Loading articles...

Ontario NDP platform to include pharmacare, dental benefits for all workers

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announces her party's platform for the provincial election, in Toronto on March 17, 2018. HANDOUT/Ontario NDP

Ontario’s New Democrat leader unveiled parts of her platform at a campaign event on Saturday, saying the party would deprivatize Hydro One and offer universal pharma and dental care for all Ontarians if elected.

Andrea Horwath said the party would also focus on lowering wait times health-care services, raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Ontarians and convert student loans to grants.

The five policy points were part of a preview of the party’s full campaign platform, which Horwath said would be delivered in the coming weeks.

“We are going to run the biggest campaign the NDP has ever run in Ontario,” Horwath told supporters at the Toronto event. “It will show everyone why we are running, and why we are running to win.”

Horwath said the party would also hold the federal government accountable for Indigenous rights issues, pointing to the lack of clean drinking water in some Ontario First Nations communities.

The NDP plan, which also promised increased support for transit and affordable housing, starkly contrasts plans outlined by newly elected PC leader Doug Ford, who promised $6 billion cuts to public spending.

“(Ford) says he’ll ‘leave no stone unturned’ in his hunt to privatize what belongs to the people of Ontario,” said Horwath. “Cutting jobs and services, selling off our public assets, that’s not change.”

When asked by reporters after her speech, Horwath wouldn’t say whether her plan would run a deeper deficit than the Liberal party’s current budget.

Instead, Horwath criticized Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberal party, saying voters are sick of broken promises and are ready for change after 15 years of their government.

Wynne released a statement after Horwath’s speech, saying the she welcomed “many of the ideas brought forward by the NDP.”

“On Monday, in the Speech from the Throne, our government will outline our plan to invest in mental health, health care, home care and child care. It will also detail investments in areas that make life more affordable,” Wynne said.

“Our approach is a sharp contrast with what Doug Ford and the Conservatives are proposing with billions in cuts to health care and education to fund their platform.”

“A PC government will lower hydro rates, scrap Kathleen Wynne and Justin Trudeau’s expensive carbon tax, end hallway health care, ensure students are ready for the workforce, and bring good-paying jobs back to our province and accountability back to Queen’s Park,” said Ford in an emailed statement.

“It’s time for a change in Ontario. It’s time to respect the taxpayer again.”

A recent online poll conducted by Leger suggests that Horwath is narrowly more popular than Wynne, with 15 per cent believing Horwath is the best candidate to lead Ontario. 13 per cent of respondents preferred Kathleen Wynne, but Doug Ford was most popular with 24 per cent believing the populist politician was Ontario’s best option.

Ontario’s provincial election is set for June 7.