TORONTO – The results are in: Kathleen Wynne is still Ontario’s premier, and she has a larger mandate than ever.
After you’re done celebrating, weeping, or defending yourself because hey, you voted for Kodos, here’s a primer of what you should expect from Wynne’s government based on the promises she made in her election-triggering budget and the election campaign.
Kathleen Wynne promised to re-introduce their budget within 20 days of being elected. The budget featured a higher than previously projected deficit and several new spending initiatives along with new taxes for smokers, aviators and the wealthy.
Start the countdown now.
Transit was a large part of Wynne’s strategy heading into the election: she promised several new revenue tools – including a hike to aviation and tobacco taxes – to fill in the gap created by diverting roughly $740 million each year to building new transit in the province.
Some of their priority projects include the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (whose construction is already well under way, as anyone who’s tried to navigate Eglinton recently knows), the Brampton LRT, the electrification of some GO Transit lines, an extension of the Yonge line north to Vaughan and the badly-needed relief line.
The Ontario Pension Plan
One of Wynne’s biggest promises from the budget and the campaign was a made-in-Ontario pension plan. If passed, employees will have to contribute 1.9 per cent of their annual income that will be matched by their employers.
Government estimates suggest this will raise approximately $3.5 billion to be invested by a board operating “at arm’s length” from the government.
Less ‘red tape’ to buy booze
The Liberals promised to remove some of the “red tape” associated with getting a drink in the province. This likely just means being able to buy some alcohol in larger grocery stores (not in corner stores, as some suggested) but the party was loath to release details – so this is something to watch.
24-7 access to primary health care by 2018
Wynne promised during the campaign that by 2018, all Ontarians would have guaranteed access to 24/7 primary health care by 2018. The Ontario Medical Association suggests that more than 700,000 Ontarians lack access to primary care.
“But that is our commitment, to reach all of these Ontarians. It’s my commitment as the leader of the Liberal party and what we will follow through on if I am privileged to be premier after June 12,” Wynne said when announcing the promise.
The Drive Clean program
Wynne has promised to keep the Drive Clean program despite a Global News investigation found newer model cars almost never fail.
Wynne has promised hospital expansion, a hike to health worker pay, expanding the province’s mental health strategy and children’s health benefits for low-income families.
Wynne has promised to hike rates for welfare, Ontario Child Benefit and Ontario Disability Support Program, as well as extending health benefits – for prescription drugs, for example – to kids in low-income families. She’s also pledged money for affordable housing.