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Ontario NDP plan to run deficits for six years, cancel gas tax cut

Ontario NDP plan to run deficits for six years, cancel gas tax cut

TORONTO — Ontario’s New Democrats are pledging to run larger deficits than the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals if elected and would likely not balance the budget for six years, but the party is eyeing some cost savings from cancelling a gas tax cut.

That pledge is expected to save $600 million in the first year by reversing a move from the Progressive Conservative government to temporarily reduce gas prices and comes as the cost at the pumps has topped $2 per litre.

A 5.7-cent-a-litre cut to the provincial portion of the gas tax is set to take effect July 1 and last for six months.

New sources of revenue in the NDP costing released today include gaining $2.4 billion in the third year from increasing the corporate income tax rate, $1.9 billion the same year from changing capital gains rules and nearly $600 million from increasing taxes on people earning over $220,000. The party would also reallocate billions in contingency funds.

The largest expenditures in the NDP plan include $8.6 billion by the third year to double welfare and disability support payment rates, $1.8 billion in revenue from a proposed cap-and-trade system directed to rural, northern and low-income families, and $940 million in year three to enact universal mental health coverage.

It all adds up to a plan that would see a nearly $21.5-billion deficit the first year – higher than the Progressive Conservative plan of $19.9 billion – followed by a deficit of $18.4 billion in year two and just over $13 billion in the third year.

The costing document doesn’t go beyond a third year, as party officials say projections that far out get “hazy,” but they expect they could balance in 2028-29.

The Liberals say they would run a higher deficit than the PCs plan in year two, but would balance a year sooner than the Tory projection of 2027-28.

The NDP costing comes 20 days after the party released its platform except for the finances, and 17 days after the PC government budget on which the New Democrats said they needed to base their calculations.

The party says their plan would protect middle-class families from tax and fee hikes, ensure the wealthiest people and corporations pay their fair share and make life better for everyone.

New Democrats have proposed a “Green New Democratic Deal,” their environmental plan that they say is a standalone plan, funding promises through revenue from a promise cap-and-trade system.

A projected $4.6 billion by the third year of that system would go toward home energy retrofits, cover half of municipalities’ net transit operating costs and a rebate for electric vehicles, as well as returning a quarter of the money to residents disproportionately impacted by carbon pricing.

 

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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