Embracing our Democracy, Strengthening our Public Services
The global economy has been through a period of economic instability and job loss as severe as any since the Great Depression. Banks have been lending less, companies are producing less, and consumers are spending less. Polarization between the rich and poor is growing. As the middle class shrinks, the numbers of those at the lower end of the income scale grows. Even while the province, according to some indicators, is technically climbing out of recession, the unemployment rate continues to rise.
Some say that the number one priority should be to fight the higher-than-projected deficit, even if it means a fire sale of valuable public assets such as Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, Ontario Lottery and Gaming and the LCBO. However, we learned in the mid-1990s that cutting the deficit on the backs of public sector workers such as nurses and public services and an agenda of deregulation and privatization leads to higher costs to the public, social divisiveness and greater hardship. Governing in a fiscally responsible way is imperative, but not at the expense of strong public services, social infrastructure and Crown Corporations that are owned by the public and operated in the public interest.
This period of ongoing economic uncertainty and high unemployment is exactly the time when bold leadership is needed to continue to stimulate the economy while reducing the deficit by investing in Ontario’s people and Ontario’s future.
Investing in infrastructure creates good jobs with decent wages, stimulates spending in local economies, and builds capacity that will sustain vibrant communities. This includes strengthening the often-neglected infrastructure of health care, education, early learning and child care. Increasing the minimum wage and substantially increasing social assistance will lift people out of poverty and allow them to spend more money locally. Repairing substandard public housing, retrofitting homes for energy efficiency and building new affordable housing will create direct and spin-off jobs while providing a basic human right to shelter. As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has calculated, investing $1 billion to boost the incomes of the poor, who spend everything they earn, would raise gross domestic product by almost $900 million and create 7,000 jobs. The same $1 billion in personal tax cuts would increase the GDP by only $720 million. Investing in our people and our health makes good economic sense as well as being good social policy.
Trade Deals Not in Public Interest
- Stop all negotiations leading to comprehensive trade agreements unless: • All negotiations are carried out transparently and subject to public consultation, engagement and scrutiny; • Any agreement includes strong protections for health care, public education, the environment, human rights and labour standards in both existing and new policies and programs; and, • An agreement does not restrict the ability of governments – federal, provincial and municipal – to regulate or create, implement and sustain programs in the public interest.
- Specifically reject any comprehensive agreement with the European Union that would restrict Canada’s right to keep public control of vital services such as health care and water.
- Put ratification of the Ontario-Quebec Trade and Cooperation Agreement on hold pending full public consultation on the impact of the agreement on the provinces’ capacity to address social, economic and environmental needs in the public interest.
- Oppose the strengthening of the pan-Canadian Agreement on Internal Trade that would further deregulate provincial policies and threaten public services.