A look at the top five promises made by each of the three major Ontario political parties heading into Thursday’s election.
Raise taxes on the wealthiest citizens and companies
Party leader Andrea Horwath has pledged to raise income tax by one percentage point for people earning over $220,000 and two percentage points for those earning over $300,000, while increasing tax on corporate profits from 11.5 per cent to 13 per cent.
Provide drug and dental coverage for all Ontarians
Horwath has pledged to invest at least $475 million per year to create a universal pharmacare plan covering prescription medication for all Ontarians. Horwath would also require every employer to provide workers and their families with a “minimum standard” of dental coverage, funded through a combination of employer and worker contributions.
Provide relief for student loans
The NDP will forgive all interest on student loans for current and former post-secondary students who have yet to pay off their Ontario Student Assistance Program debts. Students with outstanding loans who have already paid some of their interest will be reimbursed retroactively. In the future, all provincial student assistance would be in the form of non-repayable grants, instead of loans, ensuring post-secondary students will not owe money to the government.
Increase capacity of hospitals and long-term care
Horwath says she will add 2,000 hospital beds across Ontario, at a cost of over 1.3 billion over four years. An NDP government would increase overall hospital funding by over $1 billion in each of the next four years, and create 15,000 new long-term care beds within five years, at a total cost of over $2 billion, with Ontario on track to have 40,000 new beds by 2028.
Make Hydro One public again
Horwath’s government would buy back shares of Hydro One, which was partially privatized in 2015, and overhaul the system to lower household electricity costs by 30 per cent. The NDP have also pledged to scrap “time of use” hydro charges, ensure that Ontarians pay the same hydro delivery costs regardless of where they live, and double the Ontario Electricity Support Program benefit for low-income families who heat with electricity, at a cost of $50 million in the first fiscal year of an NDP government
Doug Ford pledges to scrap Ontario’s cap-and-trade system, reduce gas prices by 10 cents per litre, eliminate provincial income tax for people earning minimum wage, and lower provincial income tax by 20 per cent for people who earn between $42,960 and $85,923. Ford’s middle class tax cut would cost the government nearly $2.3 billion per year in lost revenue, while reduced gas prices would cost another $1.19 billion per year. Ford has not specified how he would make up for the lost revenue, but has said he will find “efficiencies” in the provincial budget.
Reduce hydro costs
Ford says he’ll lower hydro bills by 12 per cent and fire Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt, who earned $6.2 million in 2017. Firing Schmidt wouldn’t come cheap, as the CEO would be owed a severance payout of at least $10.7 million, according to the company’s annual shareholders report.
Ford says he’ll invest $5 billion to build and maintain subways in Toronto. He has also said he would expand Go Transit to Bowmanville and Kitchener, complete the expansion of GO into Niagara and support regional transit in Ottawa, Hamilton, Kitchener Waterloo, London and Mississauga and Brampton.
Ford pledges to lower business taxes from 11.5 per cent to 10.5 per cent “so that more employers can invest, grow and create jobs in Ontario.” The move would cost the government $1.3 billion per year starting in the second year of his term.
Expand long-term care and mental health care capacity
Ford says he would create 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years and 30,000 over 10 years. The Tories say this will cost the government $62,000 per bed, per year, once each bed is in use.
Cover prescription drugs for children, youth and seniors
The Liberals have promised to make essential prescription drugs free for people 65 and over, starting in 2019, and remove deductibles and co-payment for seniors’ medications, estimated to save people 65 and over an average of $240 per year. The additions to OHIP+ will cost the government $575 million annually by the fiscal year 2020-21. The Liberals also say they will introduce a drug and dental program to reimburse up to 80 per cent of prescription drug and dental care costs for Ontarians who are not covered by an extended health plan.
Make post-secondary education more affordable
The Liberals would also continue their overhaul of the Ontario Student Assistance Program — which awards loans to students based on several factors including their family’s income — by reducing the amount that parents are expected to contribute towards their child’s post-secondary education. Increases to OSAP funding would cost the government a projected $1.2 billion over three years. They would also continue the $1-million Open Textbooks Initiative, which makes learning materials available for free online.
Invest in mental health and addictions care
The Liberals have pledged to invest $1.2 billion over three years in mental health and addictions care, reducing wait times for children and youth, creating a 24-hour crisis helpline, hiring 400 more mental health workers in high schools and adding 100 new hospital beds across the province for people in need of acute mental health or addictions care.
Lower transit costs
The party has promised to discount fares for commuters transferring between the Toronto transit system and transit systems in Mississauga, York Region, Brampton and Durham, saving each person about $720 per year, and create a standard $3 fare for all GO Transit trips under 10 km or within the city of Toronto.
Provide free and expanded child care
The Liberals have promised to invest $2.2 billion over three years to increase access to affordable child care. They would offer free child care starting when kids are two-and-a-half and ending when they reach kindergarten age, saving families an average of $17,000 per child per year. A Liberal government would create 100,000 new spaces in licensed day cares over five years, and open up 4,500 new spaces for “culturally relevant” child care in First Nations communities.
The Canadian Press