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Federal Budget 2016

Budget needs Fairness Test: OPSEU

Toronto - Every Ontario budget should include a "Fairness Test" so the public can gauge its effects on income inequality, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

"Every government budget moves money around," Warren (Smokey) Thomas told the legislative committee studying the 2016 budget bill today. "Budgets take money out of some pockets and put it in others. The question is, for a given budget, does this make Ontario fairer, or less fair?

"We need to know the answer."

Under OPSEU's proposal, the province's Financial Accountability Officer would measure, each year, how the provincial budget re-allocates money to, or away from, particular groups in society.

"Where does the budget move money in relation to overall income inequality?" Thomas asked the committee. "How about in relation to gender? How about in relation to race, or disability?

"That's what a Fairness Test would tell us."

Recent Liberal budgets have contained huge transfers of wealth that have gone unnoticed by most Ontarians, Thomas said. Privatization, cuts to public services, and investments in infrastructure shift billions of public dollars every year.

"We are seeing a massive transfer of wealth from the public to private interests, especially private investors and major corporations. We are seeing a massive transfer of wages from the most female-dominated sector of the economy – the public sector – to the most male-dominated sector – the construction sector.

"By instituting a Fairness Test, and by having the Financial Accountability Officer report annually on the results, Ontarians would get a new window into what's really happening with their money."

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