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

  • City of Toronto threatens to remove tiny shelters built to help the homeless, citing safety concerns

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- In October, the story of a Toronto carpenter who was building tiny portable shelters for people living on the streets to have a warmer, safer place to stay than in a tent, warmed hearts across Canada. Source
  • Students call for end of Quebec's 'code of silence' on campus sexual assault

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- More than 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for the end of what they call the “code of silence” for sexual assault on the campus of Quebec’s colleges and universities. The petition, which reached 3,003 signatures as of Wednesday, calls for an amendment to Bill 64, known as the “Act respecting Access to documents held by public bodies and the Protection of personal information,” that would allow educational institutions to share the sanctions or punishments of sexual abuse…
  • AstraZeneca manufacturing error raises questions about vaccine study results

    World News CBC News
    AstraZeneca and Oxford University on Wednesday acknowledged a manufacturing error that is raising questions about preliminary results of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine. A statement describing the error came days after the company and the university described the shots as "highly effective" and made no mention of why some study participants didn't receive as much vaccine in the first of two shots as expected. Source
  • Americans risk travelling over Thanksgiving despite warnings

    World News CTV News
    Millions of Americans took to the skies and the highways ahead of Thanksgiving at the risk of pouring gasoline on the coronavirus fire, disregarding increasingly dire warnings that they stay home and limit their holiday gatherings to members of their own household. Source
  • RCMP sergeant claims officer told her Meng Wanzhou's electronic device info sent to FBI

    Canada News CBC News
    The RCMP sergeant who oversaw Meng Wanzhou's arrest says the officer responsible for securing the Huawei executive's phones told her the serial numbers attached to Meng's electronic devices were sent to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Source
  • RCMP commissioner to review watchdog report on Colten Boushie case on weekend of Dec. 4

    Canada News CBC News
    The RCMP's response to a watchdog report about the Colten Boushie case will be on commissioner Brenda Lucki's desk on Friday, Dec. 4, Lucki says. Lucki will read it over that weekend before signing off on it, she said. Source
  • Homework assignment to list 'positive' stories about residential schools under investigation

    Canada News CBC News
    A B.C. mother says she is furious after her daughter and other Grade 6 students were given homework asking them to highlight "positive" stories and facts about Canada's residential school system for Indigenous children. The Abbotsford School District said it is investigating after being made aware of the assignment Wednesday. Source
  • Mexico arrests cartel mastermind of Mormon massacre which killed nine

    World News CBC News
    Mexico's army and federal prosecutors said Wednesday they have arrested the purported mastermind of the killings a year ago of three women and six children from a well-known Mexican-American family, the LeBarons, on a rural road in the northern state of Sonora. Source
  • Person of interest identified in murders of Barry and Honey Sherman, Toronto police confirm

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A person of interest has been identified in the murders of billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman, the Toronto Police Service confirmed to CTV News Toronto on Wednesday. “The Toronto Police Service can confirm that a person of interest has been identified but not arrested,” Const. Source
  • 40 dead after bus and truck collide in Brazil

    World News CBC News
    A bus carrying employees of a textile company and a truck collided on a highway in Brazil's Sao Paulo state early Wednesday, killing 40 people, officials said. Rescuers were helping the wounded and passengers caught in the wreckage of the vehicles in the municipality of Taguai, about 350 kilometres from the city of Sao Paulo. Source