Things are heating up in Ontario as we get closer to the provincial election. Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford and Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne have exchanged heated words as they address the province with campaign promises, while criticizing opposing tactics.
“Doug Ford sounds like Donald Trump and that’s because he is like Donald Trump,” Wynne said at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto on Wednesday. “He’ll say anything about anyone at anytime because just like Trump, it is all about him. It’s not about our people, it’s not about their families, it’s not about Ontario’s success, it is about him.”
Her statements came after reporters asked Wynne to respond to Ford’s comments that suggest she would be in jail if she wasn’t the premier of Ontario.
“If Kathleen Wynne tried to pull these kinds of shady tricks in private life, then there would be a few more Liberals joining David Livingston in jail,” Ford said in a news release, referencing the former Liberal aide who was sentenced to four months in jail for wiping government computer data related to the 2011 gas plant scandal.
Ford responded to Wynne’s “Trump” comments during a rally in Ajax, saying the premier is “nervous” and “getting personal.
“I’m going to hold Kathleen Wynne accountable based on her record,” Ford said.
As tensions between the Liberal and PC parties continued to rise this week, Ontario’s NDP leader Andrea Horwath released her party’s platform on Monday, with heavy investments in child care, health care, education and public transit.
The “Change for the Better” platform promises free child care for families that earn $40,000 or less. If elected, hospital funding would increase by 5.3 per cent. The provincial NDPs would also increase taxes by one per cent for individuals earning more than $220,000, with a two per cent increase for people earning $300,000 or more.
Horwath is anticipating five consecutive deficits to fund the party’s promises, with a $3.3 billion deficit in the first year.
“For too long, the people of Ontario have been forced to settle for less than what we know is possible,” Horwath said in her speech on Monday. “We’ve been told to switch back and forth, from the Liberals to the Conservatives and back again. As though the only choice is between bad and worse. And look where it’s gotten us.”
The financial outlook for the province still involves a deficit if the Liberals stay in power. In the budget released last month, the party outlined a projected $6.7 billion deficit that won’t be rectified until 2024-2025. This goes against last year’s promise to maintain a balanced budget for 2019-2020.
Highlighting health care, child care, and support for seniors, the Liberals also promise free child care for preschool children beginning in 2020 (once they turn two-and-a-half). Wynne’s Liberal government also announced the Ontario Drug and Dental Program will reimburse up to 80 per cent of eligible expenses for those without other coverage, covering up to $400 per person, $600 per couple or $700 for a family of four.
“It’s a plan of care but it’s also a plan to grow the economy and create more jobs,” Finance Minister Charles Sousa said to reporters when the budget was released. “It focuses on making life more affordable and provides greater financial security.”
Ford’s tax cuts
On Wednesday, the Ontario PC party promised that if elected, the provincial income tax rate would be cut from 11.5 per cent to 10.5 per cent.
“We’re going to create the environment to make sure this province is the most prosperous province anywhere in Canada,” Ford said, according to The Canadian Press. “We’ll make sure we have the most competitive region in North America to do business.”
Ford has also made a campaign promise of “zero per cent tax” for individuals making minimum wage, while also vowing to scrap the Liberal government’s minimum wage hike to $15 per hour.
Tory’s leading in the polls
According to a survey by Innovative Research Group, conducted between April 2nd and April 9th, 37 per cent of respondents, would vote of the provincial PC party if an elected was held at the time of the poll, while 26 per cent would vote Liberal and 18 per cent would vote NDP. The results were consistent with their finding from two previous polls in March
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Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath will be speaking to Yahoo Canada News next week – what would you like to know? Leave your questions in the comments!