TORONTO – The Liberals, in theory, are running on their May budget – the promise-filled document NDP leader Andrea Horwath voted down. They re-released that plan this past Sunday. hoping to be re-elected based on their May budget.
Here’s some of what you may have missed:
Transit funding explained (again)
The Liberals have promised to earmark about $14.5 billion in revenue from the gas tax and HST to build transit – but that money is already paying for something. So what’s being cut in favour of transit? Nothing, they say.
Confused? So were we. But here’s how it’s supposed to work: The money set aside from these existing pots of money will be made up with new taxes – personal income tax hikes on the richest two per cent, an increase in the tobacco tax and increases in taxes that mirror changes put in place by the feds. Over a decade, that should make up for the money taken from existing revenue. (Of course, this plan still relies on several billion dollars from Ottawa, and borrowing several billion more. But that’s another story)
A made-in-Ontario Kickstarter
Everyone loves Kickstarter and IndieGogo until the guy whose new video game you thought you were funding disappears without a trace.
With this in mind, the Ontario Liberals want to follow the lead of jurisdictions like Washington state, introducing a regulated form of crowd-funding that lets the average Joe invest in cool new projects, with protection from fraud.
Less “red tape” to buy booze
We’re pretty sure this just means alcohol for sale in major grocery chains, an idea the Liberals floated earlier this year. But the party wouldn’t tell us.
In case you were wondering – we certainly were – this is how much closer you’d be to booze if it were sold at corner stores across Toronto.
Search your address in the box on the upper-left corner; double-click to zoom, click and drag to move around. Click a circle for details.
A pause on compulsory trades
Arguably as a response to the PCs’ full-throated attack on the Ontario College of Trades (whose Tim Hudak appears to hold solely responsible for 200,000 lost jobs a year), the Liberals are promising to review its mandate, and pause any new additions of compulsory trades in the meantime. It’s not clear how long that review will take, or what they may change as a result.
Growing the Greenbelt
The Liberal plan promises to set aside more land in southern Ontario’s Greenbelt, a move likely to please conservationists (assuming the designation has teeth) and infuriate developers in some of the fastest-growing areas in the province.
More money for mental health
The Liberal platform has vowed to expand an ongoing mental health strategy by targeting one of the most oft-criticized aspects of the system: The transition from childhood to adulthood for people with mental illness, from inpatient to outpatient or from hospital to assisted living. This will eventually provide about $83 million a year.
The Liberals also pledged to fund infertility treatments and create an end-of-life strategy. They did not however, tell us how much either of those would cost.
– With files from Jesse Ward