We’re 37 days away from the Provincial Election that’s not yet been officially called, but there doesn’t mean that campaigning is not hitting a fevered pitch. All the main opposition parties had major announcements on Monday morning, but only the Ontario New Democrats released a whole platform, and the focus was on two planks: expanding healthcare and increasing affordability.
“This is a platform that works for people. We’re not promising the moon and the stars. We’re promising that we’re going to work for you — and if we come together, we can defeat Doug Ford and get everyday families back on solid ground. It’s a practical, doable plan that means hope is on the way,” said NDP leader Andrea Horwath in a statement.
The NDP’s “doable” and “practical” plan features a couple of big goals: The incorporation of mental health coverage into OHIP and the initiation of a provincial pharmacare plan. There’s also a promise to hire 30,000 new nurses, 10,000 new personal support workers, and 300 doctors plus 100 specialists for northern Ontario specifically. The NDP plan for healthcare will also create new positions to retain retired nurses in mentorship roles and will accelerate the accreditation of 15,000 nurses who were trained in other countries.
On affordability, the NDP promise to freeze income tax for low and middle class households for four years, to reinstate rental control by insuring people pay the same rent as the previous tenant, and will introduce a speculation and vacancy tax with the intention of cooling off the real estate market. The NDP platform also promises to work towards the reduction or hydro fees by increasing access to renewable energy, improving grid connections to Quebec and Manitoba, and looking for ways to restore public ownership.
You can see the full platform document here.
“Doug Ford’s cuts won’t fix things. He’ll keep giving his buddies anything they want, no matter what it costs the rest of us. And people can’t trust Steven Del Duca’s Liberals to fix what they helped break,” Horwath said. “But it really doesn’t have to be this way. Ontario is the greatest place in the world to live, and together we can start to fix the things that have been broken — the things that matter most to everyday people.”
Affordability was also an issue discussed at a campaign-style event in Ottawa this morning. Guelph MPP and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner was joined by several local candidates to announce a plan that will make living in Ontario more affordable while ending Premier Doug Ford’s “sprawl agenda.”
“Doug Ford’s sprawl agenda is making life more expensive,” Schreiner said in a media release. “He’s forcing people into long, expensive, soul-crushing commutes, which increases climate pollution, harms our health, paves over farmland and makes the climate emergency even worse.”
Schreiner and the other candidates affirmed previously announced policies like cutting transit fares in half, and restoring the 50 per cent cost-share for the operation of municipal transit services. Schreiner also said that a Green government would implement time-of-day pricing to make off-peak transit use cheaper, and also cancel the planned widening of Highway 417.
“Ontario Greens will stop the sprawl and build affordable and livable communities connected by affordable, accessible, and reliable transit,” Schreiner said. ““We’re in a cost of living crisis and a climate crisis. And we can address both at the same time by making transit more affordable, accessible, frequent and reliable.”
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca spent his Monday announcing a $1,000 per year top up for those receiving Old Age Security while increasing the eligibility threshold to $25,000 for single seniors and $50,000 for couples.
“Helping seniors stay safe in their homes will be a top priority of a Liberal government,” Del Duca said. “Like a lot of Ontarians, higher living costs are making it harder for seniors on a fixed income to make ends meet. We will help seniors by doubling the maximum monthly payment through the Guaranteed Annual Income System and ensuring more seniors qualify for this help.”
The current Provincial government announced $1 billion in funding over the next three years for home care on Monday in order to expand home care services, and to recruit and train more home care workers. “This significant investment will ensure Ontarians can receive the care they need in the comfort of their own homes and alleviate unnecessary pressure on our hospitals helping to keep our province open,” said Minister of Health Christine Elliott.
All eyes are on this coming Thursday at 4 pm and the presentation of the provincial budget. The election is expected to be called next week for Thursday June 2.