Ford right on gas taxes, wrong on debt

To truly save money for taxpayers, Ford needs to both cut taxes and shrink the debt burden for future taxpayers. Pictured: Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy and Health Minister Sylvia Jones. Photo Credit: Doug Ford/LinkedIn. 

It was a week of ups and downs for Premier Doug Ford’s government. 

Last Monday, Ford announced he is delivering major relief to taxpayers. 

The very next day, the Ford government announced further plans to burden taxpayers with even more government debt. 

Let’s look at Monday’s good news first. 

At a press conference in Mississauga, Ford announced his government is extending its 6.4 cent per litre gas tax cut until the end of this year.

Ford’s announcement had two major themes: attacking the Trudeau government’s plan to raise costs on hardworking families and outlining how the province would step in to help.

He began by noting the federal carbon tax hike will increase the cost of gas at the pumps by roughly three cents per litre. And Ford noted increased costs of gasoline cascade throughout the economy. 

“On April 1, the federal government will be raising its terrible federal carbon tax by a staggering 23 per cent,” Ford said. “That’s going to hurt every single person in Ontario.”

Ford went on to tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau it was “not too late” to cancel the feds’ impending tax hike. 

Then, Ford laid out how he will help struggling taxpayers confront the federal government’s plan to raise costs on hardworking families: delivering on a gas tax cut extension.  

“It’s never been more important to keep costs down,” Ford said. “We’re on a relentless mission to save people money.”

That includes savings at the pumps.

Ford’s rhetoric may have been inflated, but he’s not wrong about the impact the gas tax cut is having on working families. 

Since the government first brought in the gas tax cut 20 months ago, the average two-car Ontario family has saved more than $700 at the pumps. Extending that gas tax cut until the end of the year means families will save hundreds more.

But while Ford got it right on gas taxes, he continues to get it wrong on debt.

Just one day after Ford told Ontarians how important finances are to Queen’s Park, the Ford government announced plans to run a $9.8 billion deficit in 2024-25. 

To make matters worse, the Ford government won’t balance the budget for two more years.

The government also plans to spend more than $1 billion per month on debt interest. That’s money that goes straight from taxpayers’ wallets to bondholders on Bay Street.

Ford can’t credibly say he’s bringing costs down for taxpayers when at the very same time he’s shovelling more debt onto the backs of future generations. 

Ontario’s debt increased by more than $80 billion since Ford became premier in 2018. Ford added more debt to Ontario’s balance sheet than former premier Kathleen Wynne. And Ford used to relentlessly criticize for her reckless spending. 

The man who told Ontario taxpayers in 2018 that the party was over with taxpayers’ money, forgot how to close the taxpayer cash-infused Queen’s Park night club. 

The budget Ontarians deserved would have seen Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy promise to curtail spending in order to get the books balanced. 

Instead, spending is up this year by $9.8 billion over last year’s budget. 

Ford could have balanced the budget if he kept costs down and showed a little restraint. A combination of freezing spending at 2023 levels, cutting corporate welfare and bringing government employee pay in line with the private sector could have delivered a surplus. 

Instead, Ford once again took out the taxpayer credit card. 

The bottom line is that Ford was right on Monday and wrong on Tuesday. Tax cuts are desperately needed to help families today. But to truly save money for taxpayers, Ford needs to both cut taxes and shrink the debt burden for future taxpayers. 

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