Ontario Liberal leader candidate Steven Del Duca says Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli is wrong to blame the former Liberal government for a $15 billion deficit.

“It’s not just me saying that it’s wrong it’s also the Auditor General who says Vic is wrong,” Del Duca said.

“I would have thought that as the Finance Minister at the time Vic would have known better than to spread misinformation about the size of the deficit.”

Del Duca says Fedeli and Premier Doug Ford inflated the size of the deficit in order to use the large dollar amount as an excuse to cut core public services like health and education.

He says as a result institutions like the North Bay Regional Health Centre and the Au Chateau Home for the Aged in Sturgeon Falls face funding shortages.

Del Duca says Premier Ford has an “intrinsic desire” to move toward privatization.

“And they do it through stealth and making things up like the size of the deficit,” he said.

Del Duca says “it’s never the wrong time to do the right thing” and says Ford and Fedeli should just admit they made a mistake about inflating the deficit.

“They could realize we need strong public health and education particularly in places like Northern Ontario where there are unique challenges,” he said.

“If they did that, I’d be the first to applaud.”

But Del Duca doubts this will happen and believes the Ford government will continue to “slash and burn” public services.

Del Duca also points out that the current Progressive Conservative government is actually spending more than the past Liberal government.

However, he adds that spending is not taking place in the right areas.

“They have the wrong priorities,” he said.

“Those priorities are not the ones we cherish.”

Del Duca says he believes in fiscal responsibility and that governments have to invest taxpayers’ money in careful and responsible ways.

“But when someone is sick people want to see that healthcare is there,” he said.

“I don’t think at that moment they’re thinking about the size of the deficit down to a decimal point.”

Del Duca says the same thinking applies to education where people want to make sure students are getting a proper education in a safe environment.

Del Duca also says while most Ontarians would prefer to see a balanced budget every year, not delivering a balanced budget is alright when the government is investing in critical things like long-term care or it has to fund hospitals in a certain way.

“People can accept that,” he said.

“What they don’t accept is a Premier who inflates the deficit.”

Del Duca says people don’t have an expectation that governments will solve every problem.

He says what people want is a government that is ambitious and produces results in a competent and responsible way.

“And I believe there’s a way to do that if you set the right priorities, he said.

“But I don’t believe that Doug Ford and Vic Fedeli have the right priorities.”