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Harper budget 'slap in the face,' Sousa says

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa expresses disappointment that federal budget delivered on April 21, 2015 did not adequately address infrastructure funding needs. (Toronto Sun/Antonella Artuso)

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa expresses disappointment that federal budget delivered on April 21, 2015 did not adequately address infrastructure funding needs. (Toronto Sun/Antonella Artuso)

TORONTO - 

The Stephen Harper budget is a “slap in the face” and a missed opportunity to help grow the provincial economy, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa says.

Even commitments to spend more on infrastructure are so vague and so far down the track as to be a disappointment, Sousa said Tuesday.

“Frankly, when it comes to transit, they’ve kind of missed the train and they’re not even in the station,” he said.

The federal government is also offering “crumbs” to help kickstart the Ring of Fire project in northern Ontario, according to Sousa.

The Harper government opted to use the proceeds from the sale of General Motors shares to balance its books, when the province would have preferred that money go into infrastructure, Sousa added.

The Ontario government, which also received GM shares in the recession bailout of auto companies, has put the revenue into a Trillium Trust to pay for transit, roads and bridges across the province.

“Some of the decisions made in this federal budget are election cycle decisions, some of it is gimmicks. We need to look towards investing in our future for the benefit of all of Canada including Ontario,” Sousa said.

Ontario Progressive Conservative finance critic Vic Fedeli said the minister’s comments were nothing more than “politics.”

“When you look at the reality, since we’ve become a have-not province we’ve received $14 billion from the federal government and the Liberals still can’t balance the budget in Ontario,” Fedeli said.

Ontario is called a “have-not” province because it receives equalization payments from the feds.

Sousa said Ontarians still send more to Ottawa than they get back in transfers or services.

On Thursday, the Kathleen Wynne government will deliver its own budget, which is expected to contain an operating deficit, unlike the federal government’s budget, which is no longer in the red.

antonella.artuso@sunmedia.ca


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