Photo Credit: Submitted
The return of passenger rail in central and northern Ontario did not make the budget cut.
It is a budget with a little something for everyone contends Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP, Norm Miller.
More importantly, he says, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli has set the course for getting the province’s balance sheet back on track.
Contributed photo of Norm Miller (centre) at Queen’s Park
“We’re on a path to a balanced budget because I think that’s important,” says Miller. “The reason a balanced budget is important is so we can afford to provide the services that people in Parry Sound Muskoka rely on.”
Some of the lighter lifting in the yesterday’s announcement included giving Ontarians an earlier first call for alcohol, something that was asked of Miller by a constituent.
“Don MacKay at Muskoka Highlands specifically asked me to ask for that change,” he reveals. “I said ‘Really people want to have a drink at 9:00am?’ “
He says MacKay responded saying they were bringing their own alcohol onto the course, so it is better to have it regulated.
Money for capital improvements to the Bracebridge and Huntsville hospitals also rated a mention though there was no specific dollar amount of the $384 million line item mentioned for Muskoka Algonquin Health Care.
“I was pleased to see that we made it into the pages of the budget so we are definitely on the radar for future development,” he says.
In terms of much talked about rail funding, while it is mentioned in the budget, the actual dollars are not committed to getting rail service improved in the north, with an eye to getting passenger service going in Muskoka once more.
“I was listening carefully as (Vic Fedeli) delivered the budget speech and he did specifically mention items to do with the north,” says Miller. “We would be looking at improving transportation including passenger rail and increased bus service. I hadn’t seen the specifics. I was pleased to see it mentioned because it is something I would like to see happen.”
Miller says the new benefit for child care will be important for parents in his riding.
“I think it’s perfect for Parry Sound Muskoka,” he offers. “It’s the most flexible program for child care that you could possibly have. Up to 75 per cent tax credit for families, for childcare. It can be used for whatever childcare you come up with, which in rural areas and with shift work is much more easy to access than licensed childcare situation which is not necessarily nearby or convenient for you.”
Dental care for seniors was another item Miller was pleased with.
“At least two-thirds of low-income seniors do not have access to dental care – and many end up in our emergency rooms as a result,” he says.