Common Sense Revolution
The Chief Economist at Midland
Walwyn, one of Canada's most respected securities firms,
"This plan will work.
The Mike Harris plan to cut provincial income tax
rates by 30% and non-priority services spending by
20% will give Ontario a balanced budget within four
years, and create more than 725,000 new jobs."
Mullins, Ph. D. (Economics)
The people of Ontario have
a message for their politicians -- government isn't
working anymore. The system is broken.
You sent that message when
you handed the provincial government its dramatic defeat
in 1990. You sent it in the referendum campaign in 1992.
You sent it in the federal election. And yet, no one
seems to be listening.
Over the last few years, I
have been out talking with the people of Ontario. In
Town Hall meetings, in living rooms and around kitchen
I have heard your message.
You are looking for a Common Sense Revolution
in the way our province is run. Well, I'm prepared to
actually do something about it.
It's time for government to
make the same types of changes all of us have had to
make in our own families and in our jobs. If we are
to fix the problems in this province then government
has to be prepared to make some tough decisions.
I'm not talking about tinkering,
about incremental changes, or about short term solutions.
After all, the changes we have all experienced in our
personal lives have been much more fundamental
It's time for us to take a
fresh look at government. To re-invent the way it works,
to make it work for people. While many goals remain
important to us -- creating jobs, providing safe communities,
protecting health care -- we are governed by a system
that was designed to meet the needs of the 1950's, not
the challenges of the 1990's or beyond.
It's time to ask ourselves
how government spending can double in the last ten years,
while we seem to be getting less and less value for
our tax money....
To ask ourselves why we spend
more money on education than ever before, but our children
aren't able to get the kind of education they need to
secure a good and prosperous future....
Time to ask ourselves how we
can spend more and more money fighting crime,
while our streets end up becoming more dangerous.
I have been troubled by these
realities for some time. I fear Janet and I cannot hope
for a better future for our children.
I want to do something about
it. So, today I'm putting forth a plan to help build
a better future.
There are more than half a
million people unemployed in this province. The bottom
line is that Ontario needs jobs. This plan will create
more than 725,000 new jobs over the
next five years.
Ontario is among the highest-taxed
jurisdictions in North America. There have been 65 tax
increases in the past decade, including 11 hikes to
your income tax.
This plan will cut your provincial
income tax rate by 30%. Government spending has more
than doubled in the past ten years, pushing both the
tax burden and the provincial deficit higher.
This plan will reduce non-priority government spending
Too many services essential
to the public are now being cut, or are under such financial
pressure that the quality of service is in danger.
This plan guarantees full funding
for health care, law enforcement, and education spending
in the classroom.
A decade of tax-and-spend economics
has pushed our annual deficit over the $10 billion mark,
mortgaging our children's future.
This plan will fully balance
the budget in four years.
This is not a wish list or a bunch of empty political
promises. This is a solid plan based on four years of
study, analysis, consultation with workers, employers,
party members and ordinary
Ontarians through extensive public hearings.
To be sure of our conclusions,
we subjected this plan to an independent analysis by
one of Canada's leading economic experts.
In short, our plan will work,
and bring hope, opportunity and jobs back to Ontario.
There is nothing wrong with
Ontario that a new vision, a new direction and turn-around
management can't fix.
We can build a safe and prosperous
province, but first we need a major change in the way
It will not be easy, but it
CAN be done, and it WILL be worth it.
In order to create the jobs
we so badly need, and to renew our economy, we will
have to set priorities and stick to them.
Tinkering with the system will
not be enough. It is time for fundamental change, and
change is never easy.
The political system itself
stands in the way of making many of the changes we need
Our political system has become
a captive to big special interests. It is full of people
who are afraid to face the difficult issues, or even
talk about them. It is full of people doing all too
well as a result of the status quo.
We need a revolution in this
province....a Common Sense Revolution.
It will be a revolution of
practical ideas for making government work better for
the people it serves, and a revolution against the last
ten years of government thinking when it comes to job
Ontario needs jobs today, and
This plan will show you how
this can be done....how Ontario can once again become
an economic powerhouse, full of hope, opportunity and
If you believe, as I do, that
we need lower taxes, less government and 725,000 new
jobs in Ontario, I am asking you to join me in my fight
for a Common Sense Revolution.
- Mike Harris
THE COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION
A Harris government would immediately
implement a five point Job Creation Plan. This plan
will generate economic growth and investment in Ontario
and create more than 725,000 new jobs.
There are 5 key components
to the Harris Job Creation Plan (details are discussed
in later sections):
1. CUT PROVINCIAL INCOME
TAXES. Our tax rates, which are currently among
the highest in North America, will be cut by 30% over
three years, with half that cut coming in the first
year. This plan will give Ontario the lowest provincial
income tax rate in Canada. For an average, middle-class
Ontario household, this will mean tax cuts of more than
$4,000 in the
first three years alone.
2. CUT GOVERNMENT SPENDING.
Total spending will be reduced by 20% in three years,
without touching a penny of Health Care funding. Other
priority areas of law enforcement and
classroom funding for education will also be exempt.
3. CUT GOVERNMENT BARRIERS
TO JOB CREATION, INVESTMENT AND ECONOMIC GROWTH.
This will send a signal around the world that Ontario
is open for business again. Immediate actionwill be
¤ Abolish the job-killing payroll
health tax for small businesses
¤ Eliminate all red tape and
reduce the regulatory burden
¤ Freeze Ontario Hydro rates
for the next five years
¤ Cut WCB premiums for all
employers by 5%
¤ Repeal the NDP's job-killing
labour legislation - Bill 40
¤ End inter-provincial trade
barriers through bilateral negotiations
¤ Encourage the private sector
to provide child care for working parents.
4. CUT THE SIZE OF GOVERNMENT.
We will provide the people of Ontario with BETTER for
LESS. There isn't a household in this province that
hasn't had to make the family budget stretch further,
and there isn't a company in Ontario that hasn't found
creative ways to cut costs and improve products or services
at the same time. It's time we demanded the same
from the people we elect and the bureaucrats that we
Performance standards will
be set for all government services. The best people,
in or out of the public service, will be hired to provide
5. BALANCE THE BUDGET.
This plan will fully balance the Ontario budget in four
years. An independent econometric model shows that,
by the fifth year, Ontario will be in a position to
taxes even more AND start paying down the provincial
The policies in this plan have
been in development for almost four years. They are
designed to meet the ongoing concerns of Ontarians about
the future of our economy. They respond to the needs
of the middle-class for job creation, tax relief and
more efficient government, and the needs of the less
fortunate and disadvantaged for more hope, opportunity
and long-term security.
These policies come from the
Town Hall meetings we have been holding with citizens
all across Ontario since 1990. They have come from the
consultations we have held in conjunction with our New
Directions series of policy papers. And they have come
from the grassroots of our party membership in the course
of an exhaustive policy review process.
In short, this plan doesn't
just belong to Mike Harris, it's yours....the plan you
have told us YOU would like to see implemented.
Some will call it radical.
Some will attack bits and pieces of this plan. We believe,
when considered in its entirety, this plan is a fair,
effective and common sense way of returning prosperity
I - LOWERING YOUR TAXES
Ontario is among the highest
taxed jurisdictions in North America. Our taxes have
been raised 65 times since 1985, and that includes 11
hikes to personal income taxes.
This excessive burden drives
away new investment and jobs, and makes it incredibly
difficult for us to compete, not only in the global
marketplace but against other provinces.
Consumer spending accounts
for 60% of our economy's activity. Reducing taxes stimulates
consumer spending and investment, a direct boost to
job creation. In fact, taxes MUST be cut if we want
to create jobs.
And that will only be the start,
only the tip of the iceberg.
With more dollars in your pocket,
with more of your friends and neighbours at work and
paying their way and with government operating more
efficiently -- we are convinced that Ontario will
experience much stronger and more broadly based growth.
This plan is really a vote of confidence in you and
in ourprovince. There is no telling what we can accomplish
if initiative and hard work are rewarded once again!
"Having reviewed the Mike
Harris plan, I am convinced that the tax incentives
for people and business will help create an economic
climate of dynamic growth and new jobs in Ontario."
- Bill Young,
CEO, Consumers Distributing
We will cut your provincial
income tax rates by 30% in three years. Half of the
cuts would come up front - in year one. These cuts will
return billions of dollars to taxpayers in the first
three years alone.
For a middle-class family of
four making a total income of $50,000, this will mean
more than $4,000 in tax savings in the next three years
alone. And these savings will continue, year after year.
More examples are listed in
the chart above (see hard copy for charts and graphs).
These are the actual amounts of money that would be
saved....the amount that would go into YOUR pocket,
NOT the government's.
These tax cuts will give Ontario
the lowest income tax rate in Canada. It will re-set
our income tax level back to rates not seen since 1976.
These tax cuts will be the
first step in redistributing wealth and decision-making
power away from the politicians and the bureaucrats,
and returning it to the people themselves. That's what
The Common Sense Revolution is all about.
ONLY ONE TAXPAYER
have responded to provincial funding limits by simply
increasing local property taxes. There may be numerous
levels of government in this province, but there is
only one level of taxpayer - you.
We will work closely with municipalities
to ensure that any actions we take will not result in
increases in local property taxes.
We want to ensure that municipalities
and regional governments do everything possible to deliver
services more efficiently.
You'll find more information
on our policies for local government in the "Less Government"
section on page 7.
"FAIR SHARE" HEALTH CARE
We will ask for one thing...to
reinvest some of the income tax savings into our health
A "Fair Share" health care
levy will be collected through the provincial income
tax, with the rich paying more than the middle-class,
and people making less than $50,000 a year paying nothing.
At $50,000, the levy will be $100.
It's important to note that
the tax savings in the chart on the previous page include
the health care levy. The average middle-class family
will still save more than $4,000 over three years.
Under this plan, everyone will
pay their fair share, and top quality health care will
be available to all Ontarians. Specifically targeted
for health care and geared to income, "Fair Share" will
generate $400 million in revenues for the health care
system. This will completely offset the $400 million
in revenues lost by abolishing the payroll tax on small
business. (See the "Removing Barriers to Growth" section
on page 14.)
For some time now, there has
been growing debate over the most effective way to ensure
more responsible use of our universal health care system.
In the last decade, user fees and co-payments have kept
rising and many health care services have been "de-listed"
and are no longer covered by OHIP.
We looked at those kinds of
options, but decided the most effective and fair method
was to give the public and health professionals alike
a true and full accounting of the costs of health care,
and ask individuals to pay a fair share of those costs,
based on income. We believe the new Fair Share Health
Care levy, based on the ability to pay, meets the test
of fairness and the requirements of the Canada Health
Act while protecting the fundamental integrity of our
health care system.
Under this plan, there will
be NO new user fees.
II - LESS GOVERNMENT
Over a three year period beginning
immediately after the election,total spending, except
for health care, will be cut by 20% -- twenty cents
on the dollar. Law enforcement and classroom funding
for education will also be exempt.
On our current estimates for
1996 revenues and expenses, spending will be reduced
by $3.605 billion in the first year. At the end of three
years, this plan will have reduced annual government
spending by $6 billion.
Ontario government spending
has more than doubled over the last ten years. Between
1985 and today, the budget increased from $26 billion
to $53 billion. Year after year, in good times and in
bad, spending has continued to rise, adding to existing
programs and creating many, many new ones.
To be fair, Ontario has grown
and inflation has driven costs higher. However, even
after these factors are taken fully into account, the
Ontario government still spends far more than it needs
As a result of this uncontrolled
spending, Ontario is broke! As the money has run out,
our political system, unaccustomed to setting priorities,
has come under increasing pressure. Without a clear
sense of priorities, the lack of new revenues has meant
that the quality of EVERYTHING the government does has
That includes the priority
services such as health care, education and law enforcement
that all of us want to see maintained. But, it goes
deeper than that. As government's appetite for cash
has grown, it has turned to us, the taxpayers, to bail
The first place the government
has looked to satisfy its appetite for money has been
your pay cheques, leaving each of us with fewer dollars
to spend on the things we need for ourselves and for
This has to stop. We need to
get our priorities straight.
That's what The Common Sense
Revolution is all about.
We want to provide efficient
government service. That means setting priorities, cutting
out fat and waste, and putting people first.
Protecting Priority Services
Let's start with the top priorities
-- the essential services that Ontarians want to see
1) HEALTH CARE
We will not cut health care
spending. It's far too important. And frankly, as we
all get older, we are going to need it more and more.
Under this plan, health care
spending will be guaranteed. As government, we will
be aggressive about rooting out waste, abuse, health
card fraud, mismanagement and duplication.
Every dollar we save by cutting
overhead or by bringing in the best new management techniques
and thinking will be reinvested in health care to improve
services to patients. We call this common sense approach,
Patient-based budgeting means
that we put the priority on the people who need health
care. It means that the focus is on how we can put more
of our health care dollars into direct care for those
in need, and more into the preventive care which can
help people avoid becoming ill in the first place.
For many who need care, this
should mean an end to rationing and waiting lists. The
fact that cancer patients can be trapped on waiting
lists for months is a crime. The fact that pregnant
women can't get epidurals is a scandal. The fact that
people needing kidney dialysis have to wait in line
For the professionals within
our health care system, this means freedom to find more
efficient ways of spending without worrying that the
government will siphon their savings off into other
2) LAW ENFORCEMENT
The people of Ontario are rightly
concerned about community safety in our province, particularly
the increasing incidence of violent crime. That is why
funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed.
There are many constructive
proposals which can help make our communities safer
and our justice system more efficient at less cost.
These measures are outlined in detail in our policy
paper, "New Directions III: A Blueprint for Justice
and Community Safety."
Again, any savings we find
in our justice system through greater efficiencies will
be reinvested to ensure public safety in our streets
and in our homes.
Classroom funding for education
will be guaranteed. That does not mean that savings
cannot be found elsewhere in the education system. Too
much money is now being spent on consultants, bureaucracy
and administration. Not enough is being invested in
Our principle of "classroom-based
budgeting" will help ensure that this essential service
is protected and, indeed, that excellence in education
and training is enhanced.
Education reform is essential
if Ontario's next generation is to find high-paying,
productive jobs in increasingly competitive world markets.
Our proposals for education reform are outlined in detail
in our policy document, "New Directions II: A Blueprint
Finding The Savings
Consensus among Ontarians is
that there is plenty of fat to be cut, and many ways
that government can reduce its spending without affecting
Here are the savings we've
found so far....
a) Fewer Politicians
You have told us that we have
too many politicians. Under this plan, we will reduce
the number of MPPs from 130 to 99, simply by using the
same boundaries we use to elect federal MPs. We will
enter into discussions with the federal government to
ensure the new boundaries are fair.
Not only does each politician
draw a salary and an expense allowance, but we must
also pay for their office staff at Queen's Park and
in their riding. Cutting the number of MPPs by 24% will
set an example of cost-cutting to be followed by all
levels of government and all departments and ministries.
As well, we will end the sweet
deals politicians have created for themselves. Under
this plan, MPPs' pensions will be abolished and replaced
with an RRSP contribution program similar to those used
by other professionals in Ontario. The tax-free benefits
paid to politicians will also be abolished. They will
be paid a straight salary, just like ordinary Ontarians.
These measures will save Ontario
taxpayers another $1.1 million. With fewer MPPs, we
can also cut the cost of running elections by working
co-operatively with Elections Canada to do the job.
We estimate that this could save Ontario taxpayers an
additional $10 million.
b) Restructure the Bureaucracy
The provincial bureaucracy
has grown by leaps and bounds over the past ten years.
Not surprisingly, the government has tried to hide the
exact number by talking about "person years" and by
putting a vast number of bureaucrats on contract.
We are convinced that top quality
public services can be provided at less cost, with fewer
people. We will trim the cost of the direct provincial
government workforce by 15% - the equivalent of some
13,000 employees, returning the system to the approximate
size it was in 1985. Some parts of our current system
may no longer be needed at all.
This will save Ontario taxpayers
$650 million over two years. Where possible we'll make
our reductions through attrition and retirement packages.
Where necessary, this process could mean cutting some
positions. We are confident that the tremendous growth
in the private sector will provide ample job opportunities
for those who may be displaced.
Our welfare plan includes a
commitment to invest $500 million in new and innovative
programs to help those most in need and those who genuinely
want a hand up, not a hand-out.
c) Reform Welfare
We want to open up new opportunities
and restore hope for people by breaking the cycle of
dependency. That will be the goal of our welfare reform.
The best social assistance program ever created is a
real job, and this plan will generate hundreds of thousands
of those. In the meantime, we must move to control costs
and help people return to the workforce.
The facts are staggering. In
the recession of 1982, just a dozen years ago, total
welfare costs in Ontario were $930 million. Coming out
of the current recession, we have four times as many
people in the welfare system, and our costs are more
than 6 times higher - an astonishing $6.3 billion a
We believe that government
can play a key role in providing opportunity to those
who want to get off welfare and back into productive
lives. That's why our plan includes a commitment to
invest $500 million in new and innovative programs to
help those most in need and those who genuinely want
a hand up, not a hand-out.
This money will go into "workfare"
and "learnfare" programs that link welfare with work
and education, (see next column) as well as into special
programs for children in need (see page 10).
While we can no longer afford the growing costs of the
welfare system, we can keep benefits above the national
average, and give recipients a chance to earn more money
at part-time jobs. Our plan for these reforms can be
found under "Welfare Benefits" on page 11.
As a result of our job creation
program, we anticipate at least a 5% reduction in the
number of people on welfare in each of the first three
This reduction will save Ontario
taxpayers an estimated $750 million.
1) "Workfare" and "Learnfare"
Ontario can do better than
the status quo. You have told us that you want to replace
welfare with a work, education and training social policy
that rewards individual initiative and demands responsible
behaviour from recipients of public assistance, even
as it expands opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency.
Ontario's welfare system needs to be results-oriented.
We've created a system that justifies the existence
of the bureaucrats who run it, but fails to work for
the people who need it.
We should prepare welfare recipients
to return to the workforce by requiring all able bodied
recipients -- with the exception of single parents with
young children --either to work or be retrained in return
for their benefits.
There are no short term cost
savings in this, but we believe that for every life
we get back on track we are avoiding further costly
programs down the road. In the next few months, we will
be asking charitable groups and other community organizations
to meet with us and talk about ways in which this vision
could be realized.
Part of this vision will be
a Youth Jobs Corps, which will provide younger people
with the opportunity to learn new skills while doing
useful work for their community. Community service
activities would be mandatory for able-bodied welfare
recipients 29 and under, unless they are enrolled in
an education or training program, or are the single
parent of a child three years old or younger. Placement
opportunities would match employment interests as much
2) Children In Need
Our obligation to those in
need is even greater in the case of our children. Children
living in poverty suffer from significantly higher infant
mortality rates, lower life expectancies and tend to
receive poor nutrition and education. As well, there
are nearly 200,000 welfare families headed by single
parents. Children in those families face even greater
challenges. Our targeted programs for children in need
will be community based and will include:
- A community nutrition program
for school-aged children. Studies have found that children
who go to school hungry tend to do poorly in class,
are more disruptive and suffer more health problems.
With leadership from the Premier, and with private sector
and volunteer support, a breakfast or nutrition program
can be implemented at little or no cost to taxpayers.
- A "Learning and Earning and
Parenting" program. Young single parents on welfare
will be encouraged to stay in school and complete their
educations. If they meet attendance standards, they
will be eligible for child care and bonuses in their
welfare cheques. As many as 23,000 teens and young adults
could be helped by this program.
- Homework Assistance Centres.
Expanding on the Hack House Program, a successful project
in the North Bay area, these community based centres
will be staffed by volunteers, including secondary school,
college and university students, who will serve as tutors
and role models. The Hack House project is a partnership
between the Nipissing First Nation and the Canadian
Centre for Social Justice. Currently there are ten students
in the project, who have increased their achievement
in some cases by as much as 20%. Such centres will help
motivate students, improve their school work, increase
their appreciation for learning and enhance future employment
- Child support enforcement.
While inroads have been made in collecting child support
over the past few years, there are still hundreds of
millions of dollars owed to parents and their children.
However, the current mandatory program of deducting
child support from parents' paycheques has created an
overburdened bureaucracy that fails to help all neglected
parents and children.
There are thousands of children
paying the emotional price for their parents' separation
because of tensions and disputes between the separated
parties. A program of mandatory mediation will help
resolve many of those problems and reduce the need for
courts or government to intervene.
Government should concentrate
its efforts on tracking down "deadbeat" parents and
enforcing payment orders. Parents who have reached amicable
separation settlements and who have no dispute over
support payments should be able to opt out of the government-
mandated program. In the case of disputes, an immediate
return to the mandatory deduction system will occur.
3) Seniors and the Disabled
Another important step in welfare
reform will be to move 170,000 of our citizens -- seniors
and the disabled -- out of the "welfare system" altogether.
They should never have been there in the first place.
We will establish a new and
separate income supplement program, specifically for
those unable to work. Funding for this program will
be guaranteed at current levels. Aid for seniors and
the disabled will NOT be cut.
4) Welfare Fraud and Overpayments
Every penny that is paid to
the wrong person through mistake or fraud is food taken
from the needy. Fraud and overpayments must be stopped.
The government has already
admitted to the existence of massive overpayments in
welfare benefits. One estimate runs as high as $247
million since 1990.
The government seems unable
to tell how much fraud there is in the welfare system.
Until recently, it denied there was a problem at all.
Estimates of welfare fraud have ranged from a few million
to hundreds of millions of dollars.
A province-wide computer system
coupled with a strictly enforced program of photo identification
for all welfare recipients will be at the centre of
Improved management techniques,
stricter eligibility requirements and fraud reduction
will save Ontario taxpayers more than $500 million over
5) Welfare Benefits
Ontario pays the highest welfare
benefits not only in Canada, but anywhere in North America.
This is one of the reasons our welfare caseload has
swollen to record levels. The simple fact of the matter
is that we can't afford it.
Our plan will set welfare benefits
at 10% ABOVE the national average of all other provinces.
This initiative is fair to all involved.
It will save Ontario taxpayers
Under the plan, a family of
four currently on welfare would receive less than it
gets today. However, we will allow anyone on welfare
to earn back the difference between the current rate
and the new, lower rate without penalty and without
losing their eligibility.
Under the current rules, a
welfare recipient who earns extra money is penalized.
This discourages initiative and encourages welfare dependence.
Although the amount of money
involved may not be large, the possibility of part-time
work opens the door for welfare recipients to learn
new skills, work towards full-time employment and increase
We will devote $100 million
to a joint program between the public, private and volunteer
sectors to ensure those opportunities are there. Any
welfare recipient who is willing to work will be able
to maintain their income at the current level.
d) Reform Education
For years now, we have been
spending more and more on education, but getting less
and less in the classroom.
International comparisons have
shown us all too clearly where Canada stands against
its global competitors in this field. (See hard copy
for charts and graphs.)
are worse. Ontario spends $14 billion a year on primary
and secondary education -- more per-pupil than any other
province -- and still gets a failing grade.
We believe Ontario's education
system is in need of system-wide reform, based on the
principles of providing opportunity to students, excellence
in curriculum and teachers, and accountability to parents
and taxpayers. Our education reform plan is spelled
out in our policy paper, "New Directions II: A Blueprint
for Learning". Here, we will concentrate on how these
reforms can reduce the burden on taxpayers.
1) Setting Priorities
A large part of the problem
is how little of our education investment actually reaches
the classroom. Under this plan, we will move to a system
of "classroom-based budgeting".
A greater share of our education
spending must go to children in the classroom, not to
"edu crats", consultants and managers.
More than 45% of the education
personnel we are paying for don't teach. The system
pays hundreds of millions of dollars to duplicate work
done in other Boards and by the Ministry.
Fundamental review is also
required of the duplication of services and staffing
among School Boards themselves.
Cuts in these areas will save
Ontario taxpayers at least $400 million.
There are currently 171 school
boards in the province. There are boards representing
English public schools, French public schools, English
separate schools and French separate schools. Most of
them run their own transportation services, do their
own planning and make their own purchases. Bureaucratic
barriers stand in the way of more cost-efficient methods
When the province of New Brunswick
reduced the number of school boards from 42 to 18, the
change saved five million dollars in the first year.
Of course, constitutional guarantees
of separate school education must be respected, while
at the same time, providing the best possible education
in the most effective manner.
With a core curriculum set
province-wide, and with standardized testing at all
levels, we know that we can spend more efficiently,
while improving the quality of education we offer to
Central to this reform will
be increased autonomy and decision- making for each
school, and a significantly increased role for parents
and community leaders.
Somehow, the system has lost
the idea that people run for school boards as a part-time
commitment to make education better for our children.
Too many of today's trustees have become full-time politicians
with a full-time salary, paid with our tax dollars.
Across Ontario, hospitals and universities with huge
budgets and charitable organizations with large client
bases are managed by volunteer boards. We are convinced
that top people will also help manage our schools without
being paid high salaries. We believe that our children's
education should be
overseen by citizens, not politicians. So, we will enter
into discussions with trustees and parents, to establish
new job descriptions and methods for remuneration.
3) Junior Kindergarten
The role of the primary school
system has been expanded over the last few years to
include much younger children. Government has continued
this trend by making Junior Kindergarten mandatory for
all primary schools as of the new school year in September.
There is growing uncertainty
among educators and parents about the wisdom of busing
three- and four-year old children and putting them in
formal classroom settings. Until a complete review has
been made of the impact of Junior Kindergarten, we will
allow school boards to opt out of the program.
4) Tuition Fees
Our universities and community
colleges have suffered from government's failure to
set priorities. A lack of sufficient funding has resulted
in lower quality service to students.
Providing proper funding will
mean charging students a fairer share of the costs of
the education they receive.
In 1992, a university student's
tuition fee represented only 19% of the total cost of
his or her education for the year. In the 1950's, by
contrast, tuition fees represented 35% of the total
operation costs of a university program. We propose
to partially de-regulate tuition over a two year period,
enabling schools to charge appropriately for their services.
This will enable Ontario taxpayers to save $400 million
while maintaining funding for our post-secondary system
at current levels.
Access to higher education
is central to our long-term economic potential as a
province. We will implement a new income-contingent
loan program, similar to othewrs being introduced around
the world. Our plan, to be called the Equal Opportunity
Education Fund, will mean that no student with appropriate
qualifications will be denied access to funding. Student
loans will be repaid in the years after graduation,
as a percentage of income on each student's provincial
income tax form. Because repayments under this program
are geared to future income, students will never be
required to repay more than they can afford.
Estimates differ on the total
cost of establishing such a plan. However, experts agree
that such programs, with strong private sector involvement,
can become self-financing in the medium to long-term
with considerable future savings to taxpayers.
We will work with all concerned
parties to ensure that this program will provide equality
of access to our essential post-secondary education
5) Number of School Years
Ontario is the only province
that still has a five-year secondary school program.
Reducing this to four years would save an estimated
$350 million a year.
This program would have to
be phased in, to allow time for curriculum schedules
to be changed and to make sure current secondary school
students are not affected. Any reductions in the number
of teachers required could be managed through attrition.
Increasing the number of school
days in a year from 185 to 190 would bring Ontario into
line with Alberta and British Columbia, and approximate
the instructional levels in Great Britain. The
quality of our secondary education would be protected.
e) Scrap the jobsOntario
The jobsOntario Training Program
has been an abysmal failure. It has placed less than
a third of the 100,000 person target.
The program has generated a
massive bureaucracy which seems determined to spend
its $1.1 billion dollar budget on itself without any
attention to results. This carelessness has resulted
in people such as a drug dealer in St. Catharines receiving
funding, and a large amount of jobsOntario cash simply
disappearing in a case now under police investigation.
The Provincial Auditor also began investigating jobsOntario,
but the Cabinet took over the program and put it under
its secrecy rules.
In some cases, the sloppy operation
of the program has resulted in employers laying off
permanent staff in order to take advantage of jobsOntario
wage subsidies. The net result is no increase in employment.
Fraud, abuse and misappropriation
of funds have marred this program beyond repair. A government
plan to spend millions of dollars more to advertise
jobsOntario and to bring in consultants will not solve
Scrapping this failed program
will result in savings of $340 million.
f) Cut Government Grants
We will cut business subsidies
and reduce government grants for total savings of $200
million. With increased economic activity, fewer subsidies
to business will be necessary. We will also cut the
bureaucracy involved in funding cultural and arts programs,
ensuring that money for such programs is directed more
to the artists, and less to the management structure.
With billions of tax dollars back in the hands of consumers
and businesses, we are confident that worthy causes
will find additional support in the private sector.
g) Reduce the Capital Budget
Using the recently created
Ontario Transportation Capital| Corporation, all capital
projects involving transportation would be consolidated,
including highway construction and capital spending
on GO Transit, municipal roads and transit, and airports.
At the same time, $300 million
will be trimmed from the Transportation Ministry's capital
budget. The Capital Corporation can then raise this
money on the private market.
h) Reform Government Housing
We will end the public housing
boondoggle that profits only the large property developers
and return to a shelter subsidy program for all Ontarians
who need help in affording a decent level of shelter.
This will eliminate the inefficiencies of government-owned
and -operated housing. By spending money on people instead
of bricks and mortar, we will be in a position to eliminate
the two-year waiting list for affordable housing.
Government subsidies currently
average nearly a thousand dollars a month for a two-bedroom
unit. The Provincial Auditor says the capital costs
of building the units are often far higher than market
value. By declaring a moratorium on non-profit building
in 1995 we will stop the growth of operating subsidies.
This will provide a savings
of $250 million over the first term of a Harris government.
We will also direct the Ontario
Realty Corporation to develop a plan to sell the more
than 84 thousand units owned by the Ontario Housing
Corporation. Our preferred approach would be to follow
the British "council house" model and offer the current
tenants the chance to own their own homes.
i) Reform Legal Aid
We will reform the legal aid
program, which currently permits repeat offenders continual
access to taxpayers' funds and pays excessive fees when
Ontario has a growing surplus of lawyers. We are willing
to examine all options to ensure continued access to
legal counsel for those in need, including a public
Funding for legal aid has doubled
in the last four years. Our target - the more reasonable
1989 levels of funding.
We will work with the Law Society
of Upper Canada to find these savings and use their
help to eliminate fraud and abuse in the Legal Aid system.
This will save Ontario taxpayers
III - REMOVING BARRIERS
Dismantling active barriers
to job creation, economic growth, savings and investment
represents the third element of this plan. The Ontario
Government has been driving jobs out of the province
through 10 years of ideologically-driven legislation
and over- regulation. No-one knows for sure how many
jobs these policies have cost us, but estimates range
up to the hundreds of thousands.
We do know that many businesses
looked at Ontario as a prospective location for expansion
or new investment, compared us to other provinces and
U.S. states, and then gave us a pass. It doesn't have
to be like this.
New Brunswick would have had
a much tougher time wooing employers, large and small,
ten years ago. The decision there to make some of the
same kind of economic reforms we are proposing here
has revitalized the economy of that province and made
it more competitive. The same thing has happened under
a Labour government in New Zealand.
We don't have time in Ontario
for a sterile political debate using the outdated labels
of "left" and "right". In our opinion, it is time to
stop the arguing and take the common sense, practical
steps we know will work here in Ontario.
That's what the Common Sense
Revolution is all about!
THE KEY STEPS
A) Cutting Payroll Taxes
We will eliminate the Employer
Health Tax on small businesses |with payrolls less than
$400,000. These businesses create some 80% of the new
jobs in Ontario. The costly burden of payroll taxes
is stifling employment gains here. It must be removed.
This tax cut will save Ontario's
small business sector an estimated $400 million and
help make them more competitive.
B) Eliminating Red Tape
Starting a company in Ontario
may mean going through as many as ten different government
departments or agencies. Every year, Ontario passes
up to a thousand new regulations. It's little wonder
that employers have to devote the equivalent of a month's
work every year completing forms and complying with
We will appoint an arms-length
commission on red tape to review all current regulations
affecting business. Any regulation which can't be justified
will be eliminated within 12 months of a Harris government
C) Reforming Ontario Hydro
A 5 year freeze will be placed
on Hydro rates to give consumers, employers and industries
guaranteed stability in planning their budgets. This
may mean more changes at Hydro including some moves
towards privatization of non-nuclear assets.
The current Hydro Chairman
has already begun to lead this huge corporation back
in the right direction. We will work with him, and many
others, to bring Hydro back to its proper role, providing
reliable and affordable electrical power to Ontario.
D) Cutting Workers Compensation
WCB premiums will be cut by
5%. This will save Ontario employers an estimated $98.5
million. We will also implement our previously published
six-point program for reforming the WCB, which will
eliminate the unfunded liability by 2014, as demanded
by the Employers' Council of Ontario. The WCB will have
to be revamped altogether to restore business confidence,
workers and bring fiscal sanity to the Board's operations.
E) Labour Law Reform
We will repeal the NDP's labour
legislation -- Bill 40 - in its entirety. Period. It's
a proven job killer. We will replace it with a better,
balanced labour law package that will restore the balance
between labour and management. We will also shift power
from labour bosses to union members, restore individual
choice and democratize internal union decision-making
by introducing secret balloting for certification and
F) Abolish Inter-Provincial
It has been estimated that
barriers to trade within Canada cost each Ontario family
as much as $1,000 a year in lost income. For years,
federal efforts to end these job-killing barriers have
failed. Ontario cannot afford to wait for the glacial
reform efforts of the federal government and certain
other provinces. We will initiate bilateral trade negotiations
with any interested province immediately after the next
We will break the current log-jam
by offering to work with any other government that is
willing to co-operate in driving down costs. For example,
we might share the costs of administration for transportation.
We will actively work to initiate such cost-effective
transactions at all levels of government.
G) Free Choice in Child
By ending the NDP's efforts
to nationalize all child care operations, we will open
more options for parents to choose the kind of care
they want for their children. This will encourage more
centres to open, allowing more single parents to find
the daycare spaces they need while working.
IV - DOING BETTER FOR
The people of Ontario have
been sending a clear message to government for many
years now, "We are not getting value for our money".
The fourth part of the Common
Sense Revolution will mean a sweeping change in
the attitudes of those inside government and the expectations
of all of us who consume its goods and services.
The fact is that each of us
invests more in government that we do in anything else
... our homes, our children's education or planning
for our retirement. We depend on the government to provide
us with some of the things we need most in life, such
as health care, community safety and education. And
yet, we don't demand the same quality of service from
government that we expect at the corner store.
In too many cases, wasteful
spending has become entrenched in the system. We will
weed it out.
All too often, public servants
are ignored or even punished for trying to improve the
system. We will reward them.
For too long, government has
grown larger and still failed to meet the needs of the
people. We will put people first.
Many of the things that government
does can be done cheaper, faster and better if the private
sector is involved. In England, property tax collection
and some welfare payments are being administered by
private sector firms. The result .... lower costs, higher
collections, less fraud AND more money for genuinely
needy recipients. In Michigan, just over the border,
every government function is being opened to private
Bids are welcome from anyone
who thinks they can do the same service better and cheaper.
The Common Sense Revolution
will have a significant impact on the way in which government
and its employees do business on a day-to-day basis,
because it will demand that government does business
LIKE a business. In other words, in an efficient and
productive manner that focuses on results and puts the
We will reduce the costs of
government administration. The same kind of innovations
being employed in the private sector are likely to produce
even greater savings when applied to government's bloated
We will look at creative ideas
for increasing the private sector's role.
We will create an expenditure
review committee called the "Fat- Finding" Commission
with a mandate to find waste that can be cut, and ways
of simplifying the government structure.
We estimate that this new initiative
will save Ontario taxpayers $500 million over two years.
The budgetary system within
the government bureaucracy must also be changed. Right
now, the system actually encourages the waste of public
funds. For example, a department must spend all of the
money allocated it in a fiscal year in order to get
full funding for the next year. This encourages wasteful
spending, particularly towards the end of each fiscal
year. Instead, departments should be encouraged to save
money and be rewarded for efficiency, not waste.
Another way we will prevent
wasteful spending is to legislate mandatory "sunset
clauses". A sunset clause is a requirement that when
a new government program is created, a set date for
termination of that program is included. As the date
approaches, the program is reviewed and either terminated,
changed, or continued.
There are other initiatives
we will take to encourage smarter spending. Performance
bonuses for all public servants will be based on both
results and savings to the taxpayer, and senior civil
servant salaries and benefits would be disclosed to
encourage greater accountability and restraint.
We will start pilot projects
measuring taxpayer satisfaction with a number of direct
services (e.g length of line-ups at driver's licence
offices) and explore ways to directly link a part of
public servants' pay to this measure. If leading, forward-
thinking businesses can make this shift, then government
can do it too. This change will be genuinely exciting
and genuinely revolutionary. We'll have attractive,
fast-tracked career paths in the Ontario government
for smart, efficient, change-oriented women and men
-- people genuinely committed to "public service".
We know there are many more
sound ideas for making government more efficient. The
Ontario Public Service Employees Union has developed
several common sense proposals for ending waste and
duplication. We will work with government employees,
listening to their ideas and eliciting their help in
Canadians are probably the
most over-governed people in the world. We do not need
every layer -- federal, provincial, quasi-governmental
bodies, regional, municipal and school board - that
we have now. We must rationalize the regional and municipal
levels to avoid the overlap and duplication that now
The example being set by a
Harris government, of a 24% reduction in the number
of MPPs and a 20% cut in non-priority spending, will
set the benchmark for municipal politicians and trustees.
We will sit down with municipalities to discuss ways
of reducing government entanglement and bureaucracy
with an eye to eliminating waste and duplication as
well as unfair downloading by the province.
Different solutions may well
apply in different regions across this province. But
by the end of our first term, taxpayers deserve a restructuring
of these cumbersome bureaucracies.
This will save Ontario taxpayers
Resolving the issue of efficient
local government will take a great deal of hard work.
It is rare that politicians and bureaucrats voluntarily
surrender power. But it must happen.
It's time to stop government
growth once and for all.
We will sell off some assets,
such as the LCBO and surplus government land, to the
private sector. We will actively explore the sale of
other assets, including TV Ontario. History has shown
that the private sector can use such assets more efficiently
and provide better service to the public.
We believe the value of such
assets is greater when being used to pay down the massive
provincial debt than sitting on the government books.
Marketable provincial assets
will be transferred to an arms-length corporation charged
with their sale. Strict criteria will be established
for selecting which assets we sell, and rigid guidelines
will be established for protecting the public interest.
When a deal for a sale is made,
it will be independently reviewed. A rigorous conflict
of interest policy will be enforced and the entire process
will be open to scrutiny by the Legislature and the
The money we make from such
asset sales will not go into the government accounts.
Every penny will go directly to pay down the $80 billion
V - A BALANCED BUDGET PLAN
Over the past ten years, tax-and-spend
economics have nearly tripled our provincial debt to
some $80 billion. That debt is now increasing by about
$10 billion every year.
Next year, we will have to
pay almost $8 billion in interest on the provincial
debt. We are now paying more for interest payments than
we do for social assistance.
It's obvious that immediate
action is needed. The longer we wait, the harder it
will be to stop the death spiral and begin paying off
our massive debt.
While this debt has damaged
Ontario's international credit rating and put our economy
in trouble, it is not too late to turn things around.
This plan will balance the
Ontario budget in four years. With more than half a
million Ontarians unemployed, jobs have to be the top
priority. But Ontario needs jobs today and jobs tomorrow.
We need a realistic plan for wiping out the deficit
and tackling our debt to stabilize our economy. That's
part of the good jobs climate we need to create in order
to attract new businesses and investment.
By balancing the budget, we
can also avoid future tax increases. In fact, we can
look forward to cutting taxes again down the road, even
as we start paying down the debt.
Like paying down your credit
cards, debt reduction means that interest charges are
reduced. We will start paying down the provincial debt
itself after four years, but before we can climb out
of the financial hole, we must first stop digging it
deeper every year.
Balancing the budget is tied
directly to every other measure in our plan. The tax
and spending reductions and the creation of more than
725,000 jobs will all combine to ease the financial
burden on government and bring the deficit down to zero.
That's what the Common Sense
Revolution is all about!
THE NEXT STEP - PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT
The Mike Harris plan exists
to create jobs. In order to do this, we need to make
some changes. We must get government spending under
control. Our goal is clear -- we will cut 20% of all
non-Health Care government spending.
Health care, law enforcement
and classroom funding won't be touched, but many other
programs will be affected. We haven't identified every
cent of cuts that we need to find to reach our goal,
but we have put $5.53 billion in specific proposals
on the table. That represents a reduction of about ten
percent in total government spending.
In order to meet our target,
we need to find approximately $500 million more. That's
less than 1% of the total our government currently spends
- not even one cent in every dollar. We believe we can
do that - with your help.
We are ready to listen, to
learn and to work with anyone who wants to join us and
who can show us more creative, more effective ways to
end waste and duplication.
Our commitment is carved in
stone -- A 20% cut in non- priority spending in 3 years.
But how we get there will be discussed in partnership
with all Ontarians.
This is the Common Sense
Revolution -- the plan to create jobs and turn Ontario
around. No hidden agenda. No juggling.
Just the straight, unvarnished
- The creation of more than
725,000 new jobs in the next five years;
- A 20% cut in non-priority
government spending, without touching the health care
- A 30% cut in provincial income
- The elimination of bureaucratic
barriers to jobs, growth and investment;
- Doing better for less;
- A balanced budget in four
We believe this plan represents
the best way to reach our destination -- more jobs,
lower taxes and less spending. It is the result of four
solid years of work by thousands of people from all
parts of the province. We are proud to put it on the
This is only the beginning.
We want this document to stimulate an open, vigorous
and honest discussion about Ontario's economic future.
Let us be very clear .... we are unconditionally committed
to reaching our goals, but we are very open to discussing
how we get there. If there are better ideas out there
about how to cut spending, reduce waste and improve
efficiency, we want to hear them!
When this plan is implemented
it will mean major change in Ontario. It's a Common
Sense Revolution in the way our province is run. That's
precisely why we have released the details of the plan
now - so that you can think it through, ask questions,
and perhaps help us find other, better ways to reach
We want you to join the
Common Sense Revolution. If you believe that it
is time to put Ontario on a different track .... If
you believe we urgently need hundreds of thousands of
new jobs.... If you believe that the way to get there
is by cutting spending, balancing our budget, and giving
you your money back in tax cuts so that you can be free
to work, compete, create and achieve -- then this fight
is YOUR fight.
That's what the Common Sense
Revolution is all about!
Join the Common Sense Revolution.
The policies in this plan have
been evaluated by Mark Mullins, Ph.D (Economics), Chief
Economist at Midland Walwyn, one of Canada's most respected
securities firms. His econometric model for Ontario
indicates that this plan is achievable and realistic.
We have been very conservative
in the assumptions we have made about the impact our
plan will have on economic growth. However, this same
conservative model tells us that this plan will enable
our economy to grow by more than 725,000 jobs -- real,
lasting productive employment opportunities for all
The combination of a 30% income
tax cut, a 20% spending reduction, the elimination of
job-killing government barriers, will make Ontario a
magnet for new investment and new jobs. It will get
people back to work and the economy moving again.