Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne wants her government’s first budget passed by the end of June, warning that important social spending will die if the fiscal blueprint is not approved by then.
The move is meant to ratchet up pressure on NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose backing Ms. Wynne needs to avoid an election.
On Monday, Ms. Wynne visited an Early Years Centre in Thorncliffe Park, a family-filled neighbourhood of tenement apartment buildings, to highlight her government’s plan to increase the Ontario Child Benefit, one of the initiatives she said would be killed if Ms. Horwath votes down the budget.
With the Progressive Conservatives vowing months ago to vote against the budget, the Premier bowed to numerous NDP demands in a bid for Ms. Horwath’s support. But the New Democrat leader said she must gather feedback from Ontarians online and over the phone before deciding which way to vote.
“It is absolutely her prerogative to talk to more people about her concerns or about the budget, that is her prerogative and I give her full credit for what she says she needs to do,” Ms. Wynne said of Ms. Horwath. “But the reality is that now we’ve had all those conversations, and now I think it’s time to make a decision, I really do. It’s her prerogative to continue to talk to people, but I think now’s the time to decide.”
The legislature must vote on the budget motion by the end of this month. The implementation bill will then go to committee for amendments before returning to the house for final approval.
Ms. Horwath remained non-committal Monday, saying she has not yet met with Ms. Wynne. “That’ll come in good time – at this point I’m more focused on discussions with Ontarians,” she said.