We’re a day shy of the big election, and as expected, it’s gone beyond party politics. The cult of personality is playing a big role in this one, whichever side you’re on. But there is a lot at stake — 124 MPP seats — and it’s your last chance to do your research before you go to the polls — and you are going to the polls, right?
Provincial voter turnout wasn’t good in 2014, at just over 50%. Keep in mind that we’re pretending what they’ve said will continue to have meaning after the election, and that in itself is a gamble.
The housing shortage, quality of city infrastructure and childcare are high priorities for many in the GTA, so here are a few items to get your research started.
The PC party’s People’s Guarantee has promised $5 billion in subways for the GTA; they have been much quieter on where the money will come from. The Yonge Relief Line, extension to Richmond Hill and extension of the Sheppard Line are mentioned specifically.
They have also said they will fulfill existing commitments to all-day, two-way GO service and to complete projects already underway, such as LRT in Hamilton, K-W and Ottawa, although Ford has historically not been a fan and has in the past confused LRT service with streetcars.
The party has not said whether they will go along with municipal decisions on LRT. Ford has said publicly that he doesn’t like rent controls, preferring that the “market dictate.” The PCs have promised to increase land supply starting with reviewing the province’s holdings, and have been critical of the Liberals’ restricted growth plan.
The Tories said in April that they would provide parents up to 75% of childcare costs back, up to $6,750 per child through a rebate program. They promised tax breaks for babysitters, nannies, licensed operators and independent daycare providers.
The Liberals just opened the York Spadina extension instigated by McGuity’s government, and have said that selling assets like Hydro One will give them the money to pursue further infrastructure; Wynne has shot down the notion of “congestion pricing” to pay for infrastructure, in spite of its potential.
Congestion pricing is an unpopular notion in the 905. It has the potential to reduce congestion (ergo, driving times) and pollution, make the downtown better for pedestrians and cyclists, and make drivers pay for driving, as it raises significant revenue for the municipality. It’s also expensive to administer, ripe for evasion, smacks of inequality since it targets equally regardless of income, and has potential revenue bottom-line consequences for core businesses. A lot may depend on how you feel about user fees and Hydro One.
Starting in 2020, the Liberals’ plan for childcare is a $2.2 billion, three-year scheme to fully cover daycare costs from ages two and a half to four, when children can start all-day kindergarten; the money would go towards both helping with care costs and building more childcare spaces. Criticisms have included that it doesn’t cover those very early, most expensive years.
The NDP says they’ll split public transit funding with the municipalities evenly, which they say will mean more than $800 million annually, with more than $300 going to Toronto alone. They say they will support GO transit, including extending service into Niagara, and commit to extending two-way, all-day services.
The NDP also say they will clamp down on speculation and flipping, and reform condo legislation to protect buyers from bad deals and subpar workmanship. Their daycare plan would cover infants and toddlers first, then preschoolers, and cover licensed, not-for-profit daycare providers. Families who make more than $40,000 a year would pay on a sliding, income-based scale. Costs are estimated at $11.4 billion over five years.
Both the Liberals and the NDP are pro-rent control, it probably goes without saying.
It’s not an easy election, but it’s an important one. Listen to what they’re saying, and ask yourself whether the words you like are coming out of the mouth of someone you can believe. Everyone’s priorities are different. Don’t leave it to others to decide what the province’s will be.
Feature image via Marc Bruxelle / Shutterstock.com