Transcript: Ontario Budget 2021: Opposition Parties React | Mar 24, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, checkered blue shirt, and blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Ontario Budget 2021: Opposition parties react."

Steve says ANY BUDGET DEFINES A GOVERNMENT'S PRIORITIES, WHICH OPPOSITION PARTIES CAN, AND DO, TAKE ISSUE WITH. BUT GIVEN THAT MUCH OF WHAT'S IN THIS YEAR'S ONTARIO BUDGET COMES DOWN TO COVID-19, DOES THAT STILL HOLD TRUE? LET'S FIND OUT. WERE GOING TO ASK, ALL IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: CATHERINE FIFE, NDP FINANCE AND TREASURY BOARD CRITIC, AND THE MPP FOR WATERLOO...

Fife is in her forties, with long straight brown hair. She's wearing a magenta blazer, white shirt and silver earrings.

Steve continues MITZIE HUNTER, LIBERAL FINANCE CRITIC AND THE MPP FOR SCARBOROUGH-GUILDWOOD...

Hunter is in her forties, with chin-length curly brown hair. She's wearing a white blazer and a red blouse.

Steve continues AND MIKE SCHREINER, LEADER OF THE GREEN PARTY OF ONTARIO AND THE MPP FOR GUELPH. GOOD TO HAVE YOU THREE OPPOSITION REPRESENTATIVES WITH US HERE THIS EVENING.

Schreiner is in his early fifties, clean-shaven, with short, receding brown hair. He's wearing glasses, a blue suit, white shirt and checked green tie.

Steve continues CAN I JUST START, CATHERINE FIFE, YOU'RE THE OFFICIAL OPPOSITION, WE'LL START WITH YOU. INITIAL REACTION TO SOMETHING JUST HEARD IN PETER BETHLENFALVY'S INTERVIEW?

The caption changes to "Catherine Fife. NDP MPP, Waterloo."
Then, it changes again to "At first glance."

Fife says LISTEN, I WANT TO SAY RIGHT OFF THE TOP THAT WE WERE VERY ENCOURAGED TO SEE THAT THERE WAS SOME FUNDING FOR VACCINATIONS. NOBODY IN THIS PROVINCE BELIEVES THAT THE VACCINATION ROLLOUT IS GOING WELL. BUSINESSES, HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS, EDUCATORS HAVE SAID, LISTEN, WE NEED TO GET THIS RIGHT AND WE NEED TO GET NEEDLES IN ARMS. SO 1 BILLION DOLLARS, HOPEFULLY THIS HELPS THE RACE AGAINST THE VARIANTS IS REAL, AND WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE ARE KEPT SAFE. THAT SAID, WE WOULD HAVE SEEN SOME VERY STRATEGIC INVESTMENT IN KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE, THAT, YOU KNOW, THE MINISTER JUST REFERENCED. FOR MANY DAYS NOW, MANY MONTHS, ACTUALLY, WE'VE BEEN FIGHTING FOR PAID SICK DAYS. AND LISTEN, STEVE, IF PEOPLE ARE STILL GOING TO WORK SICK IN BRAMPTON AND PEEL AND MISSISSAUGA AND KW, THEN WE'RE NOT GOING TO GET THROUGH THIS THIRD WAVE. SO WE UNDERSTAND THAT THERE WAS STRATEGIC INVESTMENT. THIS WAS A MISSED OPPORTUNITY ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT. IF THERE WAS EVER A TIME TO BE BOLD AND AMBITIOUS WITH ANY BUDGET, IT WOULD BE THIS ONE, AND THE FEDERAL PROGRAM ON SICK DAYS IS UNDER SUBSCRIBED. IT IS NOT WORKING. LET'S MAKE SURE WE DON'T HAVE ANOTHER LOCKDOWN. THAT'S WHAT BUSINESSES HAVE TOLD US. THAT'S WHAT HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS HAVE TOLD US. AND SO THIS REALLY, UNFORTUNATELY, WAS A MISSED OPPORTUNITY. THEY WOULD HAVE HAD OUR FULL SUPPORT. AND, YOU KNOW, IN THIS "WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER" SORT OF MOMENT, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY ENCOURAGING FOR US TO SEE.

The caption changes to "For more Ontario Budget 2021 coverage, go to: TVO.org."

Steve says MITZIE HUNTER, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SEEN IN THAT INTERVIEW THAT YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHALLENGE?

The caption changes to "Mitzie Hunter. Liberal MPP, Scarborough-Guildwood. Liberal Finance Critic."

Hunter says OH, THERE'S A LOT THAT I SEE IN THE INTERVIEW THAT I WOULD LIKE TO CHALLENGE. FIRST OF ALL, I THINK THE WHOLE BUDGET IS A SWING AND A MISS, BECAUSE THIS WAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO FOCUS ON THE THINGS THAT WILL SET ONTARIO UP FOR A STRONG RECOVERY. YOU KNOW, WE FIRST HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE CRISIS AND THE PANDEMIC. I AGREE THAT THE MINISTER SAYS THAT'S THE JOB RIGHT NOW. BUT ONCE WE HAVE EVERYONE VACCINATED, WE HAVE TO LOOK AT THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY. AND THERE ARE KEY PRIORITIES THAT ONTARIO FAMILIES HAVE: INVESTMENTS IN EDUCATION, MAKING SURE WE DON'T LEAVE ANYONE BEHIND. THAT WE CLOSE THOSE LEARNINGS GAPS THAT HAVE OCCURRED BECAUSE STUDENTS HAVE BEEN OUT FOR A YEAR OF DISRUPTED LEARNING. WE ALSO... YOU KNOW, WE KNOW THAT WOMEN AND RACIALIZED GROUPS HAVE BEEN THE HARDEST HIT FROM THE PANDEMIC. AND WHERE IS THE SPECIFICITY IN THIS BUDGET TO ADDRESS THOSE CONCERNS THAT ARE OBVIOUS? YOU KNOW, SO THE MISSED OPPORTUNITY IS THAT WE COULD HAVE MADE A GENERATIONAL INVESTMENT IN CHILD CARE. WE COULD HAVE RECOGNIZED THE CLIMATE CHANGE CRISIS AND MADE THIS A RECOVERY THAT IS A GREEN RECOVERY. THERE ARE SO MANY ASPECTS TO THIS BUDGET THAT JUST WAS VERY OBVIOUS, AND IT LACKED VISION, IT ALSO, YOU KNOW, PINS ITS HOPE ON AN ECONOMY THAT IS GROWING, BUT IT DOESN'T ACTUALLY DO THE HARD WORK OF MAKING THE INVESTMENT TODAY THAT PRODUCES THAT ECONOMIC RECOVERY IN THE FUTURE.

Steve says MIKE SCHREINER, YOUR REACTION?

The caption changes to "Mike Schreiner. Green Party of Ontario Leader. Green MPP, Guelph."

Schreiner says YEAH, I JUST THINK THE GOVERNMENT IS BLIND TO THE REALITY ONTARIANS ARE FACING. TO THINK THAT THEY'VE CUT 4.8 BILLION DOLLARS IN THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR AT A TIME WHEN WE'RE GOING INTO THE THIRD WAVE OF COVID, WE'RE DEALING WITH THE FALLOUT FROM THE PANDEMIC, IT APPEARS TO ME THAT THE FINANCE MINISTER LEFT A FEW CHAPTERS OF HIS BUDGET AT THE PRINTER'S. THEY MENTION THE CLIMATE CRISIS TWICE, HOMELESSNESS TWICE. LET'S FACE IT, STEVE, PEOPLE NEED SUPPORT TO GET THROUGH THIS PANDEMIC, AND THEY'RE GOING TO NEED SUPPORT FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY. WE KNOW PEOPLE NEED SUPPORT FOR MENTAL HEALTH. THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T EVEN MEET ITS OWN ANNUAL PROJECTED SPENDING FOR THAT. THEY CUT PUBLIC EDUCATION BY 790 MILLION DOLLARS NEXT YEAR. THEY HAVE NOT PUT FORWARD A PLAN FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY ALIGNS ADDRESSING THE CLIMATE CRISIS. FINALLY THEY'RE NOT ADDRESSING OR PUTTING THE MONEY INTO THINGS WE NEED LIKE SUPPORTIVE HOUSING AND OTHER WAYS TO ADDRESS THE HOUSING AFFORDABILITY CRISIS ACROSS THE PROVINCE.

Steve says HAVING SAID THAT, CATHERINE FIFE, THEY ARE GOING TO SPEND 173 BILLION DOLLARS NEXT YEAR. ARE YOU SAYING THAT WASN'T ENOUGH?

The caption changes to "Catherine Fife. NDP Finance and Treasury Board Critic. @CFifeKW."
Then, it changes again to "Diving in."

Fife says I'M SAYING THAT TO DATE, ACTUALLY, THEY HAVE PREDICTED THAT THEY WERE GOING TO SPEND MONEY ON... FOR INSTANCE, LAST YEAR'S BUDGET ALSO HAD A BROADBAND INVESTMENT. THAT MONEY DIDN'T GET SPENT. WHAT WE HAVE SEEN CONSISTENTLY FROM THIS GOVERNMENT IS THAT THEY SAY THAT THEY'RE GOING TO COME TO THE TABLE WITH SOME MONEY. WE'VE HEARD THE PREMIER SAY EVERYTHING IS ON THE TABLE. WELL, IT'S A PRETTY SMALL TABLE. AND MOST OF THOSE THINGS GOT KNOCKED OFF AS THE FISCAL SITUATION IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO GOT WORSE. SO THE 173 WITH THIS GOVERNMENT MEANS THAT YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW THE MONEY. YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY'RE ACTUALLY INVESTING. I MEAN, I DID AN INTERVIEW EARLIER TODAY AND THEY SAID THEY WERE INVESTING IN EDUCATION. THIS YEAR ALONE, 170 MILLION DOLLARS IS COMING OUT OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM. AND ALSO REMEMBER, PLEASE, STEVE, THAT PRIOR TO THE PANDEMIC, THIS WAS A GOVERNMENT THAT WAS CUTTING PUBLIC HEALTH, HEALTH CARE, AND EDUCATION. THEY WERE ON A FULL-ON ASSAULT AGAINST THOSE PUBLIC SERVICES. AND WE NOW KNOW THAT THERE IS A VERY STRONG CONNECTION BETWEEN KEEPING PEOPLE HEALTHY AND KEEPING THE ECONOMY GOING. SO WHY NOT BE VERY STRATEGIC IN KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE ON A GO-FORWARD BASIS SO THAT WE DON'T END UP HAVING TO SHUT DOWN THE ECONOMY AGAIN BECAUSE WE ARE IN A THIRD WAVE. WE HAVE 1500 MORE CASES TODAY IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. THIS BUDGET DOES NOT RECOGNIZE OR ACKNOWLEDGE THE WORK THAT IS ALREADY HAPPENING IN HEALTH CARE, THE STRESS THAT IS ALSO ON THAT SYSTEM, OR THE STRESSES ACTUALLY HAPPENING IN OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM.

Steve says THERE HAVE BEEN, THOUGH, MITZIE HUNTER, CALLS FROM A LOT OF QUARTERS TO RAISE TAXES, PARTICULARLY ON WEALTHIER PEOPLE, IN ORDER TO RAISE MORE MONEY TO SPEND MORE MONEY. THEY HAVEN'T RAISED TAXES HERE. DO YOU THINK THAT WAS A GOOD MOVE?

The caption changes to "Mitzie Hunter, @MitzieHunter."

Hunter says WELL, I DON'T SEE THE ROOM TO RAISE TAXES DURING THE MIDST OF A HEALTH PANDEMIC. WE'VE HAD 220,000 PEOPLE LOSE THEIR JOBS. AND SO IT'S JUST NOT THE RIGHT TIME TO BE TALKING ABOUT THAT. BUT, YOU KNOW, THIS GOVERNMENT DOES PURPORT TO HAVE A BUDGET THAT BALANCES AT THE END OF THIS DECADE, AND IT CONCERNS ME BECAUSE, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE ASSUMPTIONS, YOU KNOW, THE GROWTH IN PROGRAMS IS JUST, YOU KNOW, AT ABOUT 7.7 percent OVER SIX YEARS, AND THAT DOES NOT EVEN KEEP UP WITH THE NORMAL RATE OF INFLATION OR THE NORMAL GROWTH IN OUR POPULATION AND JUST THE NORMAL DEMAND. AND THEY ALSO HAVE A VERY BOLD ASSUMPTION OF 21 percent GROWTH IN REVENUE OVER THOSE SIX YEARS, AND I WOULD SAY, WELL, WHERE IS THAT GOING TO COME FROM? SO THE ASSUMPTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN PUT FORWARD, YOU KNOW, THEY HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF MAGICAL THINKING TO THEM, AND IT DOES, IN MY VIEW, SIGNAL A PRETTY HORRIFIC SITUATION THAT WE COULD BE IN SHOULD THEY RETAIN, YOU KNOW, POWER AFTER THE NEXT ELECTION, BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO MEAN AUSTERITY AND A REDUCTION IN SERVICES THAT ONTARIANS WOULD RELY ON, WHETHER IT'S IN LONG-TERM CARE OR IN THE HEALTH SYSTEM IN TERMS OF HOSPITALS. WE KNOW THAT WE HAVE ENORMOUS BACKLOGS RIGHT NOW. THE ONTARIO MEDICAL ASSOCIATION HAS PUT THAT OUT. WE HAVE YEARS' WORTH OF BACKLOG, IN FACT, BECAUSE OF THE SITUATION THAT THE PANDEMIC HAS CAUSED, AND THE INVESTMENTS THAT ARE PUT FORWARD IN THIS BUDGET DOES NOT MEET THE NEED, AND THAT'S THE CONCERN THAT WE HAVE.

Steve says WELL, I DO WANT TO FOLLOW UP ON THAT ISSUE OF TAX INCREASES WITH MIKE SCHREINER, BECAUSE I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT ONE FORMER CONSERVATIVE FINANCE MINISTER, ADMITTEDLY FROM FOUR DECADES AGO, HAD A MEETING WITH PETER BETHLENFALVY, I'M TALKING ABOUT DARCY MCKEOUGH, AND HE SAID YOU COULD RAISE THE GST OR HST BY TWO POINTS AND THERE PROBABLY WOULDN'T BE A BIG POLITICAL PRICE TO PAY AND IT WOULD HELP YOU WITH THE SPENDING YOU NEED TO DO. OBVIOUSLY THE MINISTER CHOSE NOT TO DO THAT. DO YOU THINK HE SHOULD HAVE?

Schreiner says YOU KNOW, STEVE, AT A TIME WHEN WE'RE FACING A ONCE-IN-A-CENTURY PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS THAT HAS LED TO A SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, I DON'T THINK NOW IS THE TIME TO BE PINCHING PENNIES, LOOKING AT RAISING TAXES, OR THE 4.8 BILLION DOLLAR CUT THE CONSERVATIVES ARE BRINGING IN. NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE INVESTMENTS. I CAN TELL YOU AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU BORROW MONEY TO MAKE INVESTMENTS AND YOU HAVE TO MAKE SMART INVESTMENTS SO YOU HAVE A GOOD RETURN ON INVESTMENT, AND THAT'S EXACTLY THE PLACE ONTARIO IS RIGHT NOW. AND SO THE CHALLENGE IS THE FACT THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS CUTTING TOO EARLY WHEN WE'RE NOT OUT OF THE PANDEMIC YET BECAUSE WE KNOW GETTING THE PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS UNDER CONTROL IS THE BEST WAY TO GET OUR ECONOMIC RECOVERY TO HAPPEN, AND THE FACT THAT THERE'S NOTHING IN THIS BUDGET REALLY TALKING ABOUT WHAT ECONOMIC RECOVERY CAN LOOK LIKE. LET ME JUST GIVE YOU ONE EXAMPLE. TO THE FINANCE COMMITTEE, MANY PEOPLE SAID INVEST IN A GREEN RETROFIT PROGRAM, IT WILL CREATE JOBS AND HELP WITH THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY. IF THE PROVINCE PUTS IN 5 BILLION DOLLARS, THAT WILL LEVERAGE 80 BILLION DOLLARS IN INVESTMENT, CREATE JOBS, HELP BUSINESSES AND PEOPLE SAVE MONEY BY SAVING ENERGY, AND REDUCING CLIMATE POLLUTION ALL AT THE SAME TIME. BUT THE FINANCE MINISTER LEFT THAT CHAPTER OF THE BUDGET AT THE PRINTER'S, BECAUSE I DIDN'T SEE IT TODAY.

Steve says CATHERINE FIFE, IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE SEEN IN THE BUDGET BUT YOU DIDN'T SEE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Fife says THERE IS SO MUCH. LISTEN, THE CARE TAX CREDIT THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS SHOPPING OUT AS A SOLUTION TO GET WOMEN BACK INTO THE WORK FORCE AND WE KNOW THAT WOMEN HAVE BEEN DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED, IS NOT GOING TO WORK. BECAUSE THOSE CHILD CARE SPACES DO NOT EXIST. SO IF THE GOVERNMENT TRULY UNDERSTOOD THAT IF YOU DO INVEST IN EARLY EARNING AND CARE, FOR EVERY DOLLAR THERE'S A 7 RETURN TO THE ECONOMY, THIS WOULD BE A SMART INVESTMENT. OUR GREEN NEW DEMOCRATIC DEAL ALSO HAS A RETROFITTING PLAN. LET'S GET SMALL BUSINESSES BACK TO WORK IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES. THE MINISTER MENTIONED PROCUREMENT, STEVE. WE HAVE AN AMAZING COMPANY IN KITCHENER-WATERLOO CALLED CANADIAN SHIELD. THEY DID EXACTLY WHAT THE GOVERNMENT ASKED THEM TO DO AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC, THEY CREATED PPE LOCALLY, QUALITY PPE, AFFORDABLE. THEY CAN'T GET THEIR PRODUCT INTO OUR OWN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. SO, YOU KNOW, THERE ARE SOME LOW HANGING FRUIT THAT MAKES PERFECT SENSE. WE SHOULDN'T BE CREATING JOBS IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS; WE SHOULD BE CREATING JOBS RIGHT HERE IN ONTARIO.

Steve says MITZIE HUNTER, I WONDER, AS YOU LOOK AT THE PATH BACK TO BALANCE, AND I ASK YOU AS I GUESS A FORMER JUNIOR FINANCE MINISTER IN ONTARIO, HOW CONCERNED SHOULD WE BE THAT THIS PROVINCE PLANS TO TAKE ON BILLIONS AND BILLIONS MORE IN DEBT BY THE TIME WE ACTUALLY GET TO THE END OF THE DECADE WHEN THEY SAY THE BUDGET WILL BE BALANCED. ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THAT?

Hunter says I MEAN, IT IS CONCERNING BECAUSE YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WE CAN AFFORD TO DO IN TERMS OF OUR NET DEBT TO GDP, SO THE SIZE OF OUR ECONOMY RELATIVE TO OUR SPENDING. AND I DID TAKE A LOOK AT THAT LINE AND IT LOOKS AS IF IT'S STAYING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND GETTING UNDER THE 50 percent MARK. SO, YOU KNOW, I HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THE PEOPLE OF ONTARIO. THE FINANCE MINISTER SAID EARLIER THAT THEY WANT TO BE NUMBER ONE IN GROWTH IN NORTH AMERICA. WELL, YOU KNOW, WE'VE EXPERIENCED THAT UNDER THE FORMER LIBERAL GOVERNMENT, WE WERE NUMBER ONE IN THE OECD IN TERMS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH AND WE HAD THE LOWEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN A DECADE... IN 40 YEARS, ACTUALLY, AND WE ALSO HAD THE NUMBER ONE JURISDICTION FOR FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT. SO I BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE TO HAVE THOSE AMBITIONS FOR OUR PROVINCE, BUT THEY ONLY COME WITH THE RIGHT SETS OF PRIORITIES, AND I CAN'T EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. WE CANNOT HAVE A RECOVERY WHERE PARTS OF OUR POPULATION, YOU KNOW, ADVANCES AND BOUNCES BACK QUICKLY WHILE OTHERS LAG. WE TALK ABOUT BUILDING BACK BETTER. WELL, THAT HAS TO HAPPEN TOGETHER. AND THAT'S WHERE THIS BUDGET FALLS SO FAR SHORT, THAT THERE ARE SO MANY GROUPS THAT HAVE BEEN DISPROPORTIONATELY IMPACTED BY THIS PANDEMIC. YOU LOOK AT THE EFFECTS ON, FOR INSTANCE, RACIALIZED COMMUNITIES, YOU LOOK AT THE EFFECTS ON WOMEN, ON YOUTH. YOU KNOW, OUR YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS AT 22 percent, AND THERE'S NO VISION IN THIS BUDGET FOR THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN ONTARIO TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY DON'T HAVE A LAGGING, SCARRING EFFECT FROM THIS CURRENT ECONOMIC RECESSION THAT WE'RE FACING. AND SO, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER, AND IF WE'RE GOING TO HAVE DEFICITS FOR YEARS TO COME, THEN THEY HAD BETTER BE SPENT WISELY AND SETTING US UP FOR A BETTER FUTURE AND NOT LEAVING ANYONE BEHIND.

Steve says MIKE SCHREINER, LET ME PLAY DEVIL'S ADVOCATE HERE. I'M LOOKING AT SOME OF THE BUDGET PAPERS HERE RIGHT NOW, A COVID-19 CHILD BENEFIT, THEY'RE GOING IN FOR A THIRD ROUND OF THAT, THE SENIORS' HOME SAFETY TAX CREDIT, THEY'RE GOING TO BRING THAT IN TO HELP SENIORS STAY IN THEIR HOMES LONGER. A JOBS TRAINING TAX CREDIT TO LET PEOPLE GO BACK TO SCHOOL IF THEY WANT TO. THEY HAVE A SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT GRANT, 10,000 TO 20,000 GRANTS. I MEAN, DOES THAT MEAN ANYTHING FOR YOU?

The caption changes to "Mike Schreiner, @MikeSchreiner."
Then, it changes again to "What's on the horizon?"

Schreiner says WELL, ONE OF THE THINGS I DID PUSH THE FINANCE MINISTER ON WHEN I MET WITH HIM A FEW WEEKS AGO WAS EXTENDING THE ONTARIO SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT GRANT. I WAS HAPPY TO SEE A SECOND ROUND OF THAT. THERE ARE STILL A NUMBER OF SMALL BUSINESSES, DRY CLEANERS, CATERERS, HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS, A NUMBER OF SMALL BUSINESSES THAT ARE STILL EXCLUDED FROM THAT PROGRAM AND DESPERATELY NEEDING HELP. AND THE BOTTOM LINE, STEVE, IS, IF WE'RE GOING TO GET ONTARIO OUT OF THIS FISCAL HOLE, WE HAVE TO BUILD BACK IN A SMART WAY. AND THE PREMIER'S APPROACH SO FAR HAS BEEN ENVIRONMENTALLY DESTRUCTIVE PROPOSALS THAT ARE BLOWING UP IN HIS FACE, WHETHER IT'S BUILDING AN AMAZON WAREHOUSE ON WETLANDS THAT PEOPLE HAVE SAID NO TO, WHETHER IT'S HIGHWAY 413 WHICH PEOPLE ARE SAYING NO TO. THE BOTTOM LINE IS, WE NEED ECONOMIC GROWTH. WE NEED ECONOMIC RECOVERY. WE NEED TO MAKE THOSE INVESTMENTS, BUT WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE WE MAKE THOSE INVESTMENTS IN A WAY THAT STRENGTHEN OUR COMMUNITIES, CONNECT OUR COMMUNITIES, ADDRESS THE CLIMATE CRISIS, ENSURE THAT YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE A LIVABLE FUTURE, PROTECT US FROM OTHER THREATS THAT ARE COMING, SUCH AS INCREASE IN FLOODING CAUSED BY THE CLIMATE CRISIS. THOSE SMART INVESTMENTS WILL SET US UP AND NOW'S THE TIME TO MAKE THEM WHEN INTEREST RATES ARE AT HISTORIC LOWS AND WE NEED TO GET PEOPLE BACK TO WORK.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman; Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin."

Steve says WE'VE GOT THREE SMALL BUSINESS PEOPLE ON DECK RIGHT NOW WHO WILL CERTAINLY WEIGH IN. I THINK SOMEWHAT CRITICALLY ON THIS BUDGET. WE'RE GOING TO HEAR FROM THEM NOW. I DO WANT TO THANK THE THREE OPPOSITION CRITICS FOR COMING IN TONIGHT AND SHARING THEIR VIEWS ON THIS, CATHERINE FIFE FROM THE NDP, MITZIE HUNTER FROM THE LIBERALS, MIKE SCHREINER FROM THE GREENS. HOPE YOU THREE STAY SAFE AND, AGAIN, THANKS FOR CONTINUING THE BUDGET NIGHT TRADITION HERE ON TVO.

The caption changes to "For more Ontario Budget 2021 coverage go to TVO.org."

Fife and Hunter say Thank you.

Schreiner says THANKS, STEVE. HAVE A GOOD NIGHT.

Watch: Ontario Budget 2021: Opposition Parties React