Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner says his party would save the province more than a $1 billion a year by merging the province's public and Catholic school boards into one single system.
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The plan to merge Ontario's Catholic and public school boards is one of the more controversial planks in the party platform released Tuesday, one Leader Mike Schreiner says will bring "honesty, integrity and good public policy to Queen's Park."
Schreiner said a single system with French and English boards would save the province $1.2 to $1.6 billion each year by eliminating duplication in administration, busing and buildings.
The Green party, which currently does not hold a seat in the provincial legislature, also plans to focus its campaign on jobs, kids and the environment in its bid to win its first seat.
"At the doorstep and in coffee shops, people tell me they are tired of the political status quo, political games, boondoggles, broken promises and secret deals," said party leader Mike Schreiner. "We must expect better."
Other planks in the party platform include:
- A focus on jobs by lowering payroll taxes for small businesses.
- Getting commuters home faster by creating a dedicated transit fund for infrastructure.
- Providing homeowners grants of up to $4,000 for retrofitting homes to save energy and cut costs.
- Doubling of the Ontario Child Benefit for half a million children living close to the poverty line.
- Creating a Social Innovation Foundation to provide grants, loans, and mentorship to help young entrepreneurs invent and implement solutions to problems.
- Putting food and water first by protecting key farmland and water sources.
- Making industry pay a "fair price" for provincial resources by increasing levies and royalties.
- Protecting communities and natural areas from "harmful" development by closing loopholes and ending political donations by corporations and unions.
"I want to make it clear to the people of Ontario: a Green vote can and will make a difference," said Schreiner. "On issue after issue, we have shown leadership and brought about change for a better Ontario."
The party pitches its plan as fiscally responsible, saying none of its promises will increase the deficit, adding: "None of our demands will rely on fairy dust or magic pots of money."
For each campaign promise, the platform document includes brief blurbs under the heading "How will we pay for it?" The funding proposals include reversing a 1 per cent corporate tax cut, ending the "costly" refurbishment of nuclear plants and proposing to pay for the increased Ontario Child Benefit by ending the final two years of a 10 per cent subsidy on electricity bills.
Schreiner also took aim at the other party leaders, in particular NDP Leader Andrea Horwath's call for reductions in the provincial part of HST — which Schreiner says the province cannot afford — and PC Leader Tim Hudak's job creation plan.
"Hudak [is] calling for a million jobs when we have 555,000 people unemployed in this province," said Schreiner.
"I guess that'll go to 655,000 once he cuts 100,000 jobs and I believe it's this kind of political games and magic math that's turning people off politics."