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Ontario Liberals pledge to plant 800M trees over 8 years if elected, NDP say they’d plant 1B

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WATCH: Ontario political climate on Earth Day – Apr 22, 2022

The Ontario Liberals say if elected in the upcoming provincial election, the party would plant 800 million new trees over eight years, while the NDP say they’d plant one billion by 2030.

In a press release issued Friday, Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said if elected to power, his government would “make Ontario place to grow again – starting by planting 100 million trees each year for eight years.”

Read more: Provincial election race tightens as Liberals gain ground on PCs: Ipsos poll

“Under our plan, all Ontario families will have access to trees to plant at home,” he said in a statement.

The party said it would give “all municipalities and every family new trees, at no cost, to plant on their properties and in their communities.”

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According to the release, the party estimates the plan would create 2,000 new jobs for recent graduates and summer students.

Del Duca said the province was “once a global leader in climate action,” adding that his party closed coal power plants.

“We have a proud history of removing pollution from our air – and we’ll do it again by planting 800 million new trees,” he said.

Read more: Ontario Liberals pledge action on anti-racism, including more diverse police hiring

The Ontario PC Party, however, is questioning the financial cost of the plan as well as whether the goals stated by the Ontario Liberals are realistic.

A spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford pointed out to Global News that the former Liberal government planted roughly 27 million trees between 2008 and 2018, despite pledging to plant 50 million trees over the course of a decade.

“They couldn’t plant 50 million trees in a decade, now they’re saying they’re going to plant 100 million per year,” the spokesperson told Global News, speaking on background.

The cost of the program is also being questioned by the Ford government, which claims 800 million trees could come with a price tag of $1.2 billion. The government uses the federal government’s 2021 promise to plant two billion trees over a decade at a cost of $3.16 billion as a baseline to project the potential cost of the Liberal promise.

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Global News has asked the Liberal party for the anticipated cost of the program and is awaiting a response.

Ontario NDP say they’d plant 1 billion trees

Also Friday morning, the Ontario NDP released a statement discussing its climate promises, including a pledge to plant one billion trees by 2030.

The party also announced that they would establish a “Youth Climate Corps,” giving young residents “the opportunity to gain knowledge and training to level-up their skills through a paid program that will also count towards post-secondary credit.”

“Participants will work on climate projects to restore and enhance Ontario’s natural landscape, including contributing to the NDP’s commitment to plant one billion trees by 2030 with the goal of reducing Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions through natural carbon sequestration,” the party said.

The party said new investments of $40 billion will be required to fund its climate initiatives including improving transit, retrofits and infrastructure changes, job training and supporting communities “adversely affected by climate change.”

“This is in addition to the existing $31 billion budget,” the document reads.

According to the Ontario NDP, the new investments will “primarily” come from carbon pricing and green bonds.

Read more: Ontario Liberals pledge to fully cover medication to prevent, treat HIV

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The news comes as opposition parties, and the governing Ontario Progressive Conservatives, have begun releasing some details of their vision for Ontario ahead of the provincial election.

On Thursday, for example, the Ontario NDP said if elected, the party would make prescription contraception free under OHIP.

Also on Thursday, the Ontario Green party released details of its plan to “address environmental racism,” which includes cleaning up mercury in Grassy Narrows, closing down the Line 5 Pipeline and increasing access to greenspace.

On Wednesday the Ford government said it is looking into raising compensation for workers injured on the job, but said the proposed change wouldn’t take effect until after the provincial election.

The Ontario budget is also set to be tabled on April 28, just days before the start of the election. Ford has declined to say if he intends to pass this year’s budget or just let it serve as his re-election platform.

– with files from Ryan Rocca, Colin D’Mello, and The Canadian Press

Click to play video: 'Ontario NDP pitching free contraception if victorious in upcoming provincial election'
Ontario NDP pitching free contraception if victorious in upcoming provincial election

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