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Ontario NDP to negotiate with Premier for budget deal this week

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has taken a tougher approach to provincial politics.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath will begin negotiating a possible budget deal with Premier Kathleen Wynne this week, as her party finishes consultations on the fiscal plan.

With Ms. Wynne's Liberals holding only a minority of seats in the provincial parliament, and the Progressive Conservatives vowing to vote against the budget, the Premier must secure NDP support to allow the budget to pass and avert a spring election. To that end, the Liberals bowed to several NDP demands in the budget, with measures to cut car insurance rates and improve home care.

The New Democrats have been rolling out more demands, such as giving the provincial ombudsman oversight of the health care system, as they undertake online and telephone consultations with voters on the budget.

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On Monday, Ms. Horwath said she would present the results of the consultations Tuesday morning and schedule a meeting with Ms. Wynne.

"What Ontarians are telling us is that they don't want lip service paid to the things that they need results on. We want to make sure that people get results. They want to make sure that the government is accountable for those results," she said. "Ultimately, it'll be up to premier to decide if she's going to be accountable to Ontarians or not."

Ms. Wynne and Ms. Horwath have not met since March 14. The Premier's office has repeatedly asked for another meeting.

The Liberals have been pressuring Ms. Horwath hard to do a deal, with Ms. Wynne holding near-daily photo-ops to highlight the social policies that will die if the budget is defeated.

The Tories, meanwhile, are pushing her from the other side.

Over the weekend, PC Finance Critic Peter Shurman wrote to his NDP counterpart, Michael Prue, urging the party to team up with the Tories and take down the government.

"At the end of the day, we are looking for jobs and we are looking for an improvement in the economy and there is only one way to get that, which is change," Mr. Shurman said. "I appeal to him, and through him to Andrea Horwath and the NDP, to do the right thing."

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