Ontario Provincial Election – A Quick Summary

Aaron Propp - 2B Computer
Posted on: May 19, 2018

The provincial election is fast approaching. The Progressive Conservatives hold a commanding lead in the polls, being challenged by the NDP in the popular vote if not the seat count and the Liberals trailing behind. But this is politics and things can change on a dime, as evidenced by Patrick Brown’s ouster as leader of the Progressive Conservatives. Let’s take a look at the three main parties, their platforms and their leaders.

First up, the Progressive Conservatives. The party has yet to release a full-fledged platform. This late in the game, in most elections that would appear odd. With the incumbent leader having a 19 per cent approval rating, this is not most elections. Doug Ford, the PC Party leader, is not campaigning on a platform. He’s looking to making this a referendum on the Liberal party’s 15 years in power.

There are a few policies that have been put forward by the PC party. He seeks to eliminate the province’s 6 billion dollar deficit by targeting unspecified inefficiencies. By cutting the corporate tax rate a percentage point down to 10.5%, the PCs hope to attract more businesses to Ontario. In terms of health care, Ford wants to put an end to “hallway medicine”, in other words overcrowding in hospitals but again is light on the details. He also wants to expand the number of hospital beds by 15,000 in the next 5 years and double that amount in the next 10 years.

However, Ford as a leader is very reactionary and tends to make off the cuff remarks. For example, during his leadership campaign he mused the teenage girls under the age of 18 should require parental permission before getting an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy. Doug Ford is also against safe injection sites, being quoted as saying, “I ask anyone out there, if your son, daughter or loved one ever had an addiction, would you want them to go in a little area and do more drugs?” However, these sites help prevent transmission of disease by offering clean needles, in addition to the fact that they help people connect to addiction treatment programs.

The question to ask about the Progressive Conservative party is this: Is it Doug Ford’s party or a party that happens to be led by Doug Ford?

Next, the Liberals. The party has essentially released a platform in the guise of the Ontario 2018 budget. With the Liberals being in power for 15 years, this is a change election. Kathleen Wynne, the leader of the Liberals, wants to portray the change as coming from within.

Kathleen Wynne has put many policies into place with the Ontario 2018 budget and a few will be examined here. For one, she has raised the minimum wage from $11.25 an hour to $15 an hour by New Year’s January 2018. This will help workers at the bottom of the wage ladder earn a fair living up to the standard of living in Ontario. Another policy they have put forward is extending OHIP+, the free pharmacare program, for residents under 25 to also include senior citizens. This can potentially have a nationwide impact to start pharmacare programs in other provinces or even a nationwide program. Medicare started off in Saskatchewan, perhaps its Ontario’s turn to take the lead. Finally, the Liberals are proposing OSAP grants for lower income students. This will help the many future students who would otherwise struggle to pay off their student loans.

A government that has been in power for 15 years is sure to accumulate scandals regardless of the party. However the premier under which most of the scandals occurred resigned and thus it would be unfair to judge the government for that. However, the current iteration did have a scandal of its own. The Fair Hydro plan seeks to reduce the hydro rates by 25%. However, the way the went about this was to keep the added debt off the Ontario balance sheet with a scheme that can only be described as complicated. In doing so, the Ontario government is now saddled with an additional $4 billion in unnecessary interest payments.

In a change election, can change truly come from within the Liberal party? In other words, why have they only “gotten religion” now?

Finally, the NDP. The party has released a platform. With the Liberals recent shift to the left, Andrea Horwath and the NDP are left with little room to differentiate themselves.

The NDP says it will reduce hydro rates by 30%. It will do this by buying back the share of Hydro One that was sold off the private investors. It will also end time-of-use billing, instead preferring a flat billing structure. Another policy is to implement a pharmacare plan that will cover fewer drugs than the Liberals but will cover them for everybody. It will also cover dental care for workers, low-income children and retired seniors living without a pension. Finally on the education front, it will convert all student loans into grants and forgive any interest accrued on existing student loans.

The questions around the NDP isn’t so much anything they are known for, it’s that they are largely an unknown quantity. In a recent poll a small majority said they didn’t know her at all or know her well. In that poll a fifth of Ontarians didn’t even know her at all. Being in office for 9 years this isn’t a good sign. She is however consistently rated the highest out of all the leader in terms of likeability.

The last time the NDP formed government in 1990, they weren’t prepared to win or form government, with the leader at the time, Bob Rae, making plans to retire sometime in the next sitting legislature. Is the NDP prepared to govern Ontario this time around?

This is just a small sampling of the policies and decisions in play this election. Get informed, look into the policies that matter to you and vote.

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