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“But prosperity will prove elusive, unless $12-billion that flows out of Ontario
annually is used at home – to retrain unemployed workers, to expand public transit
in Greater Toronto and to supply the needed roads, energy and Internet without
which Northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire, touted as the most promising Canadian mining
development in a century, will never reach its full potential.” (John Ibbitson)
If it were simply a question of dollars and cents, Ontario should separate from Canada, now. This is emphatically not the conclusion of a new report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on the punishment that Ottawa inflicts on Canada’s economic heartland. But so damning is the evidence contained in that report that the sentiment is hard to suppress.
A copy of “A Federal Agenda for Ontario”, released Thursday, was provided in advance to The Globe and Mail. It details the manifold ways in which federal policies punish Ontario workers and the Ontario economy.
‘Twas ever thus, but at least in the past Ontario was wealthy enough to bear the burden. No more. “Ontario needs to think of how it can reinvent itself and reinvent its economy,” Allan O’Dette, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview.
The province, he maintains, cannot retool its manufacturing industries, retrain its work force and renew its infrastructure while spending billions each year to prop up other regions of the country. “We need to think of a more modern and appropriate approach” to the federal-provincial fiscal arrangement, he maintained.
Consider a few of the ways in which the federal government robs the goose that is no longer golden (the data is taken from the OCC report):
Even though the unemployment rate in Ontario is almost a full percentage point above the national average, and has been for years, EI rules make it harder for Ontario workers to qualify for benefits than workers in any other province. Every year, Ontario workers contribute $1.2-billion more to EI than they receive in benefits.
Although Ontario hosts 42 per cent of all the unemployed workers in Canada, it receives only 28 per cent of federal labour market development funds.
Ontario has the largest aboriginal population of any province. Inadequate federal funding (an annual shortfall of $100-million, in Ontario’s case) contributes to substandard on-reserve elementary schools. “The underfunding of on-reserve elementary schools often means that students arrive at the secondary level with acute remedial needs,” the report observes.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/why-ontario-has-a-strong-economic-case-for-seceding-from-canada/article6296852/%3bjsessionid=LSgLQKCRKByQyLRp6TJcyVHdtcylvBqpp0pCGLPLpgyvYmLWSp2T!-1173911843/?ord=1