Lauren Bech Hansen
On June 2, millions of Ontarians will be heading to the polls, closing out an election cycle rife with heated political debate, lofty promises and an overload of information.
Now that advanced voting is coming to a close, we’ve prepared a breakdown of the four major party commitments on key issues like affordability, the economy, healthcare and housing to arm those who have yet to make their decision with the information needed to meaningfully exercise their right to vote.
INCUMBENT: THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF ONTARIO (PC)
Tagline: Get It Done.
Led by Premier Doug Ford, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (PC) is hoping to clinch another majority government in 2022. While the PCs did not release a formal platform, the vision and commitments of the incumbents were outlined in the April 2022 budget and through announcements at the outset of the election cycle. Forging ahead from the pandemic, which marked more than half of their time in power, the PCs are focused on the nuts and bolts of economic recovery, relief for rising costs of living, modernizing critical infrastructure, all under the promise to “Get It Done .”
Aptly named “Ontario’s Plan to Build,” the PC’s platform is comprised of 5 key pillars:
1. Rebuild Ontario’s economy: The PCs pledge to create new jobs with bigger pay cheques. The incumbents also expressed a commitment to jump-starting the green auto-sector, ramping up manufacturing of hybrids, electrical vehicles, electric batteries and clean steel production, designating nearly $1B for critical mineral infrastructure and developing the Ontario’s Ring of Fire.
2. Working for workers: The PCs will raise the minimum wage to $15.50, invest $1B in employment/skills training and introduce the first protections in Canada for digital platform workers. The PCs have further promised an additional $114M to skilled trades education and careers.
3. Building highways and key infrastructure: The PCs promise to “get shovels in the ground”, allocating $158B in spending over the next decade for core infrastructure projects including highways, public transit, healthcare facilities and schools and $4B to support high- speed internet access across Ontario by the end of 2025.
4. Keeping costs down: The PCs pledge to address Ontario’s housing crisis by building 1.5M new homes in the next decade, including a $27M investment in supportive housing. The PCs will reduce costs for drivers and public transit users through a temporary cut to the gas tax starting July 1, lower public transit fees, and provide plenty of new sources of urgent tax relief for childcare, senior citizens and low-income earners.
5. A plan to stay open: The incumbents have promised $40B over the next decade to building hospitals, improving necessary healthcare infrastructure, supporting healthcare workers, long-term care and home care, with $764M budgeted to provide nurses with a $5,000 retention bonus and $42.5M earmarked for improved medical education and training.
The PCs plan to build provides $198.6B in spending, with an enthusiastic focus on job creation and infrastructure, introducing affordability measures and creating new employment opportunities in the green economy, small business and trade sectors.
Who country? The PC’s have raised non-resident housing speculation tax to 20% and extended it across the province of Ontario.
The PCs plan would see an estimated $19.9B deficit in the first year, and pledge to balance the budget by 2027/2028.
OFFICIAL OPPOSITION: ONTARIO NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY (NDP)
Tagline: They broke it, we’ll fix it.
Led by MP and Leader of the Opposition Andrea Horwath, the NDP have served as the official opposition for the past four years. In 2022, the NDP is vying for a win against the PCs, positioning their platform in the upcoming election as a referendum on the incumbents’ response to the COVID-19 crisis.
At the heart of the NDP platform, entitled Strong. Ready. Working for you. lies a commitment to addressing affordability issues, education, and improving healthcare through large-scale reforms and fast-tracking a proposed universal pharmacare system. Let’s dive into some of the NDPs promises:
1. Affordability: The NDP pledge to build 250,000 affordable homes, lower auto-insurance rates by 40% and introduce a four-year income tax freeze for low- and middle-income households and for individuals who earn less than $200K per year. The NDP have further promised to double welfare and disability support payments, the largest expenditure in their plan at a cost of $8.6B.
2. Healthcare: The NDP pledge to immediately begin working on universal pharmacare and establish a universal, publicly funded mental healthcare at a cost of $940M. An NDP government further pledges to hire 10,000 personal support workers with raised wages, hire 30,000 nurses, expedite credential recognition of 15,000 internationally trained nurses and hire 3,000 doctors in Northern Ontario.
3. Education: With a goal to improve education, the NDP pledge to hire 20,000 teachers and educational workers, reduce class sizes for grades four through eight, cancel EQAO standardized testing, and restore the previous government’s free tuition program, convert post-secondary student loans to grans and retroactively expunge student loan interest.
4. Labour: The NDP pledges to increase the minimum wage to $16.00 in October 2022 with intent to rise to $20.00 in 2026, legislate 10 permanent personal emergency leave days, remove barriers to joining a union, and implement a four-day work week pilot project in the province of Ontario.
5. Equity: A large number of commitments in the NDP’s platform focus on equity initiatives and funding including exploring a 2SLGBTQIA+ Inclusion Action Plan, funding for religious centres and places of worship security costs and mandatory anti-oppression and anti-bias training for all public employees and legislators.
Costing for the NDP platform does not go beyond its third year, however the party has admitted they expect to run higher and longer deficits than the PCs and Liberals.
Who pays? The NDP have announced they would repeal a PC/Liberal promise to temporarily cut the gas tax (providing the province with an estimated revenue of $600M). An NDP government would also raise taxes on individuals earning over $220K by 1%, 2% on earners over $300K, and will raise the corporate income tax rate to 13% in the second year. The small business tax rate would be maintained.
The NDP plan would see a deficit of $21.5B in the first year, with plans balance the budget towards 2029.
ONTARIO LIBERAL PARTY (LIBERAL)
Slogan: A place to grow, if we make the right choices.
Having lost out to both the PCs and NDPs in 2018, the Ontario Liberal Party is looking to regain footing in 2022 and are eager to form the Official Opposition. Under Steven Del Duca, the Ontario Liberal Party have put housing, education and healthcare at the centre of their platform, promising a range of solutions to address Ontario’s affordability crisis.
1. A place to grow your family: The Liberals promise to eliminate provincial HST on prepared food under $20.00 – like meals at restaurants or to-go counters, increase the minimum wage to $16.00 per hour and introduce regionally-adjusted living wages by 2025, raise ODSP rates by 10%, build 1.5 million new homes in the next decade and deliver province-wide rent control.
2. A place to grow healthy: To clear the surgical backlog that has mounted during the pandemic, the Liberals will invest $1B to expand healthcare capacity with the goal of returning to pre-pandemic wait times by the end of 2022.
3. A place to grow economic dignity: A Liberal government will give every worker access to benefits and 10 paid sick days (including gig-workers), give businesses up to $200 a day to compensate for the costs of workers taking more sick days, and support small businesses hit hard by the pandemic by eliminating their corporate taxes for two years
4. A place to grow up: Ontario Liberal’s promise to build and repair schools at a cost of $10B, hire 10,000 teachers for smaller class sizes, offer an optional grade 13, reinvest in OSAP and halt rising tuition costs while eliminating interest on student loans.
5. A place to grow sustainably: The Liberals pledge to cut public transit fares to $1.00 per ride for one year and cap monthly passes for all public transit at $40.00. The Liberals further promise to expand the Greenbelt and designate 30% of land as protected areas by 2030.
The Liberals’ plan sees $16.4B in new spending over four years and will run largely the same deficits as the PCs in 2022-23 ($19.1B). However, despite their projections running on higher estimates of revenue, the party says it will run larger deficits in 2023 through 2025 than their PC counterparts.
Who pays? The Liberals are proposing a 15.16% income tax on individuals whose taxable incomes amount to more than $500K and propose a 1% surtax on companies whose profits exceed $1B per year. The Liberals would also introduce a 5% tax on non-Canadian homeowners.
The Liberals plan to balance the budget in 2026-27, though this projection relies on the realization of additional federal dollars. Without this federal funding, the deficit will increase under a Liberal government.
ONTARIO GREEN PARTY (GREEN)
Slogan: New solutions to old problems.
While the Ontario Green Party (Green) may not have an easy road to a majority, the Greens, led by Mike Schreiner, are hoping to build on existing momentum and pick up more seats in 2022 by appealing to Ontarians’ concerns over climate.
The Greens’ platform is rooted in the party’s vision for a province that is “caring, connected, and ready for the new climate economy,” and introduces a number of pledges surrounding healthcare, affordable housing and boosting jobs in green manufacturing. The Green Plan includes six key priorities:
1. Homes Not Highways: The Greens pledge to cancel the PC’s proposed Highway 413 and prevent the widening of Highway 417 and are instead promising to freeze urban boundaries, build 1.5 million homes, 182,000 of which will be affordable and 60,000 permanent supportive homes, at a cost of $3.6B in four years. All new housing projects of a “certain” size will need to include 20% affordable units.
2. Mental Health is Health: Like the NDP, the Greens have pledged to include mental healthcare under OHIP and have pledged to increase mental health spending to 10% and increase funding for children’s mental health to reduce wait times.
3. New Climate Economy: The Greens’ budget includes $65B in funding to transition the province to a “new climate economy”, retrofit 40% of existing Ontario homes and workplaces by 2030, and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. The Greens pledge to double Ontario’s electricity supply by 2040 and stop new gas hookups and new fossil fuel infrastructure by 2025.
4. Respect for People and Workers: A Green government would repeal Bill 124 (a law which generally limits annual salary increases to 1% for many parts of the public sector in Ontario), boost wages for PSWs, nurses and ECEs, and hire 33,000 nurses across the province. The Greens further pledge to double the ODSP rates and boost minimum wage to $16.00.
5. Reinvest in Health and Education: The Ontario Greens plan to invest $1.6B in homecare to allow seniors to “age in place”. The Greens also promise to oppose moves toward mandatory e-learning or hybrid learning and would convert loans to grants for low and middle income post-secondary students.
6. Protect Nature: The Greens pledge to permanently protect farmland, wetlands and conserve 30% of Ontario’s nature by 2030. $1B would be provided in funding for Indigenous climate leadership, and $2B would be set aside for municipal infrastructure improvements.
Who pays? Homeowners and corporations with more than 2 properties will see a 20% tax on their third property, with an increase per each additional home. The Greens would also implement a vacant homes tax and anti-flipping tax, though the amounts were not specified. Other revenue streams include congestion charges, a proposed carbon tax and cancelling the PC/Liberal proposed temporary gas-tax reduction.
The party’s four-year financial outlook doesn’t balance the books, with a projected 2025-26 deficit $1.2-billion higher than that projected in the PC budget.
Voting is an extremely personal decision, and there are likely innumerable other key issues that may be more important to you than those detailed here. We urge you to explore the positions of each party platform in detail before casting your vote.
See you at the polls!
For more on each of the main party positions:
The Progressive Conservatives of Ontario: Ontario’s Plan to Build
Ontario New Democratic Party: Strong. Ready. Working for you.
Ontario Liberal Party: A Place to Grow
Green Party of Ontario: New Solutions to Old Problems
For more information on how and where to vote:
Elections Ontario: https://www.elections.on.ca/en.html