Doug Ford’s latest Ontario budget arrives today — days before the election begins

Premier Doug Ford’s government is expected to release this year’s Ontario budget on Thursday afternoon, but it’s not a typical budget.

Ontarians should instead take the document as a numbered campaign platform from Ford’s Progressive Conservatives, something the party did not produce before winning a majority government in the 2018 election.

The Ford government will almost certainly not adopt this fiscal plan for the province. There simply isn’t enough time for him to go through the process until next Wednesday, when the legislature is dissolved and the election campaign officially begins.

If the Conservatives are re-elected on June 2, they can bring this budget back to the Legislative Assembly and then pass it.

A senior government official told CBC News the budget would “double down on construction” and largely consist of items that have been announced by Ford and his ministers in recent weeks.

The government has made billions of dollars in hospital and long-term care building announcements since early March, along with its previously announced plans to build new transit lines and highways.

Publicly, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy – whose name appears on rebate checks mailed to Ontario drivers after the government scrapped license renewal fees – previously called the plan a vision for a “better and brighter future.” “.

  • CBC News will have full coverage on all platforms around 4 p.m. ET

Even though the wallet goodies have been announced, there are good reasons to be careful when releasing the budget. Here are a few:

  • The budget will provide a good overview of the state of Ontario’s economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The document will show how much the government plans to spend on key areas like health care, education, transportation and more.
  • We’ll get an idea of ​​how the Ford government intends to pay for the billions of dollars in pre-election spending it’s announced in recent months – and the government may go further as affordability becomes an issue major for more people in a context of record inflation.

Opposition parties, meanwhile, will seek to find loopholes in the budget.

Andrea Horwath’s NPD, which unveiled its platform on Monday this week, will offer the clearest comparison at this point.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath unveiled her party’s platform in downtown Toronto on Monday. The NDP says it will provide cost estimates for this platform as soon as it can review Thursday’s provincial budget. (Alex Lupul/CBC)

The NDP’s platform includes big promises like universal pharmacare and coverage for mental health supports under the provincial OHIP plan. It also includes cash incentives for people who buy electric vehicles and a commitment to increase Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program rates by 20%.

The price to pay ? To be determined after PCs table that budget, Horwath promised, saying she needs to know the current state of Ontario’s finances before her team can provide cost estimates.

Horwath said earlier this week that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how the government is failing Ontarians, leaving them struggling with the cost of living.

“For far too long government just hasn’t worked for people, and COVID has really exposed that,” she told supporters and candidates. “We can fix what matters most to people.”

Steven Del Duca’s Liberals, meanwhile, don’t offer details on when their full platform will be released, other than to say it will be soon.

The Liberals have made their own big pledges, most recently pledging to increase base funding for home care by $2 billion by 2026 and build 15,000 more assisted living facilities (the Ford government also said this week that it would spend an additional $1 billion on home care over the next three years).

Similarly, Mike Schreiner’s Green Party has tabled several campaign promises, including a climate action plan that includes a number of financial incentives to help Ontarians reduce their carbon footprint, but has yet to deliver. encrypted platform.