Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak threw a juicy bone to Ontario voters Tuesday, promising to phase in a 10 per cent cut to personal income taxes after a Tory government balances the budget in 2016-17.
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It's the latest pledge in his nine-step plan to help create a million private-sector jobs over eight years, which includes slashing corporate taxes by 30 per cent, cutting 100,000 public sector jobs, slowing the growth of energy rates and killing Ontario's $12.5-billion deficit a year ahead of what the incumbent Liberals have promised.
It won't be easy, but the province needs to make difficult decisions to improve its economy, Hudak said.
"There's no doubt this is the central economic issue of our time," he said in a lunch speech in Ottawa. "But in reality it's about so much more than just economics. It's about people."
The party released more details about their plan on Tuesday, including how many jobs they believe they'll create with each step. The biggest area for job growth would be allowing more apprentices in skilled trades so young people can get well-paying jobs working as plumbers or electricians. They estimate it would create 170,240 jobs over eight years.
Instead of giving grants to businesses, they'd lower corporate taxes to eight per cent from the current 11.5 per cent, which would create almost 120,000 jobs over the same period, they said.
Tax cut would be phased in
As for the personal income tax cut, the Tories say it would be phased in over four years, starting in their second mandate. But they could do it sooner if they have more money, party officials said. They estimate it would add 47,080 jobs by boosting real household after-tax income, which would boost consumer spending.
He said the party isn't counting the same jobs multiple times, such as an apprentice who works for a company that's attracted by lower taxes and slower growth in energy rates.
The Tories say they'd also take over Toronto commuter rail including subways, expand free trade with British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and encourage development of the mineral-rich Ring of Fire in northern Ontario.
Hudak wouldn't say whether he'd use taxpayer dollars to build a much-needed transportation route to the area, but called it a "classic example of a public-private partnership."
Premier Kathleen Wynne has attacked Hudak over his plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs and said his "cut first, ask questions later" plan risks plunging Ontario back into recession.
"I believe our priority in Ontario must be to maintain our recovery," Premier Kathleen Wynn said in Ottawa. "The recession squeezed us hard. We can't go back."
"I don't blame them for being skeptical," Hudak said. "Look at their record. More spend, spend, spend and then tax, tax, tax to pay for it, that's going to send us even further back."