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Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak speaks to reporters while campaigning at Ranfar Steel Ltd. in Courtice, Ont. on May 10.

Darren Calabrese/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak announced Saturday that if elected he would make Ontario's business taxes the lowest in North America, which would create 120,000 new jobs in the province.

Reducing corporate taxes by 30 per cent — down from the current 11.5 per cent to eight per cent — is the third step of Hudak's eight-year plan to create one million new jobs in the province, he said.

"That will send a signal fire right across the world to say, 'Invest in Ontario. Add on that new machine. Hire more men and women," Hudak said at the Ranfar steel company in Courtice, Ont.

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"It will be the lowest tax in North America on job creation. That will create 120,000 more good jobs for workers. Isn't it time we gave more opportunity in this province for workers?"

To pay for the plan, Hudak said he would replace grants to businesses, which he is calling "corporate welfare," with the corporate tax reduction.

Those programs favour "well-connected" businesses and cost taxpayers up to $2 billion per year, Hudak said.

"Liberals are big in the crony capitalism business, I understand that, so fancy Liberal lobbyists are making out like bandits while people get laid off — real people," Hudak said.

"The only thing worse than big government is when big government gets into bed with big business — that means you lose. I would change that."

Liberal Brad Duguid said in a news release that Hudak's plan to end the grants will put thousands out of work by cancelling "job-creating partnerships that are working."

"Ontario created 25,800 new full-time jobs last month, but Tim Hudak's job cuts would stop Ontario's recovery and plunge us right back into recession," Duguid wrote.

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He noted examples of jobs that he said have been created under the programs, such as 1,700 through a partnership with Cisco and as many as 1,200 jobs at Kitchener-Waterloo-based OpenText.

Hudak's announcement Saturday came a day after he pledged to cut 100,000 public sector jobs as a way to help eliminate the $12.5-billion deficit by 2016. Hudak has said his plan to cut those jobs would spur job creation in the private sector.

At a campaign event in Brampton, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Hudak's business tax proposal is "more of the same."

"The Liberals were cutting corporate taxes, we didn't get jobs from that, we didn't get investment in Ontario," she said.

"What makes sense is actually rewarding the job creators, rewarding the companies that are investing in Ontario, not continuing down the road of failed Liberal and Conservative policies of the past."

Another plank in Hudak's platform to create one million jobs over eight years is getting more young people into apprenticeships for the skilled trades.

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Allowing more skilled trade apprentices on work sites would help create 200,000 positions, he has said.

Hudak said this is a single-issue election campaign focused on creating more jobs, and added that his party would reduce the size and cost of the government.

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