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Top 5 things to know about the Ontario NDP’s election platform

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The Ontario New Democratic Party unveiled their election platform on Monday, touting it as a plan “that works for people.”

“The last few years have been tough. People are waiting in pain because our health-care system is on its knees. And folks are working harder than ever while the cost of living and the cost of homes makes it impossible to get ahead,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said in a statement.

“But it really doesn’t have to be this way. Ontario is the greatest place in the world to live, and together we can start to fix the things that have been broken — the things that matter most to everyday people.”

The platform is not yet fully costed as the NDP said they are waiting for the 2022 budget to be released first. The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are scheduled to release their budget—which will also be acting as a re-election platform—on Thursday.

At the same time, the NDP has already attached price tags to some of their promises, saying they will "ensure the wealthiest Ontarians and big corporations pay their fair share.”

Here are five things about the platform you should know:

MIDDLE-INCOME TAX FREEZE

The NDP has said that, if elected, it will implement a four-year income tax freeze for low and middle-income households. The freeze will apply to individuals earning less than $200,000 a year; although officials said that bracket wasn’t set in stone.

"I would say a lot of folks around that personal income level consider themselves middle class," Horwath said at a news conference Monday. "The folks around $200,000 are struggling to buy a home these days. Let's face it, you could be earing $150,000 to $200,000 a year and still not be able to keep up with your bills."

The NDP did not say how much this would cost, but did specify that the qualifying income level would be the same across the province.

When asked if income tax would go up for those earning more than $200,000, the NDP said they were looking into it.

RENT CONTROL

An NDP government would ensure that individuals renting apartments are able to pay the same in rent than the tenant before them, essentially eliminating financial incentives for landlords looking to increase fees.

Currently, annual rent increases are slightly regulated in Ontario to align with the Ontario Consumer Price Index; however this does not apply to newer buildings constructed after 2018 or in a scenario in which a unit is vacant.

The party will also introduce an annual speculation and vacancy tax for individuals who own homes they don’t live in. The tax, set at a rate of about two per cent of the assessed value of the home, would be phased in over two years.

“We’ll also close loopholes that allow wealthy investors off the hook,” the NDP said in their platform.

According to the NDP, the building of 100,000 new social housing units would require about $493 million while an additional $100 million would be needed for 60,000 new supportive housing units.

Rent subsidies for 311,000 households would require a $240 million annual investment.

REGULATING PRICES AT THE PUMP

This promise follows through on a bill the NDP has repeatedly introduced in the legislature that would regulate the cost of gas by setting a weekly price or daily maximum.

The last time this legislation was introduced was in March, when drivers were shocked to fill up their tanks at $1.74 per litre. The price of gas has since skyrocketed to more than $1.80 per litre.

The purpose of the bill, Horwath said, would be the “elimination of gouging.”

PC Leader Doug Ford did not support the legislation and instead proposed a bill of his own that would lower the gas tax by 5.7 cents per litre and the fuel tax by about 5.3 cents per litre for a period of six months, starting on July 1.

RECRUITING HEALTH-CARE WORKERS

If elected in June, the NDP would hire 10,000 personal support workers, 30,000 nurses and expedite the credentials of 15,000 internationally trained nurses with the goal of reducing burnout and shorten wait time for patients.

The party also said they will “create new jobs for late-career and recently retired nurses, so they can keep working in a role that’s mentoring and supervising.”

An additional 300 doctors and 100 specialists would be hired specifically for northern Ontario.

No price tag was attached to this promise.

OHIP COVERAGE

Horwath kicked off her election campaign earlier this month with an announcement about universal mental health coverage and the inclusion of birth control prescriptions under OHIP.

Under the plan, OHIP would cover a minimum of six psychotherapy treatments for all Ontarians, rising to 12 sessions for patients who need it. The party will begin this process with an immediate $500 million investment, with the full investment being about $1.15 billion annually.

The party will also cover all oral contraception pills as well as Plan B, intrauterine devices, injections, patches or rings. Birth control is covered for individuals under the age of 25 for those who don’t already have access to a private drug benefit plan.

The platform also mentions that the party will “begin working immediately on universal pharmacare for Ontarians.”

Other NDP promises to note:

  • Create mixed-member proportional voting system
  • Minimum wage increase of $1 a year until it reaches $20 an hour in 2025
  • End health-care user fees, such as doctors' notes
  • End EQAO testing
  • Cap classroom sizes to 24 students in grades four to eight while scrapping plans for two mandatory online courses
  • Elimination of age caps for the provincial autism program
  • Implement a four-day work week pilot project
  • Reduce Ontario's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050
  • Plant one billion trees by 2030 and ban non-medical single-use plastics by 2024.

With files from Siobhan Morris and Canadian Press

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