Speaking from the Toronto Western Hospital, on Monday, April 16, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath unveiled her party’s policy platform for the 2018 Ontario election.
Titled “Change for the Better,” the platform outlines the New Democrats’ plan for the province if elected. The policies presented – unsurprisingly – put emphasis on expanding existing social services, creating new programs, and increasing taxes on companies and higher earning individuals.
The NDP promises robust spending to develop infrastructure, quality of life, and curb government waste, but also acknowledges that the platform will run the province high deficits for multiple years.
Implemented over a 5-year period, the platform would create a not-for-profit daycare system, free for families earning less than $40,000 annually. According to the NDP’s website, the average Canadian should expect to pay around $12. The cost will be determined by a scale system based on income, the details of which have not been released.
Additionally, the NDP plan to initially create 202,000 new childcare spaces in Ontario, a 51% increase over current numbers. The goal moving forward is to add more than 10% every year after that.
Some of the largest, and most expensive, reforms come in the form of healthcare. The NDP wants to expand pharma-coverage with a $475-million universal plan that will cover 125 of the most commonly prescribed drugs. All Canadians will be eligible to receive the coverage regardless of income.
They are also looking to increase the infrastructure of healthcare by spending $19 billion in funding for hospitals over a 10-year period. Their goal is to create 2,000 new hospital beds during that time.
To help pay for their proposed changes the NDP government would raise personal income tax on Canadians earning over $220,000 by 1% and 2% for those making over $300,000.
The NDP will also be introducing a “Housing Speculation Tax.” The goal is to reduce the amount of national and international real estate speculators who don’t pay any other taxes in Ontario.
Other positions in the platform include the conversion of all student debt into grants, 15,000 new long-term healthcare beds by 2023, 65,000 new affordable housing units, the creation of a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, more funding for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program, a 15% reduction of auto insurance rates and more.
The initial cost of the platform will run the province an estimated $3.3 billion deficit during 2018-2019 and a $1.9 billion deficit in 2022-2023.
The release of the platform will also coincide with an Ontario tour, as Horwath and the NDP attempt to win over disaffected liberal and centrist voters, who are unhappy with the liberals but wary of Doug Ford’s promises of mass deregulation.