Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Ontario Chamber of Commerce

February 06, 2007 11:42 ET

Ontarians Stand United for Fairness

Ontario Leaders Seek Fairness in Upcoming Federal Budget

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 6, 2007) - A non-partisan coalition of leaders from the business, non-profit and public sectors came together today to call on the federal government to treat Ontarians fairly in the next federal budget.

"The federal government has the opportunity to deliver a truly historic budget that finally mends the fundamentally flawed transfer system," said Len Crispino, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. "The amount of money taken from Ontario and redistributed to other provinces is not sustainable for the Ontario economy, and is not fair to Ontario taxpayers."

Compared to other provinces, the federal transfer system treats Ontario unfairly when it funds health care and postsecondary education. Through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and the Canada Social Transfer (CST), the federal government provides Ontario with $86 less cash per capita than it provides to Canadians living in other provinces. The result is a shortfall of about $1.1 billion this year that Ontario could invest in health care, colleges and universities, and social services.

"There are enormous social challenges in Toronto that need to be addressed and the same can be said of other communities across the province. We need to retain more money within Ontario to address critical social issues, education and health," said Frances Lankin, President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Toronto.

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion also voiced her concerns. "The fiscal gap is very real. Until federal transfers are delivered fairly, our municipalities will be at a disadvantage compared to those in other provinces. This means our people are not getting the same quality of services as found in other provinces."

Dr. Ian Clark, President of the Council of Ontario Universities, and Hilary Short, President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, were also on hand. They underlined that the system of federal transfers provides lower per capita cash funding for health care and post-secondary education in Ontario than in other provinces. "Federal reports and independent studies have said it is time to end this unfair treatment of Ontario in major federal transfers. The budget is the time to act," said Linda Franklin President and CEO of the Associations of Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology of Ontario.

"If funding for Ontario's hospitals were to be raised over time to the Canadian average, many important investments in key areas such as e-Health, system capacity, and patient safety could be made, with safer, more effective care for even more patients being the tangible result," adds Hilary Short.

"Ontario workers are also affected. They receive less support from the federal government to help them find a job, or help them improve their skills," said Wayne Samuelson, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour. In 2004-05, federal support for job training amounted to $1,143 per unemployed Ontarian, compared to $1,827 per unemployed person in the rest of Canada. This is a $684 shortfall that limits Ontario workers from upgrading their skills.

Leaders from across the province were present at a news conference today where they all pointed out that the future prosperity of all Canadians depends on Ontario's ability to continue to generate wealth, to invest in people and to face the challenges and opportunities of today's global economy.

"This is not a partisan issue," added Len Crispino. All three political parties in Ontario have argued for fairness and over 120 Ontario municipalities have passed resolutions in support of the Ontario government position. "Every Canadian living in Ontario should be paying attention to how the federal government treats Ontarians in the upcoming budget, and every elected Ontario politician should be highlighting the need for fair funding from the federal government."

To view the open letter, please use the following link: http://files.newswire.ca/579/openletter.pdf

Contact Information

  • Ontario Chamber of Commerce
    Amy Terrill
    W: (416) 482-5222, ext. 241 or C: (416) 605-8205
    amyterrill@occ.on.ca