Pharmacare, tax freeze and health-care spending feature in Ontario NDP platform

·2 min read

TORONTO — The Ontario New Democrats' election platform includes promises of accelerated universal pharmacare and dental care, a freeze on income tax for some residents and hiring tens of thousands of health-care and education workers.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released the platform today, saying it is taking practical steps to make life more affordable.

Party officials say full platform costing details will come later, after the Progressive Conservative government introduces its provincial budget that's due this week ahead of an expected election call.

If elected in June, the New Democrats say they will move ahead with providing drug coverage for Ontarians before the federal Liberal government moves on its plan, starting by covering a baseline of 125 medications.

The pharmacare plan, which the NDP also promised in the 2018 election, includes pledges to cover birth control and HIV treatment and prevention medication..

The party says it will also work to "accelerate" the proposed federal dental coverage plan and expand it to cover more people.

Another health-care promise is a commitment to raise funding for hospitals, including increasing base operating funding by 3.5 per cent, something the Ontario Hospital Association has asked for and costed at $735 million.

The NDP also promises to hire 10,000 personal support workers and give them a raise, as well as hire 30,000 nurses, 400 doctors and specialists for northern Ontario and expedite credential recognition for 15,000 internationally trained nurses.

There is also a promise to hire 20,000 teachers and education workers.

Monday’s platform release also updated a previous NDP announcement on housing, and now targets building 100,000 social housing units for $493 million annually, and 60,000 supportive housing units for $100 million annually.

There's also a pledge to freeze income taxes on low-income and middle-income households for four years – though there were few details on that aspect of the platform – and a promise to reintroduce rent control for apartments.

Other aspects of the NDP's platform have been already been detailed in the lead-up to the campaign, including plans to cover mental health care under OHIP and phase out for-profit long-term care ownership.

The party also promised to raise the minimum wage to $16 per hour in 2022, rising to $20 in 2026.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 25, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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