POLITICS
12/08/2011 08:31 EST | Updated 02/07/2012 05:12 EST

Ontario Corporate Subsidies: Fraser Institute Blasts Province For $27.7 Billion Given To Companies

CP
TORONTO - A report from a right-wing think tank says Ontario governments are addicted to dispensing "corporate welfare."

The Fraser Institute says Ontario governments of all political stripes spent more than $27.7 billion on direct subsidies to corporations between 1991 and 2009.

The institute today released a report by Mark Milke titled Ontario's Corporate Welfare Bill: $27.7 billion.

Milke says the cost of Ontario corporate subsidies in the most recent year for which data is available was the equivalent of $424 from each taxpayer.

He calculates that money could have been used to almost eliminate the Ontario health premium.

Milke says other options include reducing personal income taxes, reducing business taxes, or reducing Ontario's annual deficit by $2.7 billion.

"Subsidies to businesses, whether bailouts, loans that may not be repaid, or straight grants are all forms of corporate welfare and do nothing to benefit Ontario families," Milke said.

Multibillion-dollar handouts to business result in other more desirable policies being ignored or not enacted because the money is spent on business subsidies, he said.

"In light of the Occupy protests that sprang up this fall and the concerns over perceived favours to individual corporations, Ontario politicians should rethink their propensity to spend millions of tax dollars on corporate bailouts and risky business ventures," Milke said.

The report tracks corporate subsidy spending in Ontario from fiscal years 1991-92 to 2008-09, the most recent year for which data is available.

Because data after 2009-10 is not yet available, Ontario's multimillion-dollar loans to General Motors and Chrysler are not included in the overall $27.7 billion total.

The report found that all three political parties that have formed government in Ontario since 1991 -- NDP, Progressive Conservative, and Liberal -- have all spent substantial amounts on corporate welfare.

"Low corporate tax rates -- not high corporate welfare payments -- will lead to employment growth and job creation in Ontario," Milke said.