The New Democratic Party would force oil companies to pay higher taxes to pay for broadened social services, a platform released Tuesday says.
"Our platform is realistic, practical and committed to making life better for the ordinary families of Newfoundland and Labrador," NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said in St. John's.
The platform was released the same day that a public opinion poll showed the NDP trending upward in popularity.
Included in the platform are five pledges Michael said would be delivered in the first year of an NDP government.
The first pledge is titled "meeting the health needs of people" and starts out by saying "it's time for a health care system that works for everybody."
Within the first 365 days of the election, the NDP would bring in such health policies as an independent review of the health system, a homecare and long-term care program and an expansion of the NL Prescription Drug Program.
The second pledge, titled "making life more affordable now," focuses on making life's necessities more affordable. For instance, drivers' licence fees would be cut by by one third, needs-based grants for post secondary education would be phased in, and the gas tax would be eliminated.
In its third pledge, the party is promising more support for the province's seniors. An NDP government would increase homecare budgets, give seniors an annual $250 subsidy to help with snow clearing and restore funds to the province's seniors' resource centre.
The party's fourth pledge is titled "giving our children an early start." In the first year after the election, the NDP would begin full-day Kindergarten, create an early child-care program and would also give early childhood educators an annual wage increase.
The fifth pledge in the NDP platform is titled "getting a fair deal for working people," and its policies include developing whistleblower legislation, pressuring Ottawa for an independent offshore safety board and adopting the Voisey's Bay Industrial Inquiry Commission.
In total, New Democrats are promising $142 million in new spending — $74 million from what it called "efficiencies" and $68 million from a petroleum royalty surtax of three per cent. [Read the text of the NDP platform here.] The party's social spending will focus on improving the day-to-day lives for people of the province, according to platform documents.
Of the spending in the first year, the two most expensive polices are included in the second pledge that is aimed at making life more affordable. The NDP promise to eliminate the gas tax is estimated to cost $35 million, while increasing the basic income tax exemption from $8,000 to $9,000 is projected to cost roughly $22 million.
Although the party intends to phase-in its needs based grants policy with a first year contribution of $4.7 million, the total cost of implementation is estimated at $18.9 million.
Michael insists her party would maintain a balanced budget.