Loading articles...

Local MPPs react to the 2016 provincial budget

Last Updated Feb 26, 2016 at 7:48 am EDT

File photo of Finance Minister Charles Sousa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

The Finance Minister at Queen’s Park unveils a provincial budget that aims at helping the environment by combating greenhouse gases and helping students of low income families go to college and university for free.

As usual, the cost of some things is going up. That includes cigarettes, wine, home heating and the price at the pump; but that last increase is offset by the elimination of the drive clean test fee.

Conservative MPP from Kitchener-Conestoga Michael Harris says those increases are going to hurt your pocketbook.

“Life will be harder under the Liberals today with the announcement of the budget, just about everything, costs are going to increase,” says Harris.

“This budget will not address these key issues. They’ve downgraded their own estimations around job projections down by 60-thousand,” says NDP Finance Critic and Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife. “Given the low dollar, this was a bit of a shock for us.”

“We see some systemic issues and problems that were reported to us, and to this government and to this Finance Minister, and the solutions are not contained within this budget. It was flawed process, and now we have a flawed budget,” says Fife.

Liberal MPP for Kitchener-Centre, Daiene Vernile says the budget outlines exactly where the Liberals are heading.

“We are right on target with our ability to manage things the way they are,” says Vernile. “We’re looking at balancing our budget by 2017-2018. This is what we promised in our 2014 campaign, but we’re actually ahead of those targets.”

Fife says reaching that goal is going to come with a price.

“This government is burning the furniture to heat the house on the deficit. They’re trying to reach the 2017-2018 deadline, but they’re doing so in the most irresponsible way.”

Harris says the budget failed to have a detailed plan to improve transit.

“We were looking for some firm commitments that would spell-out previous Liberal promises on Two-Way-All-Day GO but unfortunately the Liberals provided no clarity on their promises,” says Harris.

Fife agrees saying the budget is quite silent on Two-Way All-Day GO, with the exception of additional trips on the weekends.

“I’m sure some people will welcome a trip on the GO Train into Toronto, when they have two hours and 20 minutes to go one way,” says Fife. “But what the business communities, the Universities, and the municipalities have asked for – and they’ve made a compelling business case for this, is an increased investment to ensure people can, one, get from Toronto into Kitchener-Waterloo in the morning, and then also have reliable and fast train service between Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto.”

Vernile disagrees.

“Our transportation funding is going to include the build out to Kitchener on the Kitchener line for All-Day Two-Way GO service, so the province is very committed to allocating funds to building this.”

“I’m really surprised and very impressed with how many mentions there are in this budget to Kitchener and to Waterloo Region. We realize5that we have a super corridor between the region and Toronto and the province realizes this too, and this is why they’re investing in our region’s in so many different areas.”

University of Waterloo is receiving a huge chunk of change to aid in manufacturing efforts.

They’re one of three Ontario universities receiving a total of $35 million over the next 5 years as part of a $50 million project aimed at combining existing strengths in the heart of Ontario’s manufacturing region to create an Advanced Manufacturing Consortium.