POLITICS
02/16/2012 11:25 EST | Updated 04/17/2012 05:12 EDT

Drummond Report: NDP Calls For Tax Hike, Conservatives Want Budget Sooner

CP

TORONTO - Now that economist Don Drummond has revealed his austerity plan for Ontario, the opposition parties are offering some advice of their own.

Ontario is in bad fiscal shape, but struggling families shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of eliminating the deficit with user fees and higher water and hydro bills, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Thursday.

"I don't know what planet Mr. Drummond's on, he obviously only had one focus, which was the cuts," she said.

"But everybody else is living in the real world. Every other Ontarian that I'm talking to is feeling the pain already. They're hurting."

The governing Liberals should instead stop corporate tax cuts and even raise the rate to 14 per cent to bring in more revenue, she said.

The Tories rejected her call for higher business taxes, but demanded that Finance Minister Dwight Duncan deliver a budget as soon as possible.

Otherwise, the Liberals will dither instead of moving quickly on Drummond's advice, said PC finance critic Peter Shurman.

"This report is going on a shelf, it's gathering dust," he said. "That's why we need a budget now."

Drummond's highly anticipated report urged the Liberals to take "unprecedented" action now in order to prevent a debt crisis in the future.

His prescription includes bigger class sizes, higher utility bills, fewer hospitals and an end to direct subsidies and tax credits for businesses.

Duncan has said that he's not going to implement all 362 recommendations, even though Drummond warned that's exactly what is needed to eliminate the deficit on schedule by 2017-18.

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