When you're a candidate, you get many requests for commitments on future expenditures. Most (if not all) of these requests are for worthy projects.
I can understand that groups would like to have this kind of promise. They're trying to get funding for their issue anywhere they can get it.
I am reluctant to commit to any one future expenditure, as worthy as these projects are.
I feel that it is perfectly acceptable for governments to spend money on social programs, especially ones that are designed for the destitute or to help a very large population.
However, when the money is budgeted, it should be actually based on the amount of money that is available.
Right now, Ontario pays about 9 billion dollars in interest on the debt of approximately 157 billion, up by about 2 billion since the last year.
That's nine billion dollars that is taken from the tax payer and given to creditors, which consists largely of bondholders. And if the debt grows, the interest is bound to grow, too.
That strikes me as a colossal waste of money, and contrary to the purpose of government-- which isn't to increase the profit of investors.
You take one group's money and give it to another. That's nine billion dollars that could be used for something else (or kept by the taxpayer, what a thought!).
Rather than try to find more ways to spend taxpayer money, I think the government should get its fiscal house in order.
I think we should implement a plan to pay off the debt, and then find a way to ease the tax burden, so that in the future, if the Ontario government makes the decision to start a new social program or increase an expenditure, it can do it with money it has rather than through deficits. I think going into debt is fine for an extraordinary reason, i.e. a natural disaster. But that shouldn't be the regular course of things. Deficit and debt limits our ability to manoeuvre financially, and creates an unacceptable tax burden on taxpayers. We're basically taking money from the taxpayer to make someone else a profit, and often on wasteful spending, or expenditures that do not have a long term value or that produce economic growth.
And then when there is a perceived shortfall, such as was the case in 2004, additional taxes, such as the Health Premium, are exacted. Our tax burden is high enough. We shouldn't be asking the taxpayer to contribute any more.
So, to all the groups who ask for my commitment, I don't feel that it would be wise to promise increased funding. Perhaps in the future, when government finances are in order, it would be feasible (and fair) to look for increased spending.
I don't think it's fair to the taxpayer to operate in this manner.
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