No cuts to social
The Green approach
to budgeting uses the fiscal planning process to help the human community
live healthily and happily within the limits of its ecological carrying
This approach asks what nature and human health need us to be doing. It asks who should be paying for this work. It sets things up so that (1) we don’t do damage that will cost us later and (2) it is profitable for the private sector to do the work.
The current provincial government is slashing social programs, privatising health care and not collecting available revenue. The previous provincial government also ignored collectable revenue and did not address root causes, and so costs escalated. Neither of these approaches to fiscal management makes sense.
The health care system is a major provincial expense. Yet privatised health care increases illness by making health care inaccessible. The Green approach focuses on the root causes of ill-health which are poverty, inadequate housing, and the high cost of illness-preventing health services such as mental health services, dental care and medications.
To reduce the demand on hospitals and policing, we propose using the most efficient income support and illness prevention strategies, such as Housing First, the Basic Income Guarantee, covering mental health and dental services through OHIP+, and using the power of collective purchasing to make necessary drugs available, that is, Pharmacare.
As was shown in the budget we published in early May 2018, this would require an initial investment of 16.73 billion over 4 years to make the adjustment from the current expensive way of doing things. Eventually health care and policing costs would go down and we would be able to reallocate the resources, and even reduce taxes. The projected savings from preventing illness are 4 to 8 billion per year, returning this initial investment within about 8 years (since we don’t know exactly how long it takes for the prevention effect to kick in). The burden of the initial investment would be borne by raising revenue from seven sources:
- Reinstating half of the previous governments’ 3% Tax reduction on large corporations: 6.77 billion
- Gradual increase on natural resource royalties: 3.09 billion
- Housing speculation tax: 2.18 billion
- Collect evaded taxes by following Drummond Report recommendations: 2.0 billion
- Income tax increase on top 1% of earners: 1.55 billion
- Tobacco tax: 0.96 billion
- Portion of the savings from not implementing the Unfair Hydro Act: 0.18 billion
In several cases, these sources also help reduce the problem that we are addressing. For instance, by taxing housing speculation, we make it more profitable to get housing back on the market sooner, reducing the housing crunch. We also make it profitable for housing speculators to pay for whatever repairs and energy retrofits are needed to get the houses onto the market, providing local jobs. Taxing tobacco reduces the amount of ill-health from tobacco smoking. Raising the royalty price of natural resources encourages producers to reduce waste and stimulates innovation which often employs more skilled people. Ontario has the lowest royalty levels in Canada. Instead of giving away the store, we can gradually raise the level to the same level Saskatchewan has.
Of course, the Green budget also provides for a major investment in electrified public transportation which would have knock-on effects of making private electric cars more affordable as manufacturing capacity improved due to this market stimulation. In addition to slowing climate change, this also takes illness-causing pollution out of the air, further reducing the overall cost of health care in the provincial budget. This major investment is also covered by new revenue measures which make using fossil fuels and using private transportation more expensive. This makes the electric and public transportation alternatives more attractive and profitable. And this approach to transportation employs 5 times more people for the investment than the fossil fuel approach does. Balance the budget, provide improved public health and transport, increase employment, and save the planet. Jobs, People, Planet.
Now, imagine if we applied this thinking to building homes and hockey arenas!
We could focuss provincial economic development support on conserving energy and clean energy generation. We could require housing and building programs to meet the net zero standard. That is, buildings generate as much energy as they use. Hydro bills are very low for such buildings! With this kind of market stimulation, net zero retrofits will become much more affordable, and more and more people will be able to get that low hydro bill.
Ontario companies could be the first to figure out how to build an arena that generates its own energy to freeze the ice and warm the people. Then all those cities and towns across the USA whose arenas are getting worn down or expensive to operate would compete to hire Ontario expertise!
By sticking with fossil fuel investment, we are missing out on a 7 trillion dollar a year market for energy conservation and clean energy investment.