Here’s our daily look at what’s making news in the lead-up to the next provincial election.
Update: 1:15 p.m.
- The Liberal government’s new throne speech is out, promising more money for home care, child care and health care – including an expansion of the OHIP+ drug coverage plan covering people under 25 “to include other parts of the population.” And, perhaps in response to the NDP’s plan to create a public dental coverage plan, the speech said that “more people without a drug or dental benefits plan will have access to more affordable prescription drugs and dental care.”
- The NDP has added details to the dental coverage plan it announced Saturday. The program would cost $1.2 billion a year and has two components: coverage for all workers in the province, whether full-time, part-time, independent, contract or freelance that would cost an estimated $575 million; and $670 million to extend publicly funded dental plans to make sure every senior has coverage.
- NDP leader Andrea Horwath on Saturday unveiled five election priorities that will form the core of her party’s platform in the coming campaign. The most eye-catching aspect of Horwath’s speech was a promise that every working Ontarian would have access to free dental care. Horwath also promised a pharmacare program that provides 125 of the most commonly prescribed drugs free to everyone in the province. (The current government’s OHIP+ program provides coverage for more than 4,400 drugs, but only for people under the age of 25). Other priorities included turning government student loans into grants that don’t need to be repaid, returning Hydro One to full public ownership, and raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Horwath said the party’s full platform will be released in the coming weeks.
- Another poll shows the Progressive Conservatives with a comfortable lead among voters. In a survey of 1,637 voters, conducted between March 12 and 14 by Campaign Research, 43 per cent said they would vote PC. The Liberals came in second at 27 per cent, the NDP third at 23 per cent, and the Green Party fourth at 5 per cent. Only 11 per cent of respondents said they were completely undecided.
- Jim Stanford, an economist at McMaster University, estimates that PC Leader Doug Ford would have to cut spending by nearly $25 billion over three years to keep his campaign promises. Ford has said he will find “efficiencies” and that no public sector jobs will be lost. Stanford says it’s highly unlikely that enough efficiencies will materialize to avoid significant cuts.
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What to watch for
- The NDP is following up Saturday’s unveiling of five key election priorities with a technical briefing for reporters at 9 a.m. There will be a media availability with leader Andrea Horwath at 9:30 a.m.
- At noon, Lt.-Gov Elizabeth Dowdeswell reads the Liberal government’s new throne speech. The speech is an opportunity for Premier Kathleen Wynne to signal what case she will try to make to Ontario voters during the upcoming campaign.
- At 7 p.m., PC party leader Doug Ford will hold a “Unity Rally” in Etobicoke. The event will feature other candidates from the leadership race Ford won, sitting Tory MPPs, and nominated candidates. Leadership runner-up Christine Elliott will introduce Ford at the rally.
- Wynne will follow up Monday’s throne speech with what the Toronto Star’s Robert Benzie describes as “a campaign-style ‘major policy announcement’ aimed at those ‘60 and over’ Tuesday at the Leaside Curling Club” in Toronto.
- If you have questions about voting, registering to vote, or the process in the upcoming Ontario election, Greg Essensa, the province’s chief electoral officer, will be holding a Q&A on Twitter on Tuesday between 3 p.m. and 3:40 p.m. Submit your questions using the hashtag #askCEOGreg.