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Politics Horwath lays out requests on home care, car insurance rates

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath. is seen in her office in Toronto, Ont., on Nov. 14, 2012.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the minority Liberal government to slash auto-insurance premiums by 15 per cent and pump $30-million into the health-care system to ensure no one has to wait more than five days to start receiving home care.

"I'm laying out some achievable steps that will make a real difference when it comes to helping people get back to work, improving their health care and making life more affordable," Ms. Horwath said.

The Liberals will need the backing of at least one opposition party to pass a budget and on Monday, and they left the door open to adopting some of Ms. Horwath's ideas. Premier-designate Kathleen Wynne's office said she was willing to talk about the NDP's proposals with her caucus, and that her staff would meet with Ms. Horwath's shortly.

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The NDP policies touch on Liberal areas of interest. A spokeswoman for Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Liberal insurance reforms had brought rates down by 0.26 per cent in 2012. The budget for home care has steadily increased, adding $200-million between 2009 and 2012, and extending care to tens of thousands more people.

The Progressive Conservatives, meanwhile, said Monday they would only support a Liberal budget if Ms. Wynne did more to bring down the province's $11.9-billion deficit. As it is now, the Liberals do not plan to balance the budget until the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

"We have to see an ability to pull spending in. We cannot go forward with a deficit that this year is estimated at about $12-billion, adding to a provincial debt that is basically skyrocketing," said finance critic Peter Shurman.

The Tories also launched a new attack ad featuring slow-motion, black-and-white footage of Ms. Wynne and departing Premier Dalton McGuinty at the Liberal leadership convention. In the 30-second spot, an announcer rhymes off the province's deficit problems while ominous-sounding synthesizer music plays in the background.

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