Premier Kathleen Wynne says it's time for the New Democrats to decide if they will support the budget, but the leader of the third party says that Ontarians are telling her they aren't happy with the government.
The minority Liberals don’t have enough seats in the Ontario legislature to get their budget passed on their own, which means they will need help from another party to make that happen. And since the Progressive Conservatives vowed to vote against the budget before it was tabled, that has left the government with the New Democrats as their only hope.
Despite the government’s tenuous grip on power, Wynne said Monday that she believes the time to negotiate is over and that NDP Leader Andrea Horwath must soon decide whether or not she will support the Liberal budget or vote against it.
Speaking on CBC’s Metro Morning, Wynne said her minority Liberals have worked to include many of the NDP’s demands into the budget, which was released on Thursday.
The Liberals are currently in a minority position and need NDP support for the budget to pass and avoid an election. Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has already said his party won’t support the budget.
Wynne said she expects to meet with Horwath in the next few days and is open to limited discussions about NDP demands.
"My feeling is that the time for conversation is done now, and we need to make a decision," Wynne told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway.
Budget reflects NDP's wants, Wynne says
Wynne said the Liberals have folded NDP demands into the budget, including measures to reduce youth unemployment and cut auto insurance rates.
Wynne said she’s still open to discussing the NDP’s budget concerns with Horwath, but said the budget won’t be changed substantively.
"We're not going to start from scratch," said Wynne. "We've worked very hard ... to put in place a budget that reflects what I believe the needs of people in the province are. There is a lot of overlap with the concerns of the NDP."
"I really believe that people don't want an election, but if we have to go to an election, we will have a discussion with the people of Ontario about what their concerns are."
Horwath told the legislature Monday that she has been talking with Ontarians and they aren’t happy with what their government is doing at Queen's Park.
"Many people saw that that budget reflected New Democrat proposals to take a balanced approach to balancing the budget and to make life more fair for people," she said.
"But they also see a government that constantly makes promises that they don’t intend on keeping."
New Democrat MPs are due to meet Tuesday and debate whether to support the budget, or to potentially join the Progressive Conservatives in defeating it.
Wynne was also asked about transit funding. Metrolinx, which handles regional transportation planning for the province in the GTA and Hamilton, is due in June to release its list of funding measures to pay for transit expansion. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's executive committee voted to defer consideration of a report from the city manager on the revenue tools that Toronto should consider.
Wynne said Monday she wants all municipalities in the region to come to the table.
"I hope that they [Toronto city council] do have the discussion about the revenue tools. The whole region needs to be involved."