The Ontario Liberals unveiled their election campaign platform on Monday morning weeks ahead of the provincial election.
The fully-costed platform, titled “A Place to Grow,” would draw money from contingency funds with the aim of balancing the budget by 2026-2027, which would be a year earlier than the Progressive Conservatives.
Some of the key features introduced in the Liberal’s platform include putting an end to for-profit long-term care, introducing a new income tax and rent control, proposing a four-day work week and reopening the province’s child care deal with the federal government.
Ahead of the platform reveal, the Liberals announced their pledge to bring transit down to $1 per ride until 2024, scrap Highway 413 to repair and build new schools with the savings, offer an optional Grade 13 and raise the minimum wage to $16 an hour.
Here’s the top five things you need to know about the Liberal’s platform.
Income & Empty Home Taxes
The Liberals are proposing an income tax on individuals whose taxable incomes amount to more than $500,000 a year. Those who fall into this category would be taxed at a rate of 15.16 per cent – two per cent above the current rate.
The party said they would use this money to remove the eight per cent provincial HST on prepared food under $20 – like meals at restaurants or to-go counters – beginning in September.
Eliminating the tax on prepared foods will also be funded by a one per cent surtax on companies operating in Ontario whose profits exceed $1 billion a year.
To penalize foreign buyers who own homes that sit empty in Ontario, the Liberals announced a tax of five per cent for non-Canadian owners and two per cent for Canadian owners with vacant residential units in urban cities. The revenue accumulated from this tax will be spent on affordable housing.
The Liberals also plan on reinstating rent control across the province and building 1.5 million new homes over the next decade.
Ending For-Profit Long-Term Care
The Liberals are pledging to put an end to for-profit long-term care by 2028. To achieve this, they would stop renewing licenses for for-profit long-term care homes and instead transfer existing homes to non-for-profits.
The party also plans on building 58,000 new non-profit long-term care spaces while ensuring seniors receive at least four hours of direct care every day.
Child Care Renegotiation
The Ontario Liberals are aiming to reopen the province’s $10 a day child-care deal with the federal government, which was signed earlier this year and only allows for renegotiation in the third year.
This would include a retroactive discount of $2,750 per child that dates back to Jan 1. 2022 and $10 a day before and after school programs. However, their child care promises would rely on successful negotiations with the federal government.
Four-Day Work Week
In response to the pandemic-provoked shift in the workplace, the Liberals are proposing a four-day work week. To develop a model, they would work with businesses and labour groups across all sectors.
This would come alongside protecting gig workers by modernizing the definition of what it means to be an employee. This expanded definition would allow creative and contract workers to get better access to benefits and protections, which would include 10 paid sick days.
Pharmacare & Pandemic
When it comes to drug coverage, the Liberals are aiming to work with the federal government to reach a national pharmacare deal. In the meantime, the Liberals are offering to enroll anyone without an employee benefits plan in their portable benefits plan. This would include gig and contract workers.
To address the critical shortage of health-care workers, the Liberals are promising to increase nursing program admissions by 10 per cent and create over 450 new medical school and residency spaces across the province. For students who commit to working long-term in rural communities, full tuition coverage will be available.
To clear the surgical backlog that has mounted throughout the pandemic, the Liberals are promising to invest $1 billion to expand health-care capacity with the goal of returning to pre-pandemic wait times by the end of this year.