Kingston NDP MPP calls Ontario budget ‘terrible’

The Conservative government released its first budget on Thursday afternoon, but no specific funding was highlighted in the document for the Kingston region.

In fact, Kingston is not mentioned even once in Ontario’s 2019 budget.

Local NDP MPP Ian Arthur said Kingston’s lack of acknowledgment is not exactly a bad sign for the city.

“We’ll continue to make investments as a community,” he said.

It’s the larger trends away from social services that Arthur claims could be potentially problematic.

“It’s a terrible budget, the Doug Ford Conservatives, they just don’t actually believe it’s their job to help folks.”

Arthur said overall, he feels the budget is too focused on cutting services that would affect the most vulnerable citizens in Ontario — he believes this spending plan will hurt children, students, Indigenous people and those living in rural and Northern Ontario.

One of the biggest threats to Kingston, Arthur said, is the announced changes to how colleges and universities will be funded.

So far, only a small proportion of funding has been linked to the performance of post-secondary institutions — 1.4 per cent for universities and 1.2 per cent for colleges — but that will go up to 60 per cent in the next five years.

The first year of the new agreements will tie 25 per cent of funding to performance, and that proportion will rise annually until 2024-25.

The plan will also include cutting almost $700 million in overall funding for post-secondary education.

“That’s scary for Kingston. We have three post-secondary institutions, and they’re going to be hard hit by this budget.”

Student assistance spending is also meant to go down from $2 billion to $1.4 billion, which could affect university and college students in the area, many of whom depend on that funding to attend post-secondary schools.

Nevertheless, the budget also outlines the previously announced plan to reduce tuition by 10 per cent at colleges and universities starting in the 2019–20 school year and freeze tuition fees for the 2020–21 school year.

When asked if he had seen anything good from the budget, Arthur answered:

“Haven’t found it yet. It’s going to hurt Ontario and it’s going to hurt folks who already have enough trouble affording life.”

— With files from The Canadian Press and Andrew Russell.

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