Feds to Ontario: Clean up your fiscal house

Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver. (Reuters)

Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver. (Reuters)

Christina Blizzard, Toronto Sun Columnist

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

TORONTO - Ontario needs to pull up its socks and get its foundering fiscal house in order or risk dragging down the rest of the country, federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver says.

And it’s morally wrong to pile up debt for another generation to pay off, he said.

“Canada can’t reach its potential if its largest province is lagging, so we want to see Ontario prosper,” Oliver said in an exclusive telephone interview Wednesday.

“We do have concerns about fiscal policies that result in a deficit of $12 billion.”

He pointed to figures released this week by the Fraser Institute that show this province’s debt has soared 89% since 2007-08 — faster than any other province.

“The net debt of the province has increased more than any other province or the federal government — 89%,” Oliver said.

“It’s now almost $20,000 per capita, which is substantial. These are numbers that have real implications.”

And he said piling up debt for our children and grandchildren to pay off is morally wrong.

“There’s also a moral dimension — ‘generational fairness.’

“What it really means is that debt is being incurred now for expenses today that will have to be paid for by our children and grandchildren. No mother or father would want to saddle their children and grandchildren with debt for their current expenses,” he said.

Federally, the Conservatives have reduced taxes and introduced discipline in budgeting. They’re projecting a $6.4-billion surplus next year and will start cutting middle-class taxes once that happens, Oliver said.

“Our tax level’s at the lowest level since John Diefenbaker was prime minister — and it’s all due to hard work and discipline.

“We didn’t get to the point where we’re able to say we’re going to have a surplus next year without some hard work,” he said.

“Budgets don’t balance themselves — Justin Trudeau may think they do, but they don’t. They require a plan and they require the discipline to follow it.”


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