The 28-day Ontario election campaign officially kicked off May 4, leading up to the June 2 vote. The parties have been making regular announcements on policies they would implement if elected to form government.
The NDP, which served as Official Opposition for the past four years, released a full platform in April and unveiled costing details in mid-May, while both the Liberals and the Greens have released fully costed platforms. The upstart Ontario Party has its platform commitments listed on its website.
The Progressive Conservatives haven’t released a platform, but made significant funding announcements for health care, schools and transit in the latter stages of their government. The party’s 2022 budget wasn’t passed and the PCs pledge to bring those funding promises back to the table if re-elected.
The Globe and Mail will be tracking platform promises for major issues as they are unveiled throughout the campaign. Here’s what the parties have released so far on the major issues affecting Ontarians.
Progressive Conservative Party
The PCs say their pitch for health care is rooted in overcoming the shortfalls of the system that came to light during the COVID-19 pandemic. As government, the party introduced what it calls A Plan to Stay Open with a focus on building more health care infrastructure and expanding the work force to ensure Ontario is better prepared for any future emergencies.
If re-elected, the PCs under Leader Doug Ford pledge to move forward with this plan that includes a $40-billion investment over the next 10 years to increase capacity across the system by building new hospitals and renewing existing facilities. They say this would include work on 50 major hospital projects, expected to add 3,000 hospital beds.
To address staffing shortages in rural communities, the party plans to spend $142-million to recruit and retain nurses and health care workers in underserved parts of the province. Up to 1,500 nurse graduates each year could have their full tuition reimbursed in exchange for committing to practice for two years in communities in need. Then, the party says the program would be further expanded in 2023 to provide upfront funding to 2,500 postsecondary students as part of a new Learn and Stay Grant.
The party has also pledged to provide nurses with a lump-sum payment of $5,000, through a $764-million investment, in an effort to retain nurses in the province. While in government, the party passed the contentious Bill 124, which limits annual pay increases for public-sector workers, including nurses, to one per cent for three years. The legislation remains in force and opposition parties have said they would repeal the law if elected.
If elected, the NDP under Leader Andrea Horwath, says it would implement a publicly funded program for mental-health care to provide therapy and counselling services through OHIP. This is expected to cost $500-million out of the gate and an additional $130-million to reduce the growing waiting list for children’s mental-health services to 30 days.
The party says a main priority would be to address the backlog of surgeries created during the pandemic by expanding operating-room hours to increase hospital capacity as well as hire more health care staff. The NDP plans to hire 30,000 nurses and expedite recognition of nursing credentials for up to 15,000 internationally trained nurses to immediately increase staffing levels. The party says this would be achieved by spending $623-million over three years. The plan also includes hiring 10,000 personal support workers and giving them a $5 raise above prepandemic levels (while in government, the PCs pledged a $3 salary increase).
Building off the federal agreement between the Liberal and NDP parties, the Ontario NDP commit to accelerate the rollout of the planned universal pharmacare and dental-care programs ahead of the five-year timeline. The first step to providing drug coverage to those without benefits is expected to cost $475-million.
The party also pledges to invest in harm-reduction strategies to address the opioid crisis as well as declare it a public-health emergency. It says this would include an expansion of supervised consumption sites in Northern Ontario and a pledge to press the federal government to decriminalize personal drug possession. The NDP also pledges to build a 40-bed detox centre in Thunder Bay to respond to the toxic drug supply.
The Ontario Liberals and Leader Steven Del Duca have committed to addressing staffing shortages and other challenges that arose during the pandemic. The party says this would include hiring 100,000 new nurses, doctors and other health care professionals and ensure all Ontarians have access to a family doctor. If elected, the party pledges to increase wages for health care workers, including a minimum $25 an hour for personal support workers.
Top-ups, the party says, would also be provided to health workers on short-staffed shift work. The party commits to making it easier to access mental-health services for all medical professionals. The Liberals also pledge to expand access to mental health services including training 3,000 new mental-health and addictions professionals.
The party says it intends to provide free access to PrEP, a medication used to prevent HIV transmission, as well as reduce waiting times and barriers to gender-affirming surgeries. The Liberals say they would also spend $1-billion to clear the backlog for surgeries and set maximum waiting times for the procedures.
The Green Party, under Leader Mike Schreiner, plan to introduce a mental-health care plan through OHIP and increase spending from seven to 10 per cent of the province’s health budget.
The party also plans to reduce waiting lists to 30 days or less for children’s mental-health services and develop a three-digit dedicated crisis-response line and health-focused crisis-response teams to respond to mental-health and substance related calls in Ontario.
An Ontario Party government says it would open up private health care opportunities and allow non-profit organizations and private corporations to build, own and manage hospitals and permit citizens to hold private medical insurance. The party also pledges to provide funding to expand public hospital-bed capacity and hire thousands of health care workers.
Want to stay on top of the biggest issues on the campaign trail?
Sign up for The Globe's Ontario election newsletter, send out twice a week until election day on June 2nd.
The party is pledging to expand and introduce tax credits if re-elected, but stops short of Mr. Ford’s previous election campaign promise in 2018 to cut income taxes by 20 per cent. Instead, the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax Credit would be expanded from a maximum annual income threshold of $38,500 to include those making up to $50,000. This enhanced credit would make about 700,000 more Ontarians eligible to receive the benefit, which would be an estimated $430.
Other incentives that the party says will put money back in the pockets of Ontarians include a new tax credit to help seniors with medical expenses, a six-month cut to gas and fuel taxes and an end to vehicle licence-plate renewal fees. The party says it is also committed to cracking down on fraud within the automobile insurance sector and exploring the potential for a fraud-reporting tool that could help prevent, detect and deter fraud.
In the budget tabled just before the election call, the PCs planned to spend $198.6-billion this fiscal year leading to an increased deficit of $19.9-billion with a plan to balance the budget by 2027-28. While in government, a minimum-wage increase of 50 cents to $15.50 was passed and is slated to be introduced Oct. 1.
The party is pledging a four-year income-tax freeze for individuals making less than $200,000 annually (subject to a household threshold that hasn’t been determined). Ms. Horwath has said that many low and middle-income families are struggling financially and can’t afford to pay more taxes. Instead, the party says it would raise income taxes by one per cent for people making more than $220,000 and two per cent on annual earnings of more than $300,000. The party also vows to raise the corporate tax rate back to 13 per cent but maintain the 3.2-per-cent rate for small businesses.
If elected, the NDP says it would work to bring down auto-insurance costs by banning postal-code discrimination so rates aren’t based on where someone lives. The party also pledges to increase wages for registered early childhood educators to $25 an hour and $20 an hour for all other child-care staff in order to support the $10-a-day child-care plan in conjunction with the federal government.
In a commitment to protect consumers, the NDP says it would direct the Ontario Energy Board to regulate the retail price and wholesale markup of gas to end gouging at the pump, especially on weekends (The NDP says this would take the place of the temporary gas tax cut set to come into effect in July). An independent consumer watchdog would also be formed to handle complaints of price gouging and investigate businesses that violate consumer protection laws.
The NDP plans to raise the minimum wage by $1 an hour every year until it hits $20 an hour in 2026. The party says the wage hike would include “targeted supports” for small businesses who need help increasing wages for employees.
In the Liberal Plan for Economic Dignity, the party pledges several incentives to benefit workers including 10 paid sick days, an increase of the minimum wage to $16 an hour in 2023, as well as creating a portable benefits package for all workers without coverage. The party also says it commits to pilot a four-day work week (as does the NDP) to study the potential and possibly expand. A “living-wage structure” would differentiate wages based on regions across the province to recognize the added expense of living in certain areas.
On the tax front, the Liberals say they would halt corporate income taxes for small businesses that lost more than 50 per cent of revenues as a result of the pandemic. This suspension would last for two years and is expected to cost $500-million. The party also promises to remove the eight-per-cent HST on all prepared food under $20. The party says this would be funded through a one-per-cent surtax on companies with an annual profit of more than $1-billion and a two-per-cent income-tax increase for individuals making more than $500,000.
To support seniors, the party says it would double the Old Age Security top up and increase amounts by up to $1,000 a year. The income eligibility threshold would also be increased to $25,000 for single seniors and $50,000 for couples.
The Green Party is pledging to immediately double Ontario Disability Support Program payments, more than any of the other parties. Both the Liberals and NDP are promising a 20-per-cent increase from the current rate, while the PCs pledge a five-per-cent hike. The NDP has since modified its plans to then double the ODSP rate in the second year.
The Ontario Party hasn’t released a position on taxes if elected, but the platform does focus on protecting property rights of residents. The party says it would limit the interference of conservation authorities on private property by requiring them to receive permission or a court order before entering any privately owned property.
Further, the party pledges to remove the ability of conservation authorities to halt the construction of buildings and other structures on private property where all building permit requirements have been met.
The recent PC budget has a section dedicated to building roads, transit infrastructure and bridges (the front page of the document shows cars travelling across dozens of lanes of traffic on Highway 401). A main pillar of the party’s re-election bid is a $25.1-billion investment over the next 10 years to build roadway infrastructure including the contentious Highway 413 (which opposition parties said they would halt) and the Bradford Bypass. Other projects announced in the budget include moving forward on the widening of Hwy. 402 east of Pickering and the QEW Garden City Skyway rehabilitation project.
If re-elected, the party pledges to continue work on planned transit projects by spending $61.6-billion over 10 years for public transit including working on the rapid transit Ontario Line and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, which would connect to the Toronto Pearson International Airport. Planning work would also be advanced on a Sheppard Subway Extension connecting to the existing Don Mills Station.
While in office, the PCs removed tolls on the 412 and 418 highways and also eliminated double fares for most local transit services when also using GO Transit. Fare discounts for youth and postsecondary students using the PRESTO system increased to 40 per cent off the full adult fare.
The NDP pledges to scrap Highway 413 and instead focus on already existing roads by designating the 11 and 17 highways as Class 1 roadways so they would be cleared of snow within eight hours. After the release of its platform, the NDP said the party would eliminate tolls on Hwy. 407 for all trucks and transport vehicles to reduce gridlock rather than build a new highway. The party plans to pay for this by going after $1-billion in Hwy. 407 congestion penalties that weren’t recovered by the PC government. It’s projected to cost $4-billion over 30 years.
The party says it would also focus on expanding Hwy. 7 between Kitchener and Guelph and constructing the Morriston Bypass. The NDP pledges that funds currently earmarked for the Hwy. 413 and Bradford Bypass transportation projects would be redirected to social and health infrastructure.
On transit, the NDP says it would increase funding for municipal public-transit services to 50 per cent of net operating costs as well as implement a two-hour, flat-rate fare across transit services in the GTA. The party commits to improving all-day GO Train service between Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto as well as extending the Hurontario LRT line to downtown Brampton.
As part of its projected revenues, the NDP plans to introduce a surtax on luxury vehicles of five per cent that have a cost between $90,000 and $100,000 and seven per cent on vehicles of more than $100,000.
Mr. Del Duca and the Ontario Liberals are campaigning on a “buck-a-ride, provincewide” promise that they say would cut fares for every transit system across the province to $1, no matter the length of the trip, and make transit service free for veterans. The commitment is time-limited until Jan. 2024. At that point, Mr. Del Duca said his team would work with municipalities to keep transit costs as low as possible. The goal, the party says, is to increase ridership closer to prepandemic levels and move people away from commuting by cars (the party estimates this will take an average of 400,000 vehicles off the road each day).
This proposal is expected to cost $1.8-billion with an additional $375-million in annual operating funding to increase service levels and the amount of routes to ensure demand for the program can be met. The party also pledges to halt Hwy. 413 and invest $10-billion (a projected cost for the project) into building schools and reducing the repair backlog.
The major parties have also committed to reinstating the Northlander train service in Northern Ontario, which the Liberals ended a decade ago. (Mr. Del Duca wasn’t an MPP when the decision was made but later served as transportation minister.) The party says it intends to reinstate the service from Toronto to North Bay within two years.
The Green Party says it would cut transit fares in half for at least three months as part of a plan to triple public-transit use by 2030. The party says it would create dedicated truck lanes on Hwy. 407 to reduce congestion and the need for more highways, as well as triple the amount of dedicated bus lanes in the province by 2025.
The party has yet to release a platform on transportation and infrastructure plans.
The Ontario PCs promised significant spending in mining and electric-vehicle production in its recent budget. In the latter stages of the party’s term, Mr. Ford and the PC government made several funding announcements in partnership with the federal government to manufacture EV batteries and build electric vehicles in Oshawa, Windsor, Alliston and Brampton. The PCs are touting that the government secured $14-billion in auto sector investments during the last term.
The party is also pledging $91-million to make EV chargers more accessible across the province by adding them at highway rest stops and hubs like carpool lots and provincial and municipal parks. While in office, the PCs cancelled rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles.
In the budget, the PCs promise to create a new provincial park in Ontario, but there are no details on the location, timeline or cost of the proposal, which is in its early stages. The party has also committed to adding 13 urban river valleys to the province’s Greenbelt, but stopped short of including other areas such as the Paris Galt Moraine, in order to further study how this could impact the creation of housing.
On climate change, the party’s emissions-reduction target falls short of the others, hoping to achieve a 30-per-cent reduction by 2030.
If elected, the NDP says it would enact its Green New Democratic Deal pledging to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. To meet the targets, the party promises to bring back a provincial cap-and-trade carbon pricing plan (scrapped by the PCs) to ensure large corporate polluters pay fairly for their emissions. The party says at least 25 per cent of the revenue would go to supports for rural, Northern and low-income families.
Other elements of the party’s climate policy include planting one billion trees by 2030, creating a Youth Climate Corps that it says would provide landscaping jobs for students and expansion of the Greenbelt to include more waterways. The party also commits to launching a provincial water strategy with the goal of ending all drinking-water advisories across Ontario.
After the platform was released, Ms. Horwath also announced plans to provide grants and zero-interest loans for families making energy-efficient upgrades on their homes. This retrofit program for public, commercial and residential buildings is expected to create 100,000 jobs and add more than $15.2-billion in economic activity by 2030. The party says its goal is to retrofit five per cent of buildings in Ontario per year.
The Ontario Liberal climate-change policy includes similar targets (50-per-cent emission reduction by 2030 and net-zero by 2050) to that of the NDP, but proposes different actions to get there. The party plans to create five new provincial parks, plant 800 million trees over eight years as well as ban new natural-gas plants and phase out the reliance on those already in existence.
The party says it is also committed to expanding the Greenbelt and designating 30 per cent of land as protected areas, up from the current 10 per cent. The Liberals say they would provide grants, up to $3,000 each year, for businesses and families making energy-efficiency upgrades to buildings and homes.
Much of the party’s climate plan is focused on the expansion of transit to encourage people to reduce their use of gas-powered vehicles (the buck-a-ride plan is expected to eliminate an estimated 400,000 car trips each day). An electric vehicle rebate plan, up to $9,500, is intended to entice residents to make the switch and the party would require all new passenger vehicles sold in Ontario to be zero-emission by 2035.
The Green Party says it has a comprehensive climate plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2045 (five years earlier than the NDP and Liberals have pitched). The plan includes adopting a “zero carbon law” and replacing fossil-fuel vehicles completely with electric vehicles and transit by 2040. The party says it would implement a carbon price that rises $25 per tonne annually until it reaches $300 a tonne.
The party pledges to permanently protect wetlands and prime farmland by expanding the Greenbelt to include a “Bluebelt” that would safeguard waterways from nearby development. The Greens promise to phase out gas plants in the province and use $2-billion per year through a Climate Adaptation Fund to help municipalities with building retrofit costs.
The party’s plan for a “new climate economy” has a four-year price tag of $65-billion, which would include financing electric-vehicle rebates of up to $10,000.
The Ontario Party doesn’t yet have a platform plank on the environment.
The budget tabled just before the election campaign began allocated $14-million in capital grants over 10 years to build and renovate schools. This would also include a pilot program to work with school boards to expedite construction of new schools with modular structures.
To address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education system, the PC government spent $597-million for tutoring and additional staff to aid in learning recovery for students. But the government did lay out $1.3-billion less in 2021-22 than initially budgeted. This was attributed to reduced enrolment during the pandemic and a reduction in community use of schools.
The government also decided to freeze postsecondary tuition fees for a third straight year and spend $42.5-million over two years to expand undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and training in Ontario.
The NDP says it would hire 20,000 teachers and education workers in an effort to help students recover after two years of learning disruptions. The addition of teachers would also be used to cap Grade 4 to 8 class sizes at 24 students and reduce the size of high-school classes.
Ms. Horwath said an NDP government would focus on eliminating the school repair backlog within 10 years, currently priced at $16.8-billion. The party says it would also invest in mental-health workers and child and youth workers in schools.
In terms of changes to the teaching structure, the NDP vows to end the standardized EQAO testing as well as the mandatory requirement for two online courses brought in under the Ford government.
The Liberal Party has released a number of details over the past week on its plans to revamp the public education system. Notably, Mr. Del Duca and his party are proposing a temporary optional reintroduction of Grade 13 for four years to support students impacted by the pandemic who feel they need another year before entering postsecondary studies. New courses under the Grade 13 curriculum would include personal finances, civics and mental health and well-being.
The Liberal plan also includes hiring 10,000 teachers and building 200 news schools as well as repair more than 4,500. Mr. Del Duca said this would be funded be redirecting funding of the projected $10-billion cost of building Highway 413. Like the NDP proposal, the party says it would also end EQAO testing and eliminate the two online course requirement.
The party pledges to also cap class sizes across the board at 20 students and hire 5,000 additional special education workers. If elected, the Liberals says they would add the COVID-19 vaccine to the compulsory immunization list for children in schools (the vaccine is currently available for those five and older). Like the other vaccines, the current exemptions for medical reasons or conscience and religious beliefs under the Immunization of School Pupils Act will apply.
The Green Party applauded the recent move to include climate education in the Ontario curriculum. The party has also called for class sizes to be lowered and for a focus to be put on student mental health.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greens have also pitched improvements to the system including lowering class sizes to 15 students. The party says it would also implement a provincewide school lunch program.
The Ontario Party is promising to provide $12,000 in funding per student no matter where they go to school – public, private, charter or home school. The party says it would also overhaul the curriculum and remove areas “not specifically tailored to core academic competencies,” but specifics haven’t been provided.
The party, under Leader Derek Sloan, says it would establish a government office empowered to investigate and discipline school personnel who breach new education legislation.
Housing affordability is a major issue facing Ontarians as the supply is low across the province. Just prior to the election, the PC government passed legislation in an effort to increase the amount of homes across the province. It includes increasing the non-resident speculation tax to 20 per cent, setting a deadline for municipalities to approve zoning changes and spending $19-million to curb the backlog at the Ontario Land Tribunal.
The legislation is built off recommendations of a housing task force but doesn’t act on all of the suggestions including ending exclusionary single-family zoning in certain neighbourhoods in order to rapidly increase the amount of housing. The party said it is committed to make that change but needs more time to engage with municipalities. The housing task force proposes a target of 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years.
The PCs say they are also committed to addressing unethical behaviour from developers by increasing fines and administrative penalties if projects aren’t completed in line with professional standards.
In an effort to address the housing crisis, Ms. Horwath and the NDP pledge to end exclusionary zoning to increase the supply of affordable housing. They plan to establish an organization titled Housing Ontario to finance and build at least 250,000 affordable and nonmarket rental homes over the next 10 years.
The NDP also pledges to reintroduce rent control and ensure new tenants pay what the last tenant paid. Rent control for buildings built after 2018 was scrapped by the PC government. The plan includes a focus on social housing by building 100,000 units and updating an additional 260,000.
The party also commits to cracking down on speculation by introducing a speculation and vacancy tax on residential property that’s not lived in. The rate would be two per cent of the assessed value and be phased in over two years.
The Liberal Party was the last to release its housing plan in its recent platform, promising a five-per-cent tax on vacant homes for foreign buyers and two per cent for Canadian owners. The party says the revenue, projected at $450-million a year, would go toward affordable housing projects.
The party said it supports the provincial housing task force’s target of building 1.5 million homes within the next 10 years and will strive toward the same goal. The Liberals also pledge to reinstate rent control for all buildings in the province, meaning landlords can only raise rents each year by a small regulated amount.
Mr. Del Duca’s Liberals are also promising to build 138,000 “deeply affordable” homes that would include supportive housing and homes for Indigenous people. To speed up housing construction, the Liberals plan to give municipalities $300-million over the next five years in an effort to expedite planning processes.
The party also pledges to implement a “use it or lose it” tax in an effort to force land-owning speculators to build or sell as well as a two per cent tax on vacant urban homes.
The Ontario Greens commit to building 160,000 affordable community rental homes in partnership with co-op and non-profit housing providers. The party’s housing-affordability strategy also includes building 22,000 Indigenous-owned and operated permanent homes and investing in developing 15-minute neighbourhoods.
The party says it intends to launch a Green Building Program to construct sustainable, energy-efficient developments. The Greens have also proposed a 20-per-cent tax on domestic buyers of multiple homes. The party says it would introduce a first-time home buyer support plan that would make sellers pay for home inspections as well as implement a provincewide multiple home speculation tax and vacant home tax.
The party says it is committed to adjusting exclusionary zoning by giving property owners more freedom to construct two- and four-unit residential buildings in existing neighbourhoods of single-family homes. The party also pledges to establish a foreign purchasing ban on residential homes and strike a money-laundering task force to investigate corruption in the industry.
The PCs are proposing a $1-billion investment in home care over the next three years if re-elected as well as a new tax credit to provide support for medical expenses. The party says the new credit would provide an estimated $110-million to about 200,000 senior families.
The party also plans to build 30,000 long-term care beds by 2028, through $6.4-billion in targeted funding since 2019.
The NDP is committing to make the long-term care system public and end privately operated homes. The party says it also plans to add 50,000 new beds to the system by 2030.
Along with spending $1-billion in home care, the NDP pledges to implement a property-tax deferral program for seniors that would allow the homeowners to defer paying taxes until the sale of the home. The party says it would also implement a caregiver benefit of $400 a month.
The Liberals plan to end for-profit long-term care and create 58,000 public long-term care spaces. The party says it would also provide home care for all who need it, estimated at helping 400,000 more seniors by 2026. (The Liberals say they would increase funding for home care by 10 per cent in order to meet the need).
The party pledges to expand a tax credit to help seniors pay for home repairs and equipment such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, ramps and lifts so residents can stay at home as long as possible.
The Greens plan to increase home-care funding by 20 per cent if elected and introduce a minimum wage of $25 an hour for personal support workers. The party also pledges to build 55,000 long-term care beds by 2033 and increase base funding by 10 per cent.
The party doesn’t have a platform plank dedicated to seniors.
Want to hear more about the Ontario election from our journalists? Subscribe to Vote of Confidence, a twice-weekly newsletter dedicated to the key issues in this campaign, landing in your inbox starting May 17 until election day on June 2.