A Progressive Conservative government would reduce gas prices in Ontario by 10 cents per litre by scrapping the province's cap-and-trade program and reducing the provincial fuel tax, Doug Ford said on Wednesday.
Ford did not say, however, how a Tory government would make up for the billions in lost revenue that would result from those changes.
"Every day, I hear from the people who are fed up. Fed up with being gouged at the gas pump. Fed up with the price of gas keeps going up, and with, the price of goods and services, with no end or relief in sight," the PC leader said at a campaign stop in Oakville.
Ford also reiterated his vow to challenge the imposition of a carbon tax in Ontario.
According to a news release, the provincial fuel tax on gas and diesel — currently at 14.7 cents and 14.3 cents per litre, respectively — would be reduced to nine cents per litre for each.
Ending Ontario's cap-and-trade program would lead to a further 4.3 cents per litre at the pumps, meaning the total savings would be about 10 cents per litre, the PCs said.
Cap-and-trade accounted for some $1.9 billion in revenue last year, while the fuel tax brings in $2.7 billion in revenue.
Ford is promising to scrap both, while also reducing government spending by at least $6 billion, reducing the tax rate in the province's second tax bracket, lowering the corporate tax rate and significantly cutting hydro bills for voters.
When pressed by reporters on how a PC government could afford the changes, Ford said that the money voters save on gas will increase economic activity.
"We can't afford not to do this," Ford said, without providing any further details on how the proposal would work.
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"These are savings that will leave more money in your pocket."
Ford also repeated his claim that a "line-by-line" audit of government ministries would find billions of dollars in "efficienies."
Liberal candidate Kathryn McGarry criticized Ford's plan in a statement, saying it would lead to massive and harmful cuts.
"Even if any room is created, the gas companies will eat it up with higher prices and we'll just be left with $1.2 billion in cuts to transit and vital services," McGarry said.
Currently, municipalities in Ontario receive two cents per litre on all the gas that is taxed under the provincial fuel tax to help fund their public transit networks. That figure is set to increase to four cents per litre by 2021.
A spokesperson for the Ford campaign said that municipalities will see no decrease in that money flow and that a PC government would honour the planned increase put in place by the Liberals.
Price cut needed, gas analyst says
Dan McTeague, a former Liberal MP and current senior analyst with Gasbuddy, said that while there will be "some revenue impacts" from Ford's proposal, it is necessary amid substantial increases in gas prices and a weak Canadian dollar.
"Make no mistake, the dramatic increases that we've seen means we need someone to provide a shock absorber to mitigate these prices," he told CBC Toronto.
McTeague added that he frequently hears from Ontarians who are struggling to cope with gas prices. Ford's plan, if it comes into effect, could help Ontario's economy sustain forecast increases to the price of oil that will ultimately be passed onto consumers.
"I think it would help some people get through some very difficult times."