On June 1, 2010, Leader of the Opposition, Tim Hudak and Joyce Savoline, MPP continued to question the McGuinty Liberal Government about HST. Their focus was senior citizens and condo owners.
Here are some of the excerpts from the questions and the answers (which, in my view, do not respond to the questions asked):
Mr. Tim Hudak: Back to the Acting Premier: Not only are people in the Yellow Shirt Brigade and other seniors across the province losing access to key ER services like in Fort Erie and Port Colborne, they're worried about the impact of the HST in one month's time. The HST greedy tax grab kicks in on Canada Day. Today marks the beginning of Seniors' Month, and how is Dalton McGuinty celebrating? Well, not in the Legislature today. He's interested in punishing seniors. The Premier is putting a new tax on mutual funds, which means less income in retirement. He's putting a new tax on condo fees, 8% on gas for their cars, snow removal, lawn care, home repairs, Internet, entertainment etc.
Why is the Premier closing down ER services and also raising the taxes on seniors in their retirement?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I know my colleague is going to want to comment on the HST.
I want to just make a comment, first of all, about what we have done for seniors, because the member opposite is saying that this government has not paid attention to the needs of seniors, and that is not true.
The most recent example that this party is not supportive of the initiatives we've put in place to help seniors is that they are in opposition to reducing the price of generic drugs. We are working very hard to make sure that seniors get the medications they need at a price that's reasonable, and the party opposite is not supportive of that.
On top of creating 8,000 new long-term-care beds, creating a new Ontario sales tax for seniors, doubling the Ontario home property tax for seniors, we have got a basket of measures to support seniors. The party opposite has not supported any one of those.
Mr. Tim Hudak: The minister asks what you've done to seniors. Well, Minister, you've closed the ERs for seniors in Niagara. You're bent on closing down community pharmacies and interrupting that dependent relationship between seniors and their community pharmacists. Now you're putting in smart meters that say to seniors, who have fought in the wars, who helped us through the Depression, who have built this great province, "Well, too bad. Wash your clothes at 11 p.m. Do your dishes at 10 p.m. We don't care."
The PC Party does not share that view, and we will continue to stand up and fight for seniors in this province.
What happens on Canada Day? A new tax on home heating, energy conservation retrofits, taking the dog or cat to the vet, cable, haircuts, vitamins. How much more can seniors take in Dalton McGuinty's Ontario? Won't the minister please stand up and say you're not going to go through with this massive tax-
Hon. John Wilkinson: Millions of seniors and millions of Ontarians are going to receive billions of dollars over the next year courtesy of our agreement with the federal government. The PC Party voted against that. On July 1, seniors will receive their enhanced property tax credit. We're doubling that credit, a credit that you voted against in the first place, and you voted against the doubling. That is for seniors. And then there are many seniors who, in August, will start to qualify for the new Ontario HST rebate that your party voted against.
Let's make sure the seniors know the whole story on this file. Yes, indeed, we are reforming our tax system. This side of the House has a plan to create 600,000 more jobs in this province, and your side of the House doesn't. Seniors rely on their public services. It requires a vibrant economy, an economy like Ontario leading Canada and leading in the world-
Mr. Tim Hudak: Dalton McGuinty is punishing Ontario seniors with his HST tax grab on hotel stays, gas for their cars, gym memberships and dry cleaning. The auditor's report today shows that Liberal insiders at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. racked up millions of dollars expensing the same items: hotels, cars, limousines, spa visits, clothing, lavish hospitality. So when seniors want to see the local community play, you're going to nail them with the HST increase while your friends at the OLG go to see Detroit luxury suites, the Air Canada Centre, season's tickets etc., running up the bills. Why do you have one rule for Liberal insiders and a different rule for hard-working retired Ontario seniors?
Hon. Dwight Duncan: I am delighted that we have changed the expense policies that were put in place by the government you were a part of. That member, when he was a minister, expensed $1,000 a month for alcohol and partying-more than any of the officials covered by this.
We took action last year and addressed the problems before the auditor's report. I called the auditor in to do this.
The other point I would make is that those changes-the new board, the new executives we brought in are cleaning this up. We welcome the auditor. We asked him to do this. He did a thorough report. We're delighted with the findings. We've taken the right steps with Paul Godfrey and the new board to make sure none of this happens again.
Mrs. Joyce Savoline: To the Acting Premier: Dalton McGuinty's HST on condominium fees will make housing less affordable for Ontario seniors and families. Members of the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario, who are here with us today, advocate for seniors and families who will have to pay Dalton McGuinty's HST tax grab. They tell us that many seniors already live on a fixed income. Families tell us that up to half of their take-home pay is going to the mortgage, the condo fee and property taxes.
What does Dalton McGuinty expect seniors and families to sacrifice when he starts taxing them more on July 1?
There is no HST on condominium fees or on rents for people.
I know that the-So let's put that canard to rest.
The second thing we have to look at is, the condo managers are here, and we welcome you to Queen's Park. Your responsibility is to provide the very best value for your residents. I withdraw. That's good. It is a duck, Mr. Speaker.I say to the managers, you've been entrusted by your residents to get the best value. For those companies that will have to charge your condominium corporation more money, their cost of business is going down.
I know that if I was in a condominium, I would expect my condominium manager to get the best value. Also, it's important to understand that the residents themselves have an enhanced property tax credit, some $270 million because of the work of the Minister of Finance. For those who are seniors, they are receiving an enhanced property tax credit as well-all designed to-
Mrs. Joyce Savoline: The minister should not split words. It would behoove him not to split words and know that condo fees will go up because of all the maintenance costs and everything else that gets rolled into them.
Dalton McGuinty's HST on condo fees is not the only way you're punishing seniors. According to the Ontario Home Care Association, seniors will pay $315 a year more for Dalton McGuinty's HST on home care. That's a hard number. Because you haven't created any long-term-care beds, seniors are forced to look at retirement homes as an alternative. Operators say that HST will add to the cost of utilities, renovations, maintenance and nursing attendant care.
Why is Dalton McGuinty punishing seniors with his HST?
Hon. John Wilkinson: Seniors have been around a long time, and they're pretty sharp. They understand that there are two things they need to take into account: which things are going to be affected by a change in sales tax, and what the benefits are that they each personally receive from our tax reform in regard to income.
I remind seniors that the vast majority of them will be receiving a tax-fee transitional cheque in June, December and next June; that they have, if they have income, already received a personal income tax cut that came in in January; that seniors who are struggling because of low income will be qualifying for the Ontario sales tax benefit, which is in addition to the GST rebate.
I know that when seniors take a look at the big question, they understand that our world has changed. They understand that they are, more than others, dependent on high-quality public services, and that we cannot have those high-quality public services if we have chronically high unemployment. That's why our government has taken this step to ensure that there is plenty of employment in this province. People paying- [Note - I have not forgotten part of the answer]