We currently have a $2 billion budget deficit in this province. We are balancing our books by selling public assets, which is inherently unsustainable and therefore constitutes a deficit. What will you do to eliminate this deficit if elected? How important is a truly balanced budget to you compared to spending money or reducing taxes in an effort to stimulate the economy? David Calder Listowel, On
The NDP answer:
The NDP's four-year program is costed out and certified by the respected economic consulting firm Infometrica Limited. The NDP would run small surpluses in all four years. The NDP is the only party that will not have to sell off major assets because we are willing to make tax changes that would affect just three per cent of the population with individual incomes of more than $100,000 a year. These tax changes will apply to people and corporations who can afford them. Ninety seven per cent of Ontarians will not pay a penny more in income tax under the NDP's publicpower program, outlined in detail at www.publicpower.ca
The Progressive Conservative answer:
Our Party has turned the finances of the Ontario government around. In 1995, Ontario faced a deficit of $11.3 billion and suffered a million dollars an hour in increasing debt.
In 2003, we have brought in our FIFTH balanced budget in a row (for the first time in nearly a hundred years) and have made significant payments along the way to reduce the province's debt and maintain our credit rating. That said, this year has been difficult. With the impact of SARS, BSE (mad cow disease), a slowing in the overall North American Economy and the blackout, we are faced with increasing financial challenges and an abandonment by the Federal government to provide disaster relief to Ontario.
Nevertheless we are committed to balancing the budget and it will be achieved. We will do so by finding efficiencies within government spending while maintaining priority services like health care, education and environmental protection.
We will also get government out of businesses that it doesn't need to be in such as banking and owning highway land for road side service centers. We will then apply this money to building new schools, hospitals and providing other essential services.
Managing the challenges of keeping our economy strong is an every day job for government. In 8 years we have put Ontario ahead of all other neighboring jurisidictions in economic growth and job creation. We have done so by stimulating growth through lower taxes. To return to the era of high taxation, as promised by the Liberals, will only reduce our province's potential and take us back to a time we'd all just as soon forget.
The Liberal answer:
A McGuinty government will balance the budget. I signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, putting in writing that we will not run a deficit. We put a lot of work into our economic plan to ensure that while we balance the budget, we also will hold the line on taxes, enhance essential public services and set money aside for a rainy day. We worked out the cost of achieving all this in detail and submitted our plan to independent experts, including senior economists and a forensic accountantall of whom verified our numbers.
We will pay for our commitments by canceling more than $3.2 billion in Tory tax giveaways to corporations and private schools, plus revenues from existing taxes and eliminating Tory waste, such as partisan advertising and hiring costly consultants. Our program will deliver balanced budgets in all four years of a McGuinty government's mandate as well as increased surpluses that can be used to invest in Ontario's future.