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Welcome back to Vote of Confidence, The Globe’s Ontario election newsletter.

Today we’re looking at the topic that’s on pretty much everyone’s mind these days, though when the parties released their platforms, gas prices weren’t quite the going concern that they’ve become. That’s right, we’re talking about money.

Patrick Brethour, The Globe’s tax and fiscal policy reporter, dove into the proposed budgets for each of Ontario’s major parties to parse what they’re promising in terms of dollars spent and dollars saved.

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Illustration by Min Gyo Chung

No matter who wins next month’s Ontario election, two economic policies are guaranteed: ample support for the transition to green jobs – and ample red ink as deficits linger.

There is considerable overlap in the economic visions presented by Progressive Conservatives, New Democrats and the Liberals, much more so than in the 2018 election when Doug Ford’s Tories were preaching fiscal restraint.

Common themes on the campaign trail
  • Creation of green jobs
  • Development of Northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire
  • The deficit

This time out, all three major parties are willing to run large deficits (although to different degrees). And all four parties are focusing on green jobs, with the mining of critical minerals in Ontario’s north central to those plans.

Where the parties are promising green jobs

The Progressive Conservatives tout their “investments” to date in several green-themed manufacturing expansions, including a planned zero-emissions vehicle battery plant in Windsor, Ont. There are continued incentives for mining exploration. Most significantly, the Tories promise to build infrastructure to allow easier access to the Ring of Fire region, home to major deposits of the critical minerals needed for EV batteries.

The Liberals would take a similar approach, but in addition would create a “Green Jobs Fund” to invest in clean technology. Similarly, the NDP would develop the Ring of Fire, but the party says its efforts would be more respectful of Indigenous rights. The Green Party, unsurprisingly, is proposing a wide range of policies promoting electrified transportation, along with what it describes as the environmentally friendly development of critical minerals.

The parties’ plans for their budgets

On the provincial deficit, there are just shades of red to pick from. In the spring budget, the PCs proposed to run a string of deficits through to fiscal 2027-28. That’s an improvement from a year ago, but falls short of the kind of fiscal conservatism that featured in the 2018 campaign, when a balanced budget in their first term was promised.

The Liberals claim to have a plan to balance the budget a year earlier than their Tory rivals, but that assertion rests on the optimistic assumption that the federal government will provide billions of dollars in new funds. Without that federal money, the provincial deficit would increase under the Liberals.

Deficits would be even larger under the NDP plan, close to double what the PCs projected for the 2024-25 fiscal year. The Greens would be relatively thrifty, although the party’s deficit projections depend on the federal government agreeing to implement a wealth tax.

What taxes will look like for each party

Taxes are one issue where there is a significant difference between the parties – or at least between the Progressive Conservatives and everyone else. For the most part, the PCs would hold the line on taxes; an already implemented cut to vehicle-licence fees and a temporary reduction in fuel taxes are the only significant measures promised.

But the other three parties would all raise personal and corporate taxes, to varying degrees. The Greens would hike taxes the most. But the NDP is not far behind, with proposals for higher income taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000, increases to capital gains taxes, higher corporate taxes and a residential vacancy tax.

The Liberals would take many similar steps, including a new income tax bracket for Ontarians earning more than $500,000, and a boost to the province’s corporate income tax rate for firms earning more than $1-billion annually.

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A vehicle charging station is seen in an Ottawa parking garage on April 12.Spencer Colby/The Globe and Mail

What happened on the campaign trail this week?

Election day is one week away. Today, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford is in Hamilton at a rally, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath started her day in Brampton talking about a plan to end hallway medicine, and Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca was scheduled to make an announcement in Richmond Hill on ending for-profit elder care.

The long-term care system is a stated priority for all parties, and three of Ontario’s four major political parties have pledged to remove for-profit care from the system. Only the Progressive Conservatives have rejected calls to phase out for-profit operators.

A new poll by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail shows Doug Ford as the top choice in the Ontario election on pocketbook issues, and Andrea Horwath as the most trusted to fix the flaws in Ontario’s health care system brought to light during the pandemic.

The Globe’s platform guide breaks down each party’s promises on key issues such as health care, the economy, transportation, the environment, education and housing.

“There are two big stories in the recent history of power generation in Ontario – how the province lowered its emissions, and how it ended up with higher electricity prices. Both shape how the province’s political parties have approached the issue of electricity in the ongoing election campaign.” Read more from The Globe’s editorial board on Ontario’s power plans.

Important upcoming dates

May 27 – Deadline to apply to vote by mail

May 28 – Last day to vote at an advance poll

June 2 – Election day

Note: For both advance polls and election day, if you have not previously registered, you will need to bring ID with your current residential address in order for an official to check for your name, or to add you to the voters list.

Looking for more information on how and where to vote, as well as who is running in your riding? The Globe’s Ontario election page has all the answers.

Vote of Confidence is The Globe and Mail’s newsletter focused on the 2022 Ontario election. Write to us about which issues you want to hear about and express your opinion on the policies and people we’ve examined. If you’re reading this through a browser, you can subscribe to the newsletter.

Follow Patrick Brethour on Twitter: @patrickbrethourOpens in a new window
Follow Rebecca Zamon on Twitter: @rebzamOpens in a new window
Follow Caora McKenna on Twitter: @caora_mckOpens in a new window

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