What’s the cost of Doug Ford’s promises?
With the Ontario election just days away, PC Leader Doug Ford, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne and the NDP’s Andrea Horwath continue to make campaign stops across the province following of Wynne’s admission over the weekend that her party is facing election defeat.
As voters head to the polls June 7, Global News has assembled a cheat sheet that looks at each party’s platform.
Ford’s PCs have faced sharp criticism from his opponents who accused him of breaking a promise to release a fully costed platform ahead of the election. The Tories instead released a plan which lists many of the party’s initiatives but does not include a detailed fiscal plan or a path to eliminate the deficit.
Ford has campaigned on fiscal responsibility despite not giving a firm commitment on when his government would balance its books only saying that he would run a deficit in his first year. Ford has focused most of his criticism on Wynne’s fiscal record and has warned an NDP government would be “10 times worse” than the Liberals.
“We have a dollar figure right beside every single item,” Ford said at a campaign stop last week. “We’re the only party that’s fiscally responsible. We’re the only party that is accurate.”
WATCH: Latest updates on Ontario election
Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer, said while the Tories have listed costs for some of their priorities it falls well short of the “best practice” a multi-year fiscal outlook that includes revenues, spending, deficit forecasts, and debt payments.
“It tells Ontario citizens what are the intentions of the Progressive Conservatives should they form a government, which is good,” said Page. “There is some financial information provided but it’s certainly not presented in terms of a fiscal framework.”
“There is no evidence they can balance the budget with this platform,” he said. “It’s not going to add credibility to Mr. Ford when he’s out there saying he is going to provide fiscal management.”
Ford has promised to hire an outside auditing firm to look at the Liberals’ spending and find billions of dollars in “efficiencies” if elected premier.
“Doug Ford will go line by line through the government books with the help of an independent auditor to find value for money and savings for taxpayers,” a PC spokesperson said last month.
Both the Liberals and the NDP, who are pitching deficits and tax increases to pay for their own promises, have claimed a Ford government would have to implement massive cuts. Ford has said a PC government would run a deficit but present a balanced budget by the end of its term.
Here’s a closer look at what we know about Ford’s spending promises.(Numbers taken from PC party website):
Tax cuts and rebates
Ford has pitched a series of tax cuts he said will stimulate the economy and put more money in the pockets of Ontarians. Together they add up to roughly $5.76 billion in lost revenue each year.
- Ford promised a 20 per cent reduction in the rate of the province’s second tax bracket, which the party said would save individuals up to $786 per year. If elected, the move would be implemented in the third and fourth years of Ford’s mandate. Cost: $2.26 billion per year.
- The Tories have also pledged to reduce the corporate tax rate to 10.5 per cent from 11.5 per cent starting in Year 2. Cost: $1.3 billion annually.
- Ford promised to lower the price of gasoline by 10 cents a litre by scrapping the province’s cap and trade scheme and lowering fuel taxes to 9 cents per litre. Cost: $1.19 billion per year, though cap and trade emission auctions brought in nearly $2 billion in 2017, and the gas tax also generated $2.7 billion.
- After promising not to follow through with the Liberals’ scheduled $15 minimum wage hike in 2019, the PCs committed to eliminating provincial taxes for minimum wage earners. Cost: $558 million per year.
- Ford’s child-care plan comes in the form of a tax rebate of up to $6,750 per child for families with child-care expenses. Cost: $389 million per year.
- Ford promised to lower the rate of tax for small businesses to 3.2 per cent from 3.5 per cent in the second year of his mandate. Cost: $60 million annually.
The Tories have made a series of big-spending promises on transit, health care and other key priorities. So far, the PCs promises add up to just over $8 billion.
- Ford has pledged money for subways, relief lines and two-way GO Transit service to Niagara Falls. He said this funding is on top of what the provincial government has already allocated for transit. Cost: $5 billion. (Timeframe this money would be delivered is not clear.)
- Ford committed to additional help for hydro customers, promising to reduce rates by 12 per cent or an average of $173 a year. Cost: $733 to $833 million per year.
- Uploading responsibility for Toronto transit infrastructure onto the provincial government. Cost: $160 million per year for current assets alone.
- Ford has pledged to explore the potential for high-speed rail and highway projects including adding additional lanes to Highway 401 and highways 3 and 17. The party earmarked $20 million for study and improvement of the 401 and said the cost of the other highway work would be amortized over 50 years, with an annual cost of $5 million per year.
- Ford committed funding for mental health and addictions and supportive housing. Cost: $190 million per year for 10 years
- A Tory government would increase funding for children with autism. Cost: $100 million over mandate
- The PCs have also committed to creating 15,000 long-term beds within five years, and 30,000 over the next 10 years. Cost: The capital costs would be spread out over the life of the assets; once operational the cost is $62,000 per bed per year.
- Ford is promising to fire the CEO and directors of Hydro One over their compensation packages. Firing the CEO alone would cost at least $10.7 million in severance. Cost: unknown
- Ford promised a Tory government would offer dental coverage for low-income seniors. Cost: $98 million per year
- The Tories have promised to boost the cap on a provincial insurance program for farmers from $100 million to $150 million in the third year of the mandate. Cost: $50 million per year.
- The party has vowed to conduct a value-for-money audit and commission of inquiry into government spending: Cost: $1 million
- Ford has vowed to fight a possible federal carbon tax. Cost: $30 million
- Starting in Year 2 of a Tory mandate, the party wants to share revenues directly with northern Ontario communities for Ring of Fire resource projects. Cost: $30 million per year.
- As part of a platform on northern Ontario, the party plans to reduce aviation fuel taxes to bring down the cost of flying-in supplies. Cost: $11 million per year.
- The PCs want to bring back passenger rail service to northern Ontario. Cost: $45 million.
- The PCs have pledged to support a series of environmental initiatives to create a “cleaner Ontario.” Cost: $500 million
- The Tories would restore funding to guns and gangs police units in Toronto and Ottawa. Cost: $3 million per year.
- The party pledged to set up additional funds for police to fight organized crime, human trafficking and drugs: Cost $35 million.
- The party vowed to hire more corrections, probation and parole officers starting in the second year of its mandate. Cost: $30 million per year.
- Ford has also vowed to tackle Ontario’s debt — currently projected at $325 billion for 2018-2019 — and balance a budget by the end of his term. Cost: unknown
- Ending the province’s cap and trade emission pricing plan, which generates $1.9 billion per year. Cost: $1.9 billion.
Savings/new sources of revenue
- Ford plans to save up to $100 million by allowing private companies to expand natural gas lines. The savings would go towards rural high-speed internet.
- The party has vowed to scrap the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, which it referred to as corporate welfare, to create savings of $270 million per year.
- Finding efficiencies through spending audits. Savings: Unknown.
How does Ford’s plan stack up?
While Ford’s opponents have sharply criticized his decision not to release a fully costed platform, the other main parties have. Here’s a quick look at the fiscal plans laid out by the NDP, Liberals and Green Party.
- The NDP platform, which does not include the latest commitments from the Liberals, pledges $5.356 billion in new spending in the first year, and $1.4 billion in new revenue it expects to collect through taxes. Both spending and new revenues ramp up dramatically after that year. Initially, the party said it planned to run five years of deficits, starting at $3.3 billion 2018-2019, and hitting a high of $5 billion in 2020-2021, but due to an error pointed out by the Liberals, the party has boosted the first-year deficit estimate to $4.7 billion.
- The Liberals pledged $20.3 billion in new spending over three years in their last budget. If re-elected, they are expected to run deficits of $6.7 billion, $6.6 billion and $6.5 billion over the next three budgets, with an expected surplus of $5.6 billion by fiscal year 2021-22. (The auditor general, however, said the Liberals have underestimated the deficit by billions as a result of their accounting methods.)
- The Green Party platform includes $5.88 billion in new spending in the first year, with significant increases in later years, and deficits ranging between $4.33 billion and $2.4 billion.
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