On Tuesday, before a crowd of 300 at The Empire Club in Toronto, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa actually spoke these words:
“We cannot simply pass the burden of debt onto future generations.”
As the man in charge of the province’s finances, Sousa presumably has access to all the most up-to-date figures on the economy. But perhaps a document skipped his attention. Here it is: Ontario’s net debt*, starting when the Liberals came to power in 2003:
2003-4: $138.8 billion
2004-5: $140.9 billion
2005-6: $152.7 billion
2006-7: $153.7 billion
2007-8: $156.6 billion
2008-9: $169.5 billion
2009-10: $193.5 billion
2010-11: $214.5 billion
2011-12: $235.5 billion
2012-13: $252.1 billion
2013-14: $267.2 billion
2014-15: $287.3 billion
2015-16: $300.3 billion
Note how the total goes up every single year the Liberals have been in power. At first in dribs and drabs, then in accelerating leaps. That’s how debt gets out of hand: each year the gap gets worse as the borrowers become more comfortable heaping more debt on the pile. Not once since 2003 has the total fallen.
Note how this year’s debt is more than double the figure from the year the Liberals were first elected.
Note how, in 2003, Ontario’s debt was just 28% the size of the federal debt. After 12 years of Liberal government, the figure is 50%. That means Ontario’s borrowing is now equal to half the amount Ottawa has borrowed for the entire country.
Ontario now pays $1 billion a month on interest alone. That’s $12 billion a year not available for health care, education, transit, childcare, infrastructure or any other important provincial responsibility. By pushing up the debt every single year, the Liberals have managed to deprive Ontarians of $12 billion a year in services they might otherwise receive.
But the big question is this: If we’re not passing this on to the next generation, who does Charles Sousa think we’re passing it on to? Unless he has a plan to repay $300 billion before he retires as finance minister, then he – just as all his predecessors did – is amassing an enormous liability that will land squarely on the shoulders of the generations that follow.
If he doesn’t understand this, is he qualified to be finance minister? If he does, why is he making such ludicrous statements to audiences at the Empire Club?
Perhaps he assumed the audience wasn’t paying attention. He could be forgiven for that. Ontarians haven’t been paying much attention for the past 14 years, why would they start now?