Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives have released a list of their spending promises but won’t be delivering a fully costed platform or a plan to eliminate the deficit before voters head to the poll on June 7.
After weeks of vowing to deliver a fully costed platform like those released by the Liberals and New Democrats, the Tories quietly released their Plan for the People on Wednesday on the party’s website. While the document lists the price of many of the PCs’ initiatives, a party official confirmed that a full accounting of the Tories’ promises won’t be released before Election Day.
“We’ve been talking about our plan every day and it’s all there in one spot,” said Melissa Lantsman, a PC Party spokeswoman. She said no more financial information from the party was forthcoming.
While PC Leader Doug Ford has previously promised to balance the budget in his first term in office, no timeframe is included in the party’s plan. Mr. Ford’s long-repeated promise to cut $6-billion in existing government spending through efficiencies also does not appear in the plan. “We do not know the state of Ontario’s finances and anyone who tells you they do is lying to you,” Ms. Lantsman said.
Facing questions from reporters about whether his party would release a platform that lists the province’s total projected spending and revenues under a PC government, Mr. Ford promised on Monday that his plan would be fully costed. “We’re going to have a very clear, costed platform,” he said at the time. Mr. Ford made no official statement about the release of his party’s plan on Wednesday.
With Mr. Ford’s party falling behind the New Democrats in a number of polls, the PC Leader has been on the defensive as his two opponents have criticized him for not releasing a full platform. Both NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne have said that the PCs’ decision not to release a fully costed plan is disrespectful of voters.
“Look: This is not a fully costed plan, it’s not coherent,” Ms. Wynne said during a campaign stop on Wednesday where she called for the construction of more subways in Greater Toronto. “All of the things that Doug Ford has said would add up to a $40-billion hole and they have no idea how they would find that.”
The Liberals have calculated that Mr. Ford’s promised taxes cuts and spending increases would cost about $40-billion over three years and would add more than $27-billion to the province’s deficit between 2019 and 2022.
“There will be cutting of projects and there will be cutting of services, and I think that’s a hard thing for Doug Ford and his team to admit to and that’s why they haven’t put out a fully costed plan,” Ms. Wynne said.
Ms. Horwath was equally dismissive of the Tory Leader, saying it wasn’t good enough for Mr. Ford to write a “list of things he might do and put it on the internet.”
Look: This is not a fully costed plan, it’s not coherent. All of the things that Doug Ford has said would add up to a $40-billion hole and they have no idea how they would find that.— Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne
People should know what Mr. Ford’s plans are, what he’s going to cut and what services might be at risk, the NDP Leader said.
“His list of things to do that he put on his website is not going to help people to decide which way to vote and what’s in their best interest in this campaign,” Ms. Horwath said.
Mr. Ford’s plan calls for a 12-per-cent reduction to electricity bills and the cancellation of hydro contracts to save money on bills. The proposals would cost the government about $833-million annually, according to the party.
The Tories have promised an income-tax cut, which the party said would cost $2.26-billion annually, but starting only in a PC government’s third year in office. They also committed to a 10-cent-per-litre cut to gasoline taxes at an annual cost of $1.19-billion.
There would be an audit of the province’s books and an inquiry into the province’s deficit, the PCs said, including what the party calls a value-for-money audit of every government program.
Mr. Ford’s environmental plan calls for dismantling the province’s cap-and-trade program and resisting a carbon tax. Instead the party says it would “set up an emissions-reduction fund” to invest in new technologies, hire more conservation officers and commit more spending to pick up garbage in city parks. The party’s environmental spending would cost about $125-million annually.