The Liberal Party in Ontario has been in power for over a decade. Most governments regardless of party get a little bit too comfy in their positions to actually govern and show up for work when called upon. In the last election, the people of Ontario rejected the far right position of austerity (many still have the Mike Harris nightmare cutbacks), and the far left NDP (as a result of Bob Rae’s spending spree on social services in the 90s). The people of Ontario elected the Liberal platform with the expectation that money would be spent wisely by the province to help boost Ontario’s economy and social services. It seems the Liberals are starting to get a reputation for a lack of accountability of public funds, that is contributing to the overall provincial debt.
The Ontario Auditor General has come out with her annual report this month, and she has found virtually no accountability on tax payer’s funds with public services and policy. Some examples in the report include a situation in 2004 when then Premier Dalton McGuinty brought in legislation that allowed tax payers money to be spent on businesses in the province to help with job creation which is still in effect today. The auditor general recently found $1.4 billion unaccounted for in corporate welfare in the past decade this policy has been in effect.
Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk looked extensively at Ministry of Economic Development grants given to businesses over the past decade, and found most were handed to big corporations who could have just banked the money. Lysyk stated in her 2015 annual report she found the Ministry “has not attempted to measure whether the $1.4 billion it has provided to Ontario businesses since 2004 actually strengthened the economy.”
Lysyk also found that Ontario Hydro-One consumers paid $37 billion over the actual market value for their electricity. No wonder why the Liberals were so steadfast on selling Hyrdo One, the provinces publicly funded electricity utility. The entity owes Ontario tax payers $37 billion. I wonder how that debt is going to be settled.
In a very bizarre twist to all of this ahead of the holidays, Deb Matthews Ontario’s Treasury Secretary (who is in charge of distributing tax payers funds to provincial services and ministries) stated she wants Ontarians to help bring down the debt by donating their tax refunds to the province in 2016. Say what?
The lack of accountability of tax payer’s money doesn’t seem to stop at the Ministry of Economic Development. From the looks of it; this goes right up to Matthew’s office door as a result of her recent comments. If one were to follow the logic of all of this (if there is any to report), it points to a situation where there seems to be a lack of accountability throughout most provincial ministries, with a tone deaf government.
Where there is a lack of accountability there’s usually abuse of funds. In my opinion, Wynne needs to stop throwing money around, and provide those that voted for her policy that is based on transparency and accountability with her ministries. Progressive policies are based on balance, and that policy and money allotted to government programs actually get to where they are needed. Balance is disrupted when there is no accountability. Broad independent probes of provincial ministries may be needed to help curb abusive spending patterns, and help pay down the provinces debt. I think that’s what most were expecting Wynne to commit to last election. Until we see this; Matthew’s shouldn’t be asking the people of Ontario to donate anything.