Former Toronto Dominion Bank economist, Don Drummond, has now handed over his report to the McGuinty government. As we might have expected it is a call to arms for the advocates of austerity. It suggests cuts to social services that would make Harris’s Tory government look like social reformers. Harris cut the Provincial Budget by less than 4% during one term of office while Drummond wants a 17% reduction kept up for a decade and a half. Among other drastic recommendations it calls for limiting annual spending growth for social assistance to 0.5% until 2018, despite the fact that those living on social assistance are still suffering from the 21.6% cuts to assistance from the Harris years, which the Liberals have only made worse. Nowadays a person living on welfare in Ontario is making 55% less than they did in the early 90s, when the rates were already far below the poverty line. Also in Drummond’s cross-hairs are ODSP and the Child Tax Benefit.
Through all the rhetoric of "overspending" it is important to remember that this economic crisis was not caused by us. After all, it is noteworthy that the budget was balanced before the crisis of 2008-09. It was not caused by welfare recipients, it was not caused by organized labour and it was not caused by public services. We are living through a financial crisis that was caused by the rich, and while the banks are getting bailed out we are being bled dry to pay for their greed.
The Drummond report is a roadmap to austerity and if it is not swiftly defeated its legacy will haunt us for decades to come. At the same time it is important not to stay fixated on the Drummond report. We know that the Liberals have been planning to implement cut-back measures long before this report came out. It is imperative that we keep a close eye on the upcoming budget and root out every attack directed against us in the name of austerity.
The time is crucial for us to coordinate our efforts and organize ourselves as effectively as possible to mount a serious fightback.