Wynne lays out billions in spending plans

By Shawn Jeffords, Toronto Sun

Premier Kathleen Wynne. (QMI AGENCY PHOTO)

Premier Kathleen Wynne. (QMI AGENCY PHOTO)

Kathleen Wynne may have laid out most of her spending plans in the failed 2014 budget in early May, but she saved a few billion in surprises for Sunday’s Liberal platform launch.

The Liberal leader pledged to balance the provincial budget by 2017-18 while still spending $2.5 billion on a 10-year Jobs and Prosperity Fund, $130 billion on a 10-year infrastructure plan and increasing health spending by 4.2% over the next two fiscal years.

She said her plans have been budgeted within the 2014 budget — even the new commitments that were dropped Sunday.

“We said that we were going to be taking the plan that was in that budget to the people of the province,” Wynne said. “That is what we’re doing.”

Speaking from a hotel in Thunder Bay, she said that on June 12 voters will make a critical choice about Ontario’s economic future.

“It’s a choice between our plan for jobs and growth and Tim Hudak’s cuts,” she said.

Wynne pledged a “modest” income tax increase on those who are the 2% highest earners in the province. She also said the government will continue to look for savings and efficiencies in Crown agencies.

As part of her Jobs and Prosperity Fund, Wynne promised $10 million to launch Experience Ontario. The nine-month paid community work program would help students bridge the gap between high school and the workforce or further education.

She also pledged $5 million in grants for small-scale manufacturing over two years.

Wynne said the Liberals will provide a “Primary Care Guarantee,” meaning every Ontarian will have access to a primary care provider.

The platform also promises to cap hospital parking fees for those who visit the facilities most to support loved ones or for medical conditions.

Wynne promised $15 million over two years to create a Disabilities Employment Strategy, aimed at helping the disabled “maximize” their employment potential.

But PC MPP Vic Fedeli said the Liberal Plan can’t be believed.

“Kathleen Wynne is being fundamentally dishonest about the true state of Ontario’s finances,” he said. “She’s going to claim that they’re on-track to balance the budget by 2017-18, but we know that that is just absolutely not true.”

NDP MPP John Vanthof said the Liberal platform amounts to one big “re-announcement.”

“This is a desperate attempt by the Liberal government to throw around bigger promises in hope of getting people to vote for them,” he said.

The Liberal Plan:

  • Recommitted to 30% tuition grant for post-secondary students
  • Introduction of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan
  • Balanced budget by 2017-18
  • Commit $1 billion to Ring of Fire development, not contingent on matching federal dollars
  • Health spending increases of 2.6% in 2014-15 and 1.8% in 2015-16
  • Expanding scope of practice for nurses and pharmacists
  • Funding for 20 more hospices and development of an end-of-life strategy
  • A cap on hospital parking fees
  • Reduce wait times on referrals to specialists
  • $29 billion for expansion of GO Transit service to Brantford, Niagara and other regions outside GTA

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