With only eight sitting days left before Ontario legislators break for the summer, there is a fear that the budget bill might not pass.
Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan accused the NDP and the Progressive Conservatives of stalling the bill by using procedural tactics such as ringing division bells as often as possible to delay the debate. Ringing of the bells is a protest by the Progressive Conservatives against the government’s refusal to create a select committee to investigate Ontario’s air service Ornge.
The NDP denied any attempts to block the bill intentionally and argued that certain aspects of the budget require detailed public scrutiny. See the latest debates here.
The NDP helped the budget pass first reading in April by abstaining from the vote. As a major compromise, Ontario minority Liberals agreed to a 2 % surtax on high income earners making $500,000 or more annually. Other amendments included a 1% hike in welfare and disability benefits, a one-time $20 million payment for northern hospitals and increased day care funding.
Next week, the government is planning to introduce a time-allocation motion that if passed would speed up the debate. The Legislature rises Thursday, June 7.