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Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty wants to reduce the province’s budget deficit with deep, painful cuts to public services. There is a better way. To get the conversation going, the Public Services Foundation of Canada has launched the Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness to reach out to your community and discuss alternatives. In person or in writing, the Commission wants to hear from you.

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Income inequality is main obstacle to building better public services, Commission report says

Reducing income inequality is the key step to maintaining quality public services in Ontario, according to an interim report released today by the Public Services Foundation of Canada (PSFC).

“Overwhelmingly, we heard that income inequality is a major cause of the current recession and why the recovery (in Ontario) is so weak,” Judy Wasylycia-Leis, chair of the Foundation, told news conferences in Toronto and Sudbury. Wasylycia-Leis, a former federal Member of Parliament, conducted public hearings across the province in January and February, where she heard evidence on the health of public services in Ontario and on how they can be sustained through progressive tax reform.

“Experts told us how increased inequality is linked to social problems that increase the cost of public services,” Wasylycia-Leis said. “”We heard that you don’t deal with the deficit in a way that fails to consider, or is indifferent to, the issue of income inequality and its associated costs.” Continue reading

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Ontario forfeits millions in taxes from mining industry, Commission told

Ontario could be collecting tens of millions of dollars more in mineral taxes but chooses instead to assess the industry at one of the lowest rates among Canadian jurisdictions, the Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness was told in Sudbury Feb. 9.

“Ontario is not always considered a resource-rich province and certainly it does not have a large oil and gas industry,” said Marie Kelly, former secretary-treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour. “However, Ontario has the most valuable mineral production of any Canadian province or territory – to the tune of $8 billion in 2010.

“In its own report, the Mining Association of Canada reveals that Ontario’s mining tax revenues were $82 million in 2010. In other words the mining industry’s own figures show that it paid the province little more than one per cent of the value of the minerals extracted from Ontario. That’s the lowest rate of return by any of Canada’s major mineral-producing jurisdictions.  Continue reading

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‘The storm is here … in rural Ontario’

If the McGuinty government moves ahead on the Drummond Commission’s likely recommendations to cut, eliminate and privatize many public services, the impact on rural Ontario will be devastating, the Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness was told today in Owen Sound.

Francesca Dobbyn, executive director for the United Way of Bruce Grey Counties, told the Commission that rural Ontario in this part of the province has witnessed a steady erosion of public services over the past 15 years and that any further cutbacks are certain to cripple an already broken system for thousands of local residents.

In a presentation she titled ‘The storm is here in rural Ontario,’ Dobbyn said more cutbacks in services will further “put at risk the riskiest among us.” Continue reading

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