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McGuinty and Ottawa's Immigration Support
13/02/2005

Dalton McGuinty, as reported in today's Ottawa Citizen, is continuing his attack against the federal government's redistribution of funds to other provinces. The topic this time is immigration. As quoted in the newspaper:

"I ask you: Why is it that an immigrant who lands in Montreal gets $3,800 of federal support, but an immigrant who lands here (in Ontario) gets just over $800 in federal support? How can that be fair?"

The article goes on to say that 54% of all immigrants to Canada last year, ended up in Ontario. (And the Toronto Star says 60%.)

McGuinty is further quoted as follows:

"What we're talking about is ensuring we can retain more of our own money so we can invest that money in the kinds of things (such as post-secondary education) that will enable us to generate more wealth, which is something that stands to the benefit of all Canadians," said Mr. McGuinty, who characterized Ontario as the "economic engine that drives this country."

"We are pleased to assume the responsibility that we have historically to support prosperity from coast to coast to coast, but at this time, we're just asking for a bit of fairness. Allow us to keep some of our money so we can make the investments."

All of which ought to sound a bit ironic to anyone paying attention to the situation of the cities in Ontario, particularly Toronto, which receives most of those immigrants to the province.

Social assistance and housing support -- which many immigrants rely on, at least somewhat in the initial years -- have both been partially downloaded onto municipalities.

Additionally, immigration increases the costs of education, but education funding was also changed in the late 1990s. Now, education is half funded by property taxes, which are pooled across the province and redistributed by formula. What this means is that home-owners in Toronto -- with its high property values -- pay much more while their schools don't get enough.

To Dalton I say, "What we're talking about is ensuring we can retain more of our money so we can invest that money in the kinds of things (such as education) that will enable us to generate more wealth, which is something that stands to the benefit of all Ontarians. Toronto is the economic engine that drives this province. We are pleased to assume the responsibility that we have historically to support prosperity provincewide, but at this time, we're just asking for a bit of fairness. Allow us to keep some of our money so we can make the investments."

Kudos for Dalton for taking this issue up with Ottawa. I really hope he makes some progress. I do hope his complaints bring us around to addressing the perversion of the Equalization system. But, if he does manage to get a fair share for Ontario, I hope he doesn't just pour it into the general fund, while leaving the municipalities to continue to deal with these special costs on their own.


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