Here’s our daily look at what’s making news in the lead-up to the next provincial election.
- Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford made another bold prediction Wednesday in an interview with the Toronto Star: “We are going to win nine to 10 seats in Toronto.” The PCs have not won a Toronto seat in a general election since 1999, but Ford’s large following in the 416 (plus recent polls) has the party feeling bullish. Ford also told the Star that, if elected, he would reduce hospital wait times, cut hydro rates, and reduce the size of government by $6 billion — all without public sector job losses. “Let me be clear: No one is getting laid off,” he said.
- Ford’s promises of painless cuts to government might just have gotten a lot harder to fulfill: According to the Financial Accountability Office, Ontario’s health system will deteriorate unless the government pumps in billions more than already planned. The FAO says that even the extra $6.9 billion for health care over three years announced in last year’s provincial budget is not enough to keep up with pressures and commitments. Health and Long-Term Care Minister Helena Jaczek says that is a key reason the provincial budget to be released on March 28 will run a deficit.
- Premier Kathleen Wynne is calling Doug Ford’s inclination to let the private sector manage Ontario’s recreational marijuana market “reckless.” “I think that a lot of parents would have concerns about cannabis being available beside candy bars in corner stores,” she said Wednesday. The Liberals plan to open 40 government-operated stores this summer, and 150 by 2020.
- The Liberals and the NDP are promising to increase the minimum wage to $15 next year. Ford says he will keep the minimum wage at $14 and eliminate the provincial income tax for anyone making less than $30,000. Which is the better deal for low-income earners? According to economist Sheila Block, the wage increase, not the tax cut, would leave people better off.
- The provincial and federal governments have announced a combined $9 billion for Toronto transit projects over the next decade. The money is part of $11.8 billion in federal money committed to public transit, green infrastructure, and community projects over the next 10 years in Ontario. Of that money, nearly $8.4 billion will go toward public transit. Toronto’s share of that transit money is $4.89 billion, and Queen’s Park says they’ll kick in another $4.04 billion for transit in the city.
- Based on recent surveys, polling expert Éric Grenier projects that if an election were held tomorrow, the Progressive Conservatives would have a 98 per cent chance of winning. According to his analysis, the Tories would win 44.8 per cent of the vote and pick up between 78 and 98 seats; the Liberals would get 25.1 per cent of the vote and win between 3 and 25 seats; the NDP would win 24.1 per cent of the vote and get 15 to 28 seats. Before anyone on either end of the partisan divide gets too excited or too depressed, though, a reminder: One day before the 2016 presidential election, one polling outfit predicted Hillary Clinton had a 96 per cent chance of winning.
- A poll released today shows the PCs with a strong lead, but it also shows that there has been some movement toward the Liberals. Conducted by Ipsos for Global News, the survey shows the Tories at 39 per cent (up one percentage point since February), the Liberals at 32 per cent (up three), the NDP at 25 per cent (down one), and the Green Party at 3 per cent (down four). The survey also shows that 52 per cent of non-Progressive Conservative voters who were thinking of voting for the party say they won’t now that Ford is leader. “In short, [Ford’s] presence motivates his Tory base, while further alienating his detractors,” Ipsos said in a statement.
What to watch for
- How will Toronto Mayor John Tory approach the coming campaign? Which party would he like to see win? Steve Paikin thinks Tory’s calculus on these questions might be complicated.
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