After an emotional rollercoaster of an election, Ontario voters sent a clear message for change, electing the Progressive Conservative’s populist leader Doug Ford and sending his team to the legislature with a big majority.
Ontarians not only voted for change but for the PC pledge of affordability through lower energy rates and taxes.
Mr. Ford promised during the campaign to open Ontario for business, creating more good-paying jobs and finding “efficiencies” to reduce taxpayers’ financial burden.
Additionally, he promised to reduce hospital wait times, invest in transit, improve the economy and reduce the record-high $350 billion provincial debt.
For Ontario businesses and organizations, a PC majority could signify new opportunities to engage government on key policy areas that are bound to see significant change.
Although the PCs hold 76 of the 124 seats and warrant the most attention given their legislative authority, it is also important to engage key critics from opposition parties, especially the official opposition NDP, which won 40 seats.
As part of this outreach, effective communications will be important for companies and associations as they look to build relationships with new MPPs in government and opposition parties.
The following is a high-level overview of certain key policy promises from Mr. Ford’s platform.
- Balance the budget in two years and maintain it to reduce provincial debt
- Cut government spending by $6 billion without laying off public sector employees
- Bring quality jobs back to Ontario by lowering taxes, stabilizing hydro bills and reducing red tape
- Exempt workers earning minimum wage (less than $28,000) from paying taxes
- Cut middle-class income taxes by 20 per cent
- Cut small business tax rate from 3.5 to 3.2 per cent
- Cut corporate tax rates from 11.5 to 10.5 per cent
- Cut gasoline taxes by 10 cents a litre
- Review Hydro One’s executive compensation, and make structural changes to the executive management structure
- Drive more customer savings by allocating Hydro One dividends back to ratepayers
- Maintain the Fair Hydro Plan rate relief and provide an additional 12 per cent reduction
- Place a moratorium on all new electricity generation contracts and review existing contracts for more savings
- Remove the Smart Metering Charge on customer bills
- Repeal Ontario’s existing cap-and-trade system and oppose the federally-mandated minimum price on carbon emissions, which will roughly offset $1.9 billion a year and save an average family $285
- Cut hospital wait times and end “hallway medicine” (when hospital overcrowding leads to patients being treated outside of private rooms)
- Add 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years and 30,000 new beds over the next 10 year
- Invest $3.8 billion in mental health, addictions and housing supports over 10 years
- Increase autism funding by an additional $38 million to a total of $100 million over five years
- Spend $98 million a year to provide free dental care to low-income seniors
- Deliver two-way, all-day GO service, including expansions to Bowmanville, Kitchener and completing the Niagara GO Expansion
- Support regional transit projects in places such as Ottawa, Hamilton, Mississauga/Brampton, Kitchener-Waterloo and London. This includes current transit projects, such as the Ottawa LRT – Phase 2 ($3.6 billion);Hamilton transit ($1 billion), Hurontario LRT ($1.4 billion), Kitchener-Waterloo LRT ($325 million), and London transit ($170 million)
- Commit $5 billion in new subway funding, adding to the roughly $9 billion already available to build new transit projects in Toronto
- Commit $20 million for studies/401 improvements, $5 million per year for Highways 3 and 17 amortized over 50 years once completed
- Granted priority consideration for future construction to several transit projects, including: the Sheppard subway to close the loop with the Scarborough Subway Extension, the Relief Line and the Yonge Extension
- Build the Eglinton West and Eglinton East expansions underground, where feasible
Written by Jake Sikora
Former Consultant, NATIONAL Public Relations