NDP's Andrea Horwath pushes for economy-focused debate
Tim Hudak says Tories will cut red tape for small businesses
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath wants all three main party leaders to participate in a special debate devoted to jobs and the economy ahead of the June 12 provincial election.
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Horwath and Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne have already agreed to a special debate focused on Northern Ontario issues on May 26 in Thunder Bay. As of Monday morning, PC Leader Tim Hudak had not yet confirmed whether or not he would take part in that debate.
The Liberals drew criticism in the 2011 election campaign for skipping a similar debate, a decision they blamed on a scheduling conflict.
Horwath said jobs and the economy are topics important enough to have their own debate in this campaign.
"One of the things I'm concerned about is that we're not focusing enough on [the economy] in this campaign," Horwath said Monday during a campaign stop at a north Toronto bakery.
"I do believe the people in this province need to get an understanding of what the party leaders believe are the best ways to stimulate job creation and to get people back to work in this province."
The Progressive Conservatives haven't said whether or not they'll take part in the economy debate.
"We're working on details on when the debates are going to happen and all that stuff," Hudak said Monday. "But what's most important is the ideas that you bring to the table."
The Tories have issued an open letter urging Wynne to participate in an all-candidates debate in her Toronto riding of Don Valley West.
They've also made jobs the centrepiece of their campaign, promising to create hundreds of thousands of additional jobs over eight years with their cost- and tax-cutting policies.
But the PCs also plan to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs cut as a way to help eliminate the province's $12.5-billion deficit by 2016. Hudak has said the move would stimulate job creation in the private sector.
Hudak stuck to the jobs theme on Monday, promising to cut red tape for small businesses during a campaign stop at a Mississauga cabinet shop. Hudak said he would remove rules that prohibit competitive bids on government construction projects and end the government monopoly on providing workplace insurance to employers.
Hudak says reducing regulations would help small businesses create 84,000 new jobs over eight years.
The Liberals, meanwhile, are touting a multi-pronged approach to boosting jobs, one that includes government grants and more money for post-secondary schools.
Horwath has said an NDP government would establish a tax credit that would compensate employers for bringing on new staff, a plan she said would cost $500 million over two years and create up to 170,000 "good-paying jobs."
With files from The Canadian Press