Ont. finance minister rejects claims he's already written 2016 budget

TORONTO -- Ontario's finance minister has rejected Opposition claims that he has already written the 2016 budget and that his public consultations on the fiscal plan are a sham and a farce.

See Full Article

Charles Sousa made a surprise public appearance Tuesday before the legislature's finance committee, which has been travelling the province holding pre-budget hearings, after at first insisting on a closed-door meeting with committee members.

The Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats both used their allotted time to lash out at Sousa over reports he plans to introduce the budget in early March, which they said means the government has already decided what will be in it and has no intention of listening to what the public wants.

"We all know it takes a long time to prepare and translate the budget, so frankly, that means this year's budget is most likely finished," PC MPP Julia Munro told Sousa.

"It is sad these costly hearings were a sham, simply an opportunity for the Liberals to make it appear they would listen to people across Ontario."

NDP finance critic Catherine Fife told Sousa she was concerned that he had already completed the budget even though people were still making presentations to the finance committee.

"It would be a shame if the budget were tabled before you incorporated the suggestions that the people of this province made in their submissions to this committee," she said.

But Sousa told the committee he was there to hear the feedback they had gathered from the public, and accused the Tories and NDP of playing partisan politics.

"I am here for the very purposes of trying to understand and hear from you the work that has been done," he said. "I haven't completed the budget. I mean we're in the process of proceeding to prepare it certainly."

Sousa declined to say exactly when he plans to introduce the provincial budget -- last year's was tabled near the end of April -- but said it would include feedback from the consultations that his ministry has held as well as the committee's findings.

"Keep in mind a lot of the work you're doing has already been forwarded," he told the committee. "The fact of the matter is I am here, and I thought it appropriate for us to have this dialogue. This hasn't happened in over 12 years."

The idea of selling beer in grocery stores came from last year's pre-budget hearings, and the government followed through on the idea in December, added Sousa.

But the Tories said beer was raised by just five presenters in last year's pre-budget consultations, and insisted the idea of expanding sales to grocery stores came after the government's secret deal with The Beer Store was exposed in December 2014.

In its 2016 pre-budget presentation, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union pointed out that Sousa has already rejected two of the most frequently submitted ideas in the government's online budget consultations: end public funding of Catholic schools and stop the sale of Hydro One.

"We'll see what we get this time around," Sousa said. "There have been a number of them, some a bit more eclectic than others, but that's OK because we want people to be engaged."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Inmate confesses to 90 killings; investigators corroborate 30

    World News CBC News
    A man convicted of three California murders and long suspected in numerous other deaths now claims he was involved in about 90 killings nationwide spanning nearly four decades, and investigators already have corroborated about a third of those, a Texas prosecutor said Thursday. Source
  • Nursing home staffer in Kingston, Ont., charged in thefts of wedding rings

    Canada News CTV News
    KINGSTON, Ont. -- A 26-year-old woman faces theft, fraud and other charges after police say several wedding rings were stolen from nursing home residents in Kingston, Ont. Kingston police say they were called to a local nursing home on Oct. Source
  • Canada resisting UN request to extend Mali mission: sources

    World News CBC News
    The Trudeau government is reportedly resisting a United Nations request to extend Canada's peacekeeping mission in Mali so medical evacuations can continue while replacements for Canada's personnel arrive. Canada has eight helicopters and 250 military members in the sprawling West African nation to rescue injured peacekeepers and transport troops and their equipment. Source
  • Brexit omnishambles throws British government into chaos

    World News CBC News
    Welcome to The National Today newsletter, which takes a closer look at what's happening around some of the day's most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday. Source
  • Indigenous Guardians program gets $5.7M in fed funding

    Canada News CBC News
    Ten First Nations communities from across B.C., along with 25 other Indigenous communities nationally, have been selected to receive funds for a new federally-funded environmental stewardship program. New act will boost Indigenous participation in B.C. environmental assessments Source
  • Indigenous Guardians program gets $5.7M in federal funding

    Canada News CBC News
    Ten First Nations communities from across B.C., along with 25 other Indigenous communities nationally, have been selected to receive funds for a new federally-funded environmental stewardship program. New act will boost Indigenous participation in B.C. environmental assessments Source
  • Threat made against Toronto private school at centre of sexual assault investigation, police say

    Canada News CBC News
    Toronto police have ramped up patrols after a threat was made against a Catholic boys' private school that's at the centre of a sexual assault investigation. Police did not disclose any information about the nature of the threat. Source
  • Toronto private school didn't report incident of alleged sexual assault, police say

    Canada News CBC News
    Toronto police have ramped up patrols after a threat was made against a Catholic boys' private school that's at the centre of a sexual assault investigation. Police did not disclose any information about the nature of the threat. Source
  • Florida the 'laughingstock of the world,' judge says in vote recount ruling

    World News CBC News
    A federal judge slammed Florida on Thursday for repeatedly failing to anticipate election problems and said the state law on recounts appears to violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that decided the presidency in 2000. U.S. Source
  • Florida senate race headed for hand recount

    World News CBC News
    A federal judge slammed Florida on Thursday for repeatedly failing to anticipate election problems and said the state law on recounts appears to violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that decided the presidency in 2000. U.S. Source