May 30, 2011 – Today, the Ontario PCP released its $7.2 billion election platform, called Change Book, which focuses on reducing energy costs, lowering a number of taxes, and maintaining investments in healthcare and education. The plan foresees the $16.7 billion budget deficit being wiped out by 2017-18, the same year as the Liberals have forecast. Older voters and multigenerational families, however, were targeted with a number of policies proposals.
Caregiver Tax Credit
The PCs are promising to double the current Caregiver Tax Credit for those who care for an elderly or critically ill family member. Like the Federal government’s proposal, however, the tax credit is non-refundable, which means it can reduce the amount of federal or provincial tax you owe, but is not a cash benefit. Currently, the maximum amount an individual can claim is $4,216, which in turn can save a maximum of $212 in taxes per year. If the amount were doubled, qualified caregivers could save up to $420 per year in taxes.
Change Book also takes wholesale aim at energy prices, which have been a particular concern for many living on fixed and lower incomes. The PCs are hoping that promises to remove the provincial portion of the HST from home hydro bills and from the cost of home heating will win over a growing contingent of Ontarians concerned with energy prices. Additionally, they’ve also proposed to remove the debt retirement charge from home hydro bills and “unplug” the unpopular smart meters. The PCs promise to “eliminate the expensive energy bureaucracy” and establish a consumer advocate at the Ontario Energy Board, an attempt to institute public accountability where there seems to be little now.
Last week, in advance of Change Book, the PCs announced that they would increase health spending by $6 billion by the end of the next political term. Since the $6 billion is approximately the same amount the governing Liberals have projected to spend, the real differences between the two parties will likely come in funding allocation decisions. The PCs are hoping that a promise to fund an additional 5,000 long-term care beds will win over older voters. This is on top of the 35,000 renovated beds that are already planned to come into the system over the next ten years. Additionally, Change Book promises increased funding to home care, but doesn’t detail where or how funding will be allocated.
The PC Plan
With Change Book, the Ontario PCs are hoping to win over voters with a strong line on government accountability and cost reduction for middle-income families. In addition to targeting the energy bureaucracy, they promise to cut the Ontario public service and hold hospital administrators responsible for performance standards. The PCs appear to be gambling, however, that increased accountability and efficiency will make up for the considerable lost revenue which result from their proposals for income splitting, lower income tax levels, provincial HST elimination from energy, and lower corporate tax rates. Laying out the plan is only the first step, now the Ontario PCs have to convince Ontario voters that change would be in their best interest.
To read the full platform, click here