Toronto

Ontario 2022 election campaign to officially begin Wednesday

Premier Doug Ford met with the province's lieutenant-governor on Tu vesday to request that the Ontario Legislature be dissolved. That means the 2022 election campaign will officially kick off tomorrow, with the vote scheduled for June 2.

Premier Doug Ford met with Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell at 3 p.m.

People cross the street in front of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Toronto. Provincial parliament will be formally dissovled as of 4 p.m. Tuesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Premier Doug Ford met with the province's lieutenant-governor on Tuesday to request that the Ontario Legislature be dissolved.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell accepted his recommendation and called for writs for the election to be issued Wednesday and formally named June 2 as election day.

That means the 2022 election campaign will officially kick off tomorrow.

Elections Ontario says that a notice of an election will be formally posted on its website at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Before meeting with Dowdeswell, Ford told reporters the election "will be a pretty clear choice" between going backward "like previous governments did" or moving forward with his Progressive Conservatives.

"We are going to start building infrastructure, we are going to continue building roads and highways and bridges. We are going to create great jobs for the people of Ontario," Ford said.

"Folks, June 2, you'll have the choice."

The parties have already been unofficially campaigning for weeks, with two out of the three major parties having released their platforms.

Polls at this point suggest the Progressive Conservatives are poised for re-election, with the third-place Liberals potentially overtaking the NDP to form the official Opposition.

But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath maintained Tuesday that her party is the best bet for what she calls "job number one" — defeating Ford's Progressive Conservatives.

At an event in Toronto, Horwath noted that her party formed the official Opposition in the legislature in 2018, while the Liberals are entering the race this time with just seven incumbent seats.

She also highlighted her party's platform promises on covering mental health services under OHIP, hiring more health-care workers and providing more affordable housing as priorities for the upcoming campaign.

"We know that the things that matter most to people can be addressed if we come together this time and make sure that Doug Ford is defeated with a vote for the NDP," she said.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said Ford and Horwath "seem to be on the same page," with both directing attacks at him, including each party running anti-Del Duca ads last year.

"I get that they're going to continue to focus on me ... I'm going to focus on the 15 million people who call this province home, and what they need and what they're looking for and what they're hoping for, as we come out of this pandemic for a quality of life that I think that they deserve," Del Duca said.

Elections Ontario is encouraging residents to vote early this year in the hopes of thinning polling station crowds amid the pandemic.

When voters show up on election day, they will see floor signage for physical distancing, Plexiglas screens, hand sanitizer and masks available — face coverings won't be required of voters or staff but will be supplied for those who want one.

But for those who want to avoid that, there will be 10 days of advanced voting, up from five, and Elections Ontario has a new online process to apply for a mail-in ballot.

Elections Ontario has also launched a new app, which will let voters map their poll locations, see candidate information, options on ways to vote and get notifications when a new candidate is registered. It also provides an electronic version of the voter information card, complete with barcode.

With files from The Canadian Press

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