Green Party campaign platform includes $65B for 'new climate economy,' major health-care promises
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner released plan in Toronto Thursday morning
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner unveiled his costed election campaign platform Thursday, a vision for Ontario that proposes nearly $65 billion to transition to a "new climate economy" and a plan to strengthen the independence of the province's top doctor.
"It is now or never to address the climate crisis and we can do it in a way that addresses the cost-of-living concerns that so many people in this province have right now," Schreiner said in Toronto.
"You can vote for the Ontario you want. The Ontario Greens have a plan to build a caring society, connected communities and ensure we have a climate-ready province."
At the core of the economic plan is a green retrofit program. A Green government would aim to retrofit 40 per cent of existing Ontario homes and workplaces by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040, the party says.
You can read the full party platform for yourself at the bottom of this story.
They say the effort — which the Greens estimate would cost the province $16.4 billion over the next four years — would generate more than 50,000 new jobs annually.
The plan includes rebates of between $15,000 and $20,000 for homeowners, depending on household income, to cover the costs of the retrofits like installing heat pumps and better insulation.
Money for those rebates would come in part from redirecting some of the nearly $7 billion in energy subsidies Ontario is currently paying out to residents each year, subsidies that Schreiner says mostly benefit wealthier households that use more electricity.
"We believe that money would be much better spent helping homeowners retrofit their homes so they can save money by saving energy and reducing climate pollution at the same time," Schreiner said in an interview. Schreiner is the party's only incumbent member of the legislature but the Greens are campaigning to grow their caucus this year.
The party says energy subsidies that support people who are low income or live in rural and remote areas, as well as those for First Nations families, would remain in place.
$10K rebates for EVs
The Greens say they have a goal to halve carbon pollution by 2030 and reach net zero by 2045.
The plan to reduce emissions includes a proposal to phase out the sale of new gas and diesel passenger vehicles, medium-duty trucks and buses by 2030.
They are also promising a $10,000 rebate for electric vehicle purchases and to build more charging infrastructure, including a requirement that existing parking lots and garages install charging at 50 per cent of spots by 2030 and 75 per cent of spots by 2035.
The platform also features spending to cover one year of college tuition for 60,000 people over four years who want to work in green jobs. The Greens say the commitment would cost $455 million annually.
More independence for chief medical officer
Meanwhile, Schreiner says a proposal to turn the position of the Chief Medical Officer Health into an independent watchdog role, similar to an auditor with annual public reporting, came from concerns over possible politicization of the role during the pandemic.
"I think government is responsible in the case of the pandemic of ultimately making policy decisions, but I think we need to make sure we have public confidence in the independence of the advice and public recommendations that the chief medical officer of health is providing," he said
Other pandemic-related promises from the party include a public inquiry into COVID-19 — which the NDP have also called for — and improving diagnosis and OHIP coverage for treatment of rare diseases, including long COVID.
Like the Liberals and NDP, the Greens have committed to phase out for-profit long-term care. Schreiner says the party hasn't set a date for that yet, but all new beds in the sector would be municipal or non-profit.
The Greens are pledging to build 55,000 new long-term care beds by next year, boost home care spending by 20 per cent, set a base wage of $25 per hour for personal support workers and pilot a basic income program for unpaid family and community caregivers.
There is also a pledge to establish a 24-hour mental health crisis line to divert calls from 911, create more mental health clinics across the province and fund mental health care through OHIP, as the NDP is also promising.
Mental health promises for children and youth include a pledge to reduce service wait times to 30 days or less, fund services for youth aging out of care, require mental health training across the education system and fund youth wellness hubs for every community in Ontario.
'Climate bonuses' for low-income families
The Greens are proposing two changes that could lead to new taxes and fees for some Ontarians.
The first is $6 billion in so-called "climate bonuses" for lower-income families that would be paid for by levying a one per cent "climate surcharge" on the top 10 per cent of earners in the province.
"We know that the energy transition will disproportionately affect lower-income individuals and households," Schreiner told CBC News.
"And we want to make sure that as we move forward and address the climate crisis, we do it in a way that we don't leave anybody behind and we help folks be able to afford the transition."
The party says families or individuals earning up to $69,000 annually would receive between $300 and $600 per year under the program. The payments would go to them through rebate cheques.
Second, the Greens say they would establish a Climate Adaptation Fund for municipalities that would be financed by a "dedicated adaptation levy" drawn from parking revenues and taxes on gas.
The Greens price the promise at $8 billion over four years.
Rolling back changes under Ford
Schreiner is pledging to roll back a number of changes to the province's environmental policy made under Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford.
The party says it would bring back the Office of the Environmental Commissioner, which Ford scrapped in 2019. At the time, his government said the duties of the commissioner would be rolled into the office of the province's auditor general.
Dianne Saxe, the last commissioner to hold the position before its dissolution, is running for the Greens in the Toronto riding of University–Rosedale.
The Green platform also promises to reverse changes the Ford government made through Bill 245 in 2021.
The law was ostensibly intended to improve access to justice across the legal system, though it included reforms that folded all land use planning tribunals — including the Environmental Review Tribunal — into a single entity called the Ontario Land Tribunal.
Critics of the bill said it handed too much power to developers and restricted the influence of local municipalities in major land use decisions.
The Ford government defended the changes as cutting unnecessary red tape in the planning process. Schreiner rejected that framing.
"It is not red tape to protect the nature that protects us," he said. "But we have to reverse Doug Ford's systematic dismantling of environmental protections."
In the interview, Schreiner also stressed his party's commitment to protect at least 25 per cent of the province's lands and water by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030, and create five new provincial parks, mostly in northern Ontario.
Here's the full Green Party platform as published on Thursday, May 12:
With files from The Canadian Press