Ontario NDP unveils party platform

The Ontario NDP released the party's campaign platform on Saturday, with a promise to cut wait times in the province's hospitals by spending more on long-term care and home care.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath unveiled her party's platform on Saturday in Toronto. (CBC)

The Ontario NDP released the party’s campaign platform on Saturday, with a promise to cut wait times in the province's hospitals by spending more on long-term care and home care.

Entitled "Change that Puts People First," the platform promises what the NDP calls "smarter investments" in health care.

"This plan is to help people who have been feeling ignored by this government," said Leader Andrea Horwath. "People have been telling me that it's time to do things differently in Ontario and that's exactly what I intend to do."

The platform includes a promise to provide 2,750 new long-term care beds and one million hours per year of home care.

The party says this will stop the logjam caused by patients occupying beds in acute care hospitals because there are no long-term care beds or home care available.

Platform targets ER wait times

The NDP said this will ultimately cut emergency room wait times in half. Wait times vary across the province, but waits of five hours for minor conditions and more than 10 hours for more complex conditions are common.

"We don't think we can solve all the problems in the emergency room overnight. We don't think we can build all the long-term care homes we need right away so it's phased in," an NDP official told CBC News.

The cost would reach $280 million by the fourth year of the government's mandate.

Other key points of the NDP platform:

  • A merging of the separate parts of the public hydro system: Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, Ontario Power Authority and the Independent Electricity System Operator. NDP says it can find savings by doing this.
  • A hard cap on executive salaries in the public sector at twice the premier's salary. They say this could save $20 million a year. The NDP also plans to cut the number of consultants in half, a savings they say will be about $125 million a year.
  • A cut to the small business tax rate to four per cent from the current rate of 4.5 per cent.
  • Restoring the corporate tax rate back to what it was in 2009 (14 per cent), while providing a refundable investment tax credit for corporations that create jobs.
  • A promise to balance the budget by 2017-18, which is the same target date set by the governing Liberals and opposition Progressive Conservatives. But the NDP platform does not contain a detailed fiscal plan. Party officials say they will eventually provide one, but want to wait until after the auditor general reports on the government's finances next week.
  • The addition of 50 new "family health-care clinics" to reduce the number of people without a family doctor.

The New Democrats have already promised relief to families in the form of taking the HST off hydro and home heating bills, as well as phasing out the provincial portion of the HST off gasoline, freezing transit fares and creating an Ontario pension plan.

Taking HST off essentials is expected to save as much as $375 per family.

While the party released the bulk of its platform Saturday, it says there will be more announcements and details to come in the months leading up to the Oct. 6 election, including their plans for education, northern Ontario and the environment.

With files from CBC's Mike Crawley, The Canadian Press