How much will Wynne's next budget cost Ontarians?

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You have to wonder how much of our money Premier Kathleen Wynne is willing to spend to win re-election next year.

By my calculations, the cost of Wynne’s Thursday budget speech to Ontario taxpayers was $9.3 billion, or $422.7 million per page of Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s 22-page effort.

Given that, who knows how much it will cost taxpayers next April, considering that will be Wynne’s “pre-election” budget, shortly before the June, 2018 vote?

Here are my cost calculations and the reasoning behind them, based on announcements in Wynne’s 2017-2018 budget speech:

* $190 million over three years “to help create 40,000 new work-related learning opportunities.”

* $1.8 billion, the estimated annual government revenue, paid for by Ontarians in the form of higher retail prices on most goods and services, from Wynne’s cap and trade carbon pricing scheme.

* $80 million “to create the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network.”

* $19 million “to help our greenhouse farming sector invest in innovative technologies.”

* $2.5 billion over three years for Wynne’s “Fair Hydro Plan”, in which she’s using taxpayers’ money to subsidize the electricity bills of hydro ratepayers, despite the fact taxpayers and ratepayers are the same people.

* $20 million for “respite care to people who volunteer to care for a loved one.”

* $200 million for more daycare.

* $1.6 billion this year (based on $16 billion over 10 years) for new schools.

* $200 million over three years for “First Nation, Metis and Inuit … post secondary education and training.”

* $465 million annually for a pharmacare program to provide free prescription drugs to all Ontario children from birth to 24 years of age.

* $150 million over three years for a minimum income pilot project for 4,000 low-income households in Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay.

* $1.3 billion over three years “to reduce (medical) wait times.”

* $518 million “booster shot” for hospitals.

* $85 million over three years for home care.

* $200 million “to improve the energy efficiency of our schools.”

No doubt some of this spending is worthwhile and, to be fair, some of it overlaps.

For example, the $1.8 billion in annual revenue from cap and trade will presumably help pay for the $200 million spent to improve energy efficiency in schools.

Taxpayers will also receive partial returns from some programs, such as Wynne’s “Fair Hydro Plan”, which lowers electricity rates.

That said, all this assumes all the money to be spent on these programs will go where the Wynne government says it will go, in the amounts and during the time frames specified.

On that score, remember it was the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty, in which Wynne was a senior cabinet minister, that told us the cost of cancelling two controversial gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga prior to the 2011 election, which the opposition parties dubbed “the Liberal seat saver program”, would be $230 million over 20 years.

That turned out to be up to $1.1 billion, according to the auditor general.

That’s not to mention all the other Liberal spending scandals — eHealth, Ornge, green energy, smart meters — where costs soared beyond estimates.

So hold on to your wallets.