Premier Kathleen Wynne is “interested” in some of the accountability measures NDP Leader Andrea Horwath presented her as a condition for supporting the minority Liberals’ budget.
Ms. Wynne said Thursday she believes the two sides can reach a deal and she wants to sit down with Ms. Horwath again early next week.
“I’m optimistic,” she said, in her first comments since meeting with Ms. Horwath Wednesday. “I do feel optimistic that there is enough common ground that we will be able to get the budget passed.”
With the Liberals holding only a minority in the legislature and the Progressive Conservatives vowing to vote against the budget, the NDP is Ms. Wynne’s only hope to pass the fiscal plan and avert an election. To that end, the Liberals packed the budget with NDP-friendly policies, including a cut to car insurance rates and job creation programs for young people.
Ms. Horwath then asked for more, including an independent budget watchdog office, ombudsman oversight of the health care system and that the Liberals drop a plan for new toll lanes on Toronto-area expressways to pay for public transit.
Although Ms. Wynne said her discussions with Ms. Horwath are confidential, she is open to the budget watchdog.
“I was interested in her idea of a financial accountability officer. I thought that that’s an interesting idea, and put some other things forward,” she said, adding later: “There is always more that we can do to make sure that we are tracking and monitoring and measuring the outcomes of our programs and services. So I’m absolutely open to that.”
Ms. Wynne’s tone was similar to that of Ms. Horwath’s the previous day.
The NDP Leader said her message had got through to her Liberal counterpart.
Ms. Horwath must still meet with her caucus to discuss the Premier’s offer, but Ms. Wynne said she hoped they could meet again early next week and cut a deal “in the very near future.”
The legislature must hold its first budget vote by June 3.