The wealthy will take a bath so average Ontarians won’t have to wallow through a spring election. “We will not be plunging this province into an election,” New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath said, after cutting a last-minute, budget-saving deal with Premier Dalton McGuinty.
“We’re showing the people of this province that we’re willing to do everything we can to try to make a minority work. But we’re also showing them the sort of Ontario that we want to build.” The deal ensures McGuinty’s seven-month-old minority government will survive a crucial vote on the budget Tuesday.
The new tax, which could be in place by July 1, will slap a two-percentage point increase on income over $500,000 and raise $470 million a year. Only 23,000 Ontarians make enough to pay the tax but on average they’ll shell out $19,000 each.
Horwath had wanted the revenue from the surtax to pay for new spending on cheaper home heating bills, help for day cares and health care but the premier had different ideas.“The NDP want a tax on the rich. We want to reduce the deficit,” McGuinty said. “So under the deal discussed with Ms. Horwath a short time ago, the richest Ontarians — those earning more than $500,000 a year — will be asked to pay a 2% surtax which would generate $470 million next year, all of which will go into reducing the deficit.”
The surtax will expire when the deficit — now $15 billion — is reduced to zero, McGuinty said.
It’s not the only concession Horwath was able to wring out of McGuinty in exchange for saving his government’s skin.
She won small increases for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability benefits, a one-time $20 million for northern hospitals and a vague commitment to help the horse racing industry wean itself off slot machine revenues.
“We said we’re open to suggestions to improve our plan — not just because it’s necessary to do so in a minority parliament but because I think it’s important to be open to good ideas wherever they may come from,” McGuinty said.
Left fuming on the sidelines was Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, who predicted last fall as the election drew close that Liberals propped up by New Democrats would inevitably raise taxes.
“I would like to say I am surprised by this deal but I’m not,” Hudak said in a statement. “The choice made by the Premier today leads us further down the same failed path we have been on for the last eight years.
“This is the path of more spending, more taxing, and no plan to create a better climate for private sector jobs. It tinkers with small change when what we need is big change.”
The NDP and the Liberals play give and take:
- Andrea Horwath asked for tax on $500,000-plus earners to pay for more health care
- Dalton McGuinty gave her tax on rich for five years to pay down deficit
- Horwath asked for 1% increase in Ontario Disability Support Program benefits
- McGuinty gave her 1% ODSP and Ontario Works benefit increases
- Horwath asked for more money to secure child care spaces
- McGuinty gave her $90 million, $68 million and $84 million over three years
- Horwath asked for an 8% HST cut on home heating
- McGuinty said no, and Horwath dropped it
- Horwath asked for help for horseracing industry
- McGuinty provided vague promise of transition support
- Horwath asked for $100 million in health care funding
- McGuinty offered $20 million to support Northern Ontario hospitals
- Horwath asked for $418,000 annual cap on public CEO salaries
- McGuinty said no to CEO pay cap.
(dear readers, I have provided this article, written by Jonathon Jenkins, Toronto Sun, Queen's Park Bureau, Monday, April 23, 2012 verbatim about the end of the McGuinty dynasty, as we know it. To save his minority, has McGuinty turned his back on his political contributors when he agreed to Horwath's millionaire's surtax? Will major political donators cut off the 'cash spigot' now that McGuinty has done what he said he wouldn't do? Cut off from funds, the Liberals could be in mortal danger of following their Federal brethren into obscurity! Could this be Horwath's plan?)