Critics accused the Ontario government of turning its back on health and post-secondary education in the latest provincial budget by devoting another $5.2 billion in tax cuts over the next four years.
Social advocates say the deep cuts in personal and corporate income taxes, combined with reduced capital gains taxes and preferential treatment of income earned from stock options, will come at the expense of health, education, and social services.
"For every new dollar spent on tax giveaways, the budget provides for just one penny in new money for health care," said Wayne Samuelson, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour.
"At its heart, this budget gives the most to those who need it the least."
Despite higher revenues from a booming provincial economy, the budget announced further spending cuts to housing, social services, culture, and the environment.
For the post-secondary education sector, the budget provided an additional $286 million under its SuperBuild Growth Fund for infrastructure renewal and extra money for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program.
"The budget did provide some new money for student financial assistance, but it is a drop in the bucket," said Deborah Flynn, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. "In light of the huge tuition fees since this government was elected, it simply isn't enough."
Universities and colleges were hoping increased funding would be available to begin hiring faculty to meet the needs of rising enrolments predicted over the next decade.
"There was no new money for basic operating grants, no money directed toward faculty renewal," said Flynn. "The new buildings are going to be of absolutely no use if you don't have the faculty to teach those students and do the research."