Ontario's minority Liberals are agreeing to two NDP demands in the hopes of surviving a crucial budget vote next week that could plunge the province into an election.
Premier Dalton McGuinty said he'll increase support for child care and the Ontario Disability Support Program — but won't hike taxes to pay for them.
"These steps can be taken within the government's fiscal plan and by finding savings in less important programs," he said in a statement released late Friday.
The government is promising to provide assistance to child care operators, amounting to $242 million over three years that will come from the existing education budget.
McGuinty said he'll also increase the Ontario Disability Support Program by one per cent this fall, which will cost $33 million. The money will come from an estimated $55 million that is expected to be generated by lowering the cost of the top 10 generic drugs.
McGuinty, Horwath to meet Monday
The concessions come a day after the NDP took one of their key demands off the table: removing the provincial portion of the HST from home heating bills.
"Over the weekend, we'll continue to analyze how else we may be able to work together to make the budget stronger," McGuinty said. "I've asked Ms. Horwath to meet on Monday and have requested that she come prepared, on behalf of her party and caucus, to reach an agreement."
The Progressive Conservatives have already vowed to vote against the budget on Tuesday, so McGuinty needs NDP support for his government to survive.
The NDP could buy more time by abstaining from the vote and make their final decision on the government's fate when another confidence vote on the budget legislation is called.