Statement from the Finance Minister on the 2019 Federal Budget
"Today's federal budget confirms the federal government does not share Ontario's vision for making our province, let alone our country, Open for Business and Open for Jobs, and threatens manufacturing jobs and small businesses in Ontario. This in addition to hurting hard-working families by imposing its job-killing carbon tax.
Ontario's Government for the People has been working responsibly to reduce the deficit, cut red tape for businesses and create a pro-jobs environment. Since June 2018, Ontario has added 132,000 jobs. Once again we are witnessing businesses investing in Ontario, expanding job opportunities in the province, and growing the economy. This progress was recently reflected in the release of Ontario's 2018-19 Third Quarter Finances which forecasts an improvement of $1.5 billion in the province's inherited deficit to $13.5 billion.
But in less than two weeks, starting April 1, 2019, the federal government will force many low- and middle-income seniors, workers, families and businesses to start paying a rapidly-escalating carbon tax. The carbon tax will make no difference to the environment, but will drive up the cost of gas for your car, home heating for your family and the cost of getting food to your grocery store shelf. This tax will impact some of the most vulnerable — our seniors — and have them choose between heating or eating. This tax will erode the savings we have delivered to hard-working Ontario families and businesses through cancellation of the cap-and-trade carbon tax.
Last month, I sent a letter to Federal Minister of Finance Bill Morneau urging the federal government to stop the federal plan to impose this punitive carbon tax on Ontario. Our small businesses tell me they can't afford the carbon tax in combination with the higher payroll costs that the federal government imposed in January through the Canada Pension Plan enhancement. We are extremely disappointed the federal budget has refused to consider the impact of these taxes on Ontario's hard-working business owners and families.
Ontario is standing up for the people by fighting the carbon tax with every tool and power at our disposal. In addition to fighting the carbon tax in court, Ontario is exploring new transparency measures to make sure that every person in Ontario is informed of exactly how much money the federal government is taking out of their pockets at the gas pump and on their home heating bills.
Ontario will also not stand in the way of a project that would transport oil from Western Canada to Ontario or Canada's East Coast. In every way possible, Ontario will support its partners looking to expand oil distribution, and at the same time, protect their competitiveness from the federal carbon tax.
The federal government continues to hurt businesses with misguided legislation that adds burdensome red tape that will grind new resource development to a halt — killing jobs across Ontario and Canada. The proposed legislation will undo much of the progress we are seeking to create in Northern Ontario and will prevent major development projects from getting off the ground.
Ontario continues to advocate on behalf of workers in the automotive, steel and aluminum industries that have been greatly impacted by U.S tariffs. We acknowledge the limited targeted supports the federal government is providing to small businesses that produce and use steel and aluminum. Regardless, we are disappointed the federal government has not taken effective action to press the U.S. for the immediate and permanent removal of its tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, and to ensure no other trade impediments such as quotas are introduced. The inadequate support the federal government is providing to producers and users of steel and aluminum that are subject to U.S. tariffs does not go far enough.
We are again calling on the federal government for immediate action to oppose and remove punitive "Buy America" provisions. These provisions would negatively impact Ontario businesses and workers, and place a number of our key industries at a distinct disadvantage.
Ontario is disappointed that the federal government is not willing to fix the over-complicated and broken system of federal transfers. The hard-working people of Ontario send $12.9 billion more to Ottawa than the province receives back. We need a simple and effective system of transfers that ensures that provinces receive fair and adequate funding, while giving them the flexibility to meet the needs of the people.
The federal government must also take immediate action to address the national supply shortage of cannabis and ensure licensed producers ramp up supply to meet market demand and combat the illegal market.
While the federal government has finally acknowledged there is a housing supply problem, Ontario is taking the lead with our forthcoming Housing Supply Action Plan that will increase supply quickly and responsibly. We have consulted on how we can make it easier to find an affordable place to call home and will release our plan later this spring to make more good-quality places to live available for the hard-working people of our province.
Ontario's Government for the People will deliver its first budget on April 11. While the federal government continues to run endless deficits, the 2019 Ontario Budget will outline a plan to return the Province to balance in a responsible manner. We will protect what matters most — preserving core public services, including our world-class health care and education system. It will outline how we will create and protect jobs for Ontario workers, and put the people at the centre of everything we do in government."