QUEEN’S PARK — Mike Schreiner released the following statements on the PC budget:

On cuts to the environment
“It will be virtually impossible for this government to make good on its so-called Environment Plan after slashing the ministry budget for overseeing the environment by 36% or $352 million. Firing the independent environment watchdog was clearly a set-up move to censor criticism of these cuts.”

On $1 billion in cuts to community, children and social services
“This government has an empathy gap. Children have lost their independent advocate who would defend against these cuts, while people in poverty are being told to fend for themselves. This government also axed a Basic Income pilot that could have helped fix a broken system.”

On cuts to student aid and changes to post-secondary funding
“Students will feel the pain of a punishing $671 million drop in financial aid. Increasing the personal debt load of young people is not a responsible way to chip away at the deficit. Ontario already spends the lowest per-capita on post-secondary institutions in the country. Threatening to withhold 60% of funding is another unnecessary power grab.”

On transit
“The budget will hurt local transit by canceling the promised increase in gas tax revenue for municipalities. Ford’s focus on Toronto transit raises more questions than it answers, and it short changes rail service in the north and expanded GO service to places such as KW and Guelph.”

On the campaign to sabotage climate solutions
“I’m baffled that with everything we know about the climate emergency, this budget does more to sabotage climate solutions than it does to further climate action.”

On changes to alcohol and gambling laws
“The government failed to provide solutions for the climate, housing, and mental health crises, and instead wasted time and energy on booze, gambling and tailgate parties. On their own some of these changes are fine, but not at the expense of the critical challenges we face.”

On license plates
“It was unnecessary to rebrand public property with partisan colours. Premiers and parties come and go, so it’s sad this government felt entitled to slap its own colours and slogans everywhere.”

On paying off the deficit
“The Conservatives have doubled down on the Liberals’ UnFair Hydro Plan, leaving the biggest budget buster on the books at a price tag of $2.5-3 billion annually. This money could have avoided cuts to core services.

The government refuses to consider new revenue sources to sustainably finance what matters most. We continue to get one of the lowest returns in the country on our natural resources.”

On affordable housing
“The housing crisis was neglected in this budget, and a $367 million cut to the ministry responsible for housing does not inspire hope for future action. I’ve been calling for the province to restore funding to convert brownfield sites into affordable housing, but I’m concerned that instead they will pave over more farmland.”

On cuts to Indigenous Affairs
“It’s unconscionable that the Indigenous Affairs budget is being slashed in half. It sends the wrong message about the Premier’s commitment to reconciliation.”

On cuts to legal aid

“Depriving low-income people of access to justice is a cruel move. Our legal system already has so many structural disadvantages for people without money and advantages for people with money. This cut only worsens the disparity between those who can afford to stand up for their rights and those who cannot.”

On dental care for seniors
“I support progress towards universal dental care, starting with low-income seniors. But the government should look at raising the low income threshold so more seniors have access.”

On the child care tax credit
“Lowering child care costs for families is welcome, but a tax credit addresses just one half of the problem. The province must make good on creating hundreds of thousands of new child care spaces.”