Cluster Partnerships Fund of $7.5 million over the next three years for skills development, product development and marketing.

A tax credit for smaller digital media businesses will increase to 30 per cent from 20 per cent.
Anyone who hopes to have a future for themselves and their families in this province should familiarize themselves with the Freedom Party of Ontario. The Freedom Party already has their 2007 election platform in place and they are currently running candidates in the three ridings holding by-elections on March 30.

Jurgen Vollrath is running in Nepean-Carleton, Franz Cauchi in Toronto-Danforth and leader, Paul McKeever in Whitby-Ajax.

Paul McKeever is the only male candidate running in his riding. I urge all women eligible to cast a vote to consider individual freedom before gender equality.