Ford says thought going into deficit fight

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Premier Doug Ford returned to Mildmay Wednesday for a dinner event and a wide-ranging speech where he highlighted his government’s efforts to reduce Ontario’s deficit and previewed the upcoming budget.

In the nearly 20 minute speech at the Mildmay Carrick Complex community hall, Ford said that in the April 11 budget “you’re going to see that we’re going to responsible and we’re going to be thoughtful.”

“It’s easy for any government to go in there to start slashing and cutting and everything,” he said. “We aren’t doing that.”

Ontario’s deficit is in the neighbourhood of $12.3 to $13.5 billion, with Peter Weltman, the province’s financial accountability officer, saying the $12 billion amount in December and Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli using the $13 billion amount more recently.

In September, Fedeli said that Ontario’s deficit was $15 billion, more than $8 billion higher than the former Liberal government indicated in their 2018 budget.


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Ford credited Fedeli and president of the treasury board, Peter Bethlenfalvy, as two of the “smartest financial minds” in Ontario in their work to balance the books.

“They’re watching every single dollar,” he said. “Peter watches all the money going out and Vic watches all the money coming in.”

Ontario Public Service Employee Union President Smokey Thomas said with Ford’s pledge to balance the books he’s worried about the contents of the upcoming budget.

“If he balances in four years, I can’t imagine how he can do it without causing human suffering the likes of which we’ve never seen,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

In Mildmay, Ford said that with the reorganization of health agencies in the province, including the elimination of Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), high-ranking administrators in the system would be gone.

The comments echoed what the premier said earlier in the day during a media availability in Cambridge.

“You know who’s going to lose their jobs? Unfortunately, the people in the LHINs, the CEOs that are making hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said in Cambridge.

Thomas said he’s supportive of Ford plan to reduce management in health care in Ontario, but is suspicious that government plans to balance the books will lead to more investment in more on the ground workers.

“Do you take those management savings and put it back into the front lines, which I hope he does, or do you take those savings in management and address your deficit budget?” Thomas said.


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The dinner event marked the second time that Ford has visited Mildmay. Last April, Ford visited the town in South Bruce on the campaign trail and said he was very encouraged by the response he received.

He joked at the dinner, which was put on by the Huron-Bruce Progressive Conservative Riding Association, that he would consider getting a cottage in the area, but not a house because “he could never fill MPP Lisa Thompson’s shoes.”

Thompson, MPP Randy Pettapiece, MP Ben Lobb, Huron-Kinloss Mayor and Bruce County Warden Mitch Twolan as well as Municipality of South Bruce Deputy Mayor Mark Goetz each spoke at the event.

Pat Jilesen, president of the Huron-Bruce PC Riding Association introduced the speakers.

Members of the media were only permitted to ask one question of Ford at the dinner.

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