In Wynne's world Ontario is just fine
Kathleen Wynne. (File photo)
Ontarians can be forgiven if they don't share Premier Kathleen Wynne's enthusiasm for the great job her government is doing managing the economy.
The Liberals are certainly proud. Finance Minister Charles Sousa boasted in his fall economic statement:
"Our plan is working. Over the last two years our economy has grown by 5.3 per cent. Last year our growth was double the national average . . . for the first quarter of this year, Ontario's growth was faster than that of the United States and the G7 . . . The unemployment rate is at an eight-year low."
Sousa noted the Liberals will balance the province's budget as promised in 2017-18.
Now, let's talk about the real world.
It's true that because of a lower Canadian dollar, strengthening U.S. economy and the oil price crash, which help Ontario's manufacturing sector, the provincial economy has been doing better after a decade of underperforming.
But as Ben Eisen of the Fraser Institute's Ontario prosperity initiative wrote this week, dancing in the streets is premature.
Between 2003 and 2014, Ontario's inflation-adjusted, per-person economic growth averaged just 0.3 per cent annually, about a third of the economic growth rate of the rest of Canada.
In 2000, average disposable household income was 10 per cent higher in Ontario than the rest of the country. By 2012 it fell below the national average for the first time.
Combined with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's free-spending federal Liberal government, Ontario's income tax rate now tops out at a job-killing 53.5 per cent.
Since coming to power in 2003, the Liberals have more than doubled Ontario's debt to more than $300 billion, making Ontario the world's most indebted sub-sovereign borrower.
The only reason the Liberals will be able to balance the budget in 2017 -- after delivering nine straight deficits -- is through such measures as their unpopular sale of 60 per cent of Hydro One to the private sector.
Their multi-billion-dollar experiment with green energy has been a disaster, helping to saddle Ontarians with some of the fastest rising electricity rates in North America.
Their experiment is capped off by Wynne's carbon pricing scheme, expected to take another $2 billion out of the pockets of Ontarians this year alone.
Reports of the rebirth of Ontario's economy have been greatly exaggerated.