Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty wants the New Democrats to bring their budget proposals forward in unison, preferably to the government directly and not through the media.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced yesterday that her party wants the government to increase income tax on the very wealthy, a move that could generate $570 million annually for the cash-strapped province.
During the morning question period at Queen’s Park, McGuinty wasn’t saying yes or no to an NDP pitch for Ontario’s highest-earning residents — those with an income of more than $500,000 — to pay more taxes.
But the premier did tell the legislature the income gap in Canada is not as extreme as it is in the United States, where President Barack Obama also wants a higher tax on the richest of the rich.
McGuinty also said that he’d like to hear about the NDP’s proposals together, so they can be considered as a whole.
"We welcome proposals, our preference is that we receive a proposal in its entirety, rather than a series of demands," McGuinty said.
"It is important that we measure the fiscal consequence of a package in its entirety…we’re very concerned about any new costs."
The premier’s message was echoed on Twitter by Ted McMeekin, the provincial minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs.
"NDP — please STOP the game playing! Come clean on ALL Provincial Budget requests and outline entire proposed spending spree," McMeekin tweeted on Wednesday morning.
The NDP estimates that raising the tax rates for these high-earning Ontarians could help protect 4,000 child-care spaces and eliminate the HST from home-heating bills.
When announcing the pitch for higher taxes for the province’s top earners, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said that her party would be bringing forward more proposals in the days ahead.
On Wednesday, McGuinty said Horwath should bring her party’s proposals directly to the Liberals, though the NDP leader said it was important for the public to be aware of them.
Top earners can pay more, Horwath says
Inside the legislature, Horwath pressed the premier to take up the proposal.
"The premier has made some comments about wanting to avoid any new taxes," Horwath said.
"But more and more people are saying that those who make a lot more can actually pay a little more, especially in tough times," said Horwath.
Progressive Conservative finance critic Peter Shurman said the province cannot afford new spending programs.
"We've got the NDP saying 'get some more revenue and you can spend it on these things,'" he said Wednesday.
"We don't have a revenue problem here. We have a spending problem."
The Liberals need support for their budget if it is to pass in the legislature, however the Tories have vowed to vote against it.
At the moment, the Liberals hold 53 seats in the legislature, while the Tories hold 37 and the New Democrats the remaining 17.