PRESSED SPOTLIGHT: 2018 ONTARIO PROVINCIAL ELECTION

Pressed Spotlight:

2018 ONTARIO PROVINCIAL ELECTION

Published May 26, 2018

~10 minute read

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The Ontario Provincial Election is taking centre stage on June 7th. If the idea of an election scares you, we’re here to help.

Let’s start with who’s running from Ontario’s three main parties:

Kathleen Wynne, Leader of the Liberal Party (Current Premier of Ontario)

Doug Ford, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party

Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP)

We gathered info about some of the top issues you care about and explained where each party stands. Keep reading.

Free the weed: Marijuana legalization

Why you should care: Whether it’s a good idea to allow Ontarians (and the rest of Canada) to get lit legally is still a hotly debated topic. Some argue it’s just another thing to worry about – we have enough distracted drivers, do we need to also worry about people driving high? Others see it as a relatively harmless recreational substance, like alcohol, which has a punishment for possession that doesn’t fit the crime. True, if legalized, it adds money to the governments pockets to spend on services that serve you, but how to regulate the substance and ensure people enjoy it responsibly is still TBD.

Liberals say: They want control over how weed is distributed and sold. They’re game but have set a lot of parameters. 1) Only people 19+ can toke up; 2) Cut out your dealer ‘cause you’re only allowed to buy the green from government-run or sanctioned retailers; 3) Want to grow your own? Cool, but you can only keep a max of four plants; and 4) You can only light up in private spaces, but your landlord has a say, too.

Conservatives say: They aren’t really interested in getting their hands dirty with this one. They don’t think the government should be involved and want to hand over distribution and sales to private companies.

NDP says: They voted in favour of marijuana legalization along with the Liberals, but leader Andrea Horwath is skeptical about whether opening so many government dispensaries will make a dent in the illegal marijuana market. She’s also going to take a look at making sure government pot growers don’t take over farmlands.

Work it: Minimum wage +/-

Why you should care: The minimum wage hike from $11.60 to $14 at the beginning of this year (and up to $15 next year) was great news. Well… depending who you asked. For the average worker (especially those in the food and service industries), it was one step closer to actually affording the cost of living – which IS the point of minimum wage, isn’t it? But the increase got a backlash from some businesses. Forced to pay their workers more, they looked to cut costs in other ways – cutting workers, hiking up prices, and reducing benefits. With the projected plan to tack on another dollar to make minimum wage $15 next year, more job and benefit cuts and a jump in prices aren’t good for anyone.

Liberals say: Let’s do this. It was a part of their plan to introduce the increases to begin with and, if elected, the push to $15 will take effect in 2019.

Conservatives say: Not into this. The Conservatives will scrap the plan to raise the minimum wage from $14 to $15 next year. Instead, they’ll offer workers making minimum wage a tax credit – anyone making less than $28k a year will not pay provincial income taxes at all.

NDP says: Bump it up. Like the Liberals, the NDP is in full support of a living wage and the minimum wage increase to $15.

Door to door: The housing crisis

Why you should care: Bit of a no-brainer, but obvs we all need somewhere to live. And with Ontario’s most heavily populated city in the midst of a legit housing crisis (looking at you Toronto and the GTA), there’s just not enough to go around and it’s way expensive. Whether you’re a millennial trying to do adulting right, or a soon-to-be retiree with a 30-year-old you want out of the house, the housing crisis is a huge obstacle.

Liberals say: They tried to cool the red hot housing market last year by introducing new measures like a 15% foreign buyers tax, rent control rules, and a $125-million, five-year program to build new rental apartment buildings. If re-elected, you can expect these policies to stay in effect.

Conservatives say: Decrease housing costs by increasing supply. In order to do that, the Conservatives want to build homes on the Greenbelt, 2 million acres of protected land in Ontario. They’ve promised to replace any used land with land somewhere else, but TBD on where and how. The Conservatives also want to get rid of the 15% foreign buyers tax that was put in place last year by the Liberals.

NDP says: Let’s start building. The NDP plans to build 65,000 new affordable homes and take aim at price speculators and house flippers who are driving up housing costs. They also want to get into talks with the Feds to create a National Housing Strategy to address the issue of supply and demand, as well as fund a third of the costs to repair crumbling social housing units.

Riding with my woes: Transit & infrastructure

Why you should care: People to see, places to go, and things to do. That’s life. But showing up or missing out can depend on traffic-ridden roads or sub-par public transportation. Congestion and moving people through densely populated areas in the city and ‘burbs make having efficient (and affordable) transportation and infrastructure a key election issue.

Liberals say: As the Liberals revealed in their 2018 budget, if re-elected, they plan to pump $11 billion into a plan to start work on a high-speed rail line from Toronto to Windsor. They also want to make GO Transit and UP Express trips within Toronto only $3 for Presto users. The same goes for any GO Transit trips under 10 kilometres across the entire GTHA (the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area).

Conservatives say: Here’s $5 billion for the subway and a two-way all day GO line to Niagara Falls. Also, if the majority of Hamilton wants an LRT, the Conservatives will give the city $1 billion to build it. If the city doesn’t want the LRT, the money will still be given to Hamilton to use for infrastructure.

NDP says: Split the bill, please. The NDP wants to split transit costs with the province’s municipalities 50/50. They plan on investing over $800 million in transit in the province each year, with $330 million going to Toronto alone. Speaking of Toronto, if elected, the NDP says they’ll build the Downtown Relief Line ASAP as well as Hamilton’s LRT. As for GO Transit, the party plans to provide two-way all-day GO rail service between Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto, and year-round GO rail service between Niagara and Toronto.

More money, more problems: Taxes, insurance & hydro hikes

Why you should care: Death and taxes – the only two guarantees in life, as the saying goes. But might as well add hydro and insurance costs. Any time you’re forced to dish out extra dollars, you feel it, and in the upcoming Ontario election, the province’s political parties want you to know how they’re going to try to help you keep more money in your pocket.

Liberals say: They’ve promised to end the practice of hiking auto insurance premiums for certain postal codes. Regarding hydro, the party has already cut rates by 25% and sold off 60% of Hydro One for extra dough. The 2018 Liberal budget put aside money to provide fully government-funded childcare for pre-schoolers. But taxes is where it’s going to hurt for some. The party plans to hike personal income taxes for people making more than $71.5k per year. But if you make less, you’ll see some savings.

Conservatives say: They want to put money back into your pockets by cutting taxes. Tax credits will cover thousands of dollars for childcare costs and lower-income families will get 75% of childcare costs back. The Conservatives have promised to cut middle-class (between $42-$85k/year) income taxes by 20%, to bring down the cost of gas, and to cut your hydro bill by 12%.

NDP says: They want high earners and corporations to pay what they call is their “fair share.” If you make more than $220k a year, expect your taxes to jump by 1%. Make more than $300k? A 2% hike in taxes is what you’ll see. Low-income earners (less than $40k) will benefit from free childcare and everyone else will pay about $12/day. And this is not limited to pre-schoolers. For hydro, their motto is “pay less, own more,” by cutting your bill by 30% and returning Hydro One to public ownership. And for you drivers, expect the NDP to try to lower your premium by 15% and end postal code discrimination.

How do I vote?

Good question. Remember that when you go to the polls on June 7th, you’re not looking for the name of the party leader (i.e. Kathleen Wynne) on your ballot. Instead, you’re voting for an MPP (Member of the Provincial Parliament) for your district/riding. In Ontario, there are 124 seats up for grabs. The party that wins the most seats will become the governing party of Ontario, and its leader will become the Premier. Here’s a cheat sheet on how the Canadian Government works.

Enter your postal code here to find out where to vote in your location. Then hit “Candidates in My Electoral District” to see who’s representing your area if you’re not already familiar with your candidates.

If you register to vote before May 29th, you’ll get a Voter Information Card (VIC) in the mail. Bring that with you on election day. If you don’t get a VIC, you can still vote, just make sure you bring a piece of ID with your name and address.

Easy, right? See you at the polls!

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