Ontario voters go to the polls on Thursday. Here’s what the three major parties — the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats — have promised to do if they form the next government:
— Eliminate the $12.5-billion budget deficit by 2017-18.
— Create a 10-year, $2.5-billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund to partner with industries poised for growth.
— Invest $15 billion in transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, including the electrification of GO Transit commuter trains and a downtown Toronto subway relief line.
— Invest $14 billion in roads, bridges, highways and other transit projects outside the GTHA, including $1 billion to support the development of the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario with or without financial help from the federal Conservatives.
— Provide up to $230 million to expand access to natural gas in under-served communities, including agricultural communities.
— Increase income taxes for individuals earning more than $150,000.
— Create an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan which could be integrated into a CPP expansion in the future.
— Guarantee that every Ontarian has access to a primary care provider, as well as continue to reduce health-care wait times, focusing on referrals to specialists.
— Provide wage increases to child-care workers outside the public school system.
— Continue the 30-per-cent tuition grant for post-secondary education.
— Promise to build new campuses and create spaces for 15,000 more post secondary students in Ontario.
— Increase the number of apprentices training in Ontario.
— Create one million jobs over the next eight years. More than 523,000 jobs would be created anyway if the government simply continued the policies of the last decade.
Here’s how they plan to get the rest of the jobs:
— Eliminate 100,000 jobs in public sector over four years, then keep it in line with population growth which would help create 43,184 jobs over the following four years.
— Abolish the College of Trades and eliminate restrictions on the skilled trades, which would help create 170,240 jobs.
— Reduce corporate taxes to eight per cent, down from the current 11.5 per cent, which would create 119,808 jobs.
— Reduce personal income tax by 10 per cent after the budget is balanced, which would create 47,080 jobs.
— Put the province in charge of all rail-based transit and major highways in the Greater Toronto Area; establish a new east-west express line connecting Etobicoke to Scarborough through Toronto’s downtown; expand major highways and GO Transit. This would create 96,000 jobs.
— Lower energy prices by cutting the bureaucracy at Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation; end subsidies for wind and solar power and reduce the number of provincial electricity agencies. This will help create 40,384 jobs.
— Cut regulations on business, such as so-called “eco-fees” for recycling, which would create 84,800 jobs.
— Develop the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, which would create 4,400 jobs.
— Participate in free trade agreement with British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, which would create 1,592 jobs.
Other highlights of the PC platform:
— Eliminate the $12.5 billion deficit by 2016-17, one year ahead of the Liberals and NDP.
— Reduce the number of ministries from 27 to 16.
— Implement a two-year pay freeze, by legislation if necessary, for all public servants, including MPPs, senior civil servants and the more than 4,000 collective bargaining agreements across the entire public sector payroll.
— Raise the targets in schools for reading, writing and math, introduce a financial literacy curriculum, upgrade the math curriculum to ensure that students are taught proven math techniques, like memorizing multiplication tables, and increase the use of specialized math teachers in Grade 4 and Grade 6.
— Raise corporate tax rate from 11.5 to 12.5 per cent and cut small business tax rate from 4.5 to 3 per cent.
— Eliminate Ontario’s $12.5-billion deficit by 2017-18.
— Targeted tax cuts for companies that create jobs, up to $5,000 per employee, but with “strings attached” to make sure the strategy achieves its goals.
— Force the provincial regulator to order a 15 per cent cut to auto insurance premiums.
— Dedicated fund to provide $29 billion over 10 years for transit and transportation project.
— Take the provincial portion of the HST off hydro bills, repeal the debt retirement charge, merge four hydro agencies.
— Cut emergency room wait times in half by using more nurse practitioners.
— Guarantee that patients discharged from hospital who need home care would get it within five days.
— A $1,275 family caregiver tax credit to help seniors live at home.
— Open 50 new 24-hour family health clinics.
— Hire up to 1,000 more educational assistants in schools.
— Freeze college and university tuitions, make student loans interest-free and forgive up to $20,000 a year of student debt for doctors who agree to work in under-serviced areas.
— Appoint a minister of savings and accountability to save $600 million a year, starting in 2015-16.
— Restore Ontario Northland Rail passenger service.