So much for ‘austerity-light’ in Ontario - The Ford government’s punishing first budget aligns with the global trend of authoritarian right-wing populism. It’s more like ‘permanent austerity.’
One eminent conservative scholar of public budgeting characterized annual budgets as a record of “victories, defeats, bargains and compromises.” Ontario’s 2019 Budget, the first of the new Conservative government of Doug Ford, does indeed tell us something of winners and losers with its additional fiscal supports for business and erosion of social expenditures for everyone else.
There is a line of continuity extending back from the Ford government to the Common Sense Revolution of the Harris and Eves governments of 1995-2003. Their market-expanding and labour-disciplining agenda established Ontario as a low-tax, low-cost regional production zone. Despite the shift to a more “inclusionary” political discourse, the Liberal governments of McGuinty and Wynne from 2003-18 never departed from this fiscal legacy and, for the most part, consolidated a variation of the same strategy.