PCs win Ontario election — here’s a look at the promises Doug Ford made
This is the first time the PCs will form government in Ontario since 2003, with leader Doug Ford expected to be sworn in as premier in the coming weeks.
Here’s a look back at the PCs’ pledges that helped them gain support — and the toughest promises they’ll now be expected to keep.
‘A plan for Ontario’
The PCs released a long list of promises before the election called “A plan for Ontario,” but didn’t include a detailed fiscal plan or a path to eliminate the deficit.
That raised eyebrows, as Ford campaigned repeatedly promising: “We’re the only party that’s fiscally responsible. We’re the only party that is accurate.”
The plan included a wide variety of promises, from a pledge to reduce hydro bills by 12 per cent to reducing income tax and reforming education. A more detailed look at his promises can be found here.
Kathy Brock, a professor at Queen’s University’s School of Policy Studies, explained that while the PCs have made a long list of promises, they won’t know exactly how to carry them out until they get a detailed look at the province’s financial situation.
“The big challenge for the Conservatives is until they get into office, they don’t know what the books actually looks like,” Brock explained.
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Balancing the budget and finding efficiencies
While Ford has said he will run a deficit in the first year, he has promised to eventually balance the budget — except a plan hasn’t been made public.
Zack Taylor, an assistant professor of political science at Western University, explained that the PCs plan to cut taxes, spend more and eventually balance the budget.
“It’s hard to figure out how those jibe,” Taylor said.
“What I would imagine is if they do lead on the tax cuts, and they just don’t have the money to spend, and they don’t want to run bigger deficits, then those very expensive spending commitments aren’t going to happen.”
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Ford has suggested he will find and cut $6 billion in government “inefficiencies,” without laying anyone off.
Taylor recalled that the Ford brothers attempted to do this at Toronto City Hall, but it didn’t go that well.
“They brought an outside consulting firm to look for those efficiencies and ultimately the consulting firm said that things were relatively efficiently running,” Taylor said.
He added that things might be different on a larger scale in the provincial government — but it seems unlikely.
“This idea that you can wave your magic wand and bring in a consulting firm and go through the books and find inefficiencies might turn out to be a little more difficult than you think.”
Brock suggested the PCs will likely recover some money, but not the amount promised. She added that the PC Party may be able to cut some unfilled positions, and benefit from losing workers naturally through retirement.
One outlook on the PC deficit paints a bleak picture.
According to one projection by Mike Moffatt, an economist with Western University Ivey Business School, the PCs will be running deficits of $6.9 billion in the third year and $7.6 billion in the fourth year.
Education changes may take a while
Education reform is a “high priority” for the Conservatives and something they want to do fast. That might be unrealistic, Brock said.
She explained that it could happen within their mandate, but it will be a lengthy process with consultations from parents, schools and teachers.
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And all stakeholders are unlikely to agree quickly, with the reform including contentious topics such as the sex-ed curriculum and axing discovery math.
Once there is some sort of agreement, they have to create a curriculum that fits with national and international criteria.
“It takes a bit of time to have really good policy,” Brock said.
On the other hand, Taylor explained that this promise is less expensive than other ones the PCs have made.
“The thing about things like curriculum changes is that those aren’t embedded in the legislation, they don’t need to face the legislature and pass a law,” Taylor added.
Then there is the monster challenge of lowering hydro costs — something Ford has heavily criticized Premier Kathleen Wynne over.
Ford’s promise in his area includes reducing hydro bills by 12 per cent, firing executives “getting rich off of your bills,” and cancelling or renegotiating pre-construction energy contracts.
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Taylor explained that tackling the province’s hydro problem would have been difficult for any party, but Ford’s plan isn’t very detailed.
“If you want to reduce the per unit cost that people pay for electricity when it comes to their homes and business, that’s a subsidy, you need to pay for that in another way,” Taylor said.
He said that money would come from the budget, which is funded by largely personal and corporate income tax.
“The taxpayer is going to pay no matter what — either they pay now or they pay later.”
That means it may ease “short-term burdens” but not provide a solution, Taylor said.
Many of Ford’s promises are ambitious, so a major challenge will be managing expectations of voters, Brock explained.
That means setting clear priorities once forming government.
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“To think that they’re going to hit the ground and reform hydro, increase jobs, introduce new dental care plans, find the inefficiencies in government right away, that would be unrealistic,” she said.
— With a file from Global News reporter Andrew Russell
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