Rapid Policy Update
2018 Throne Speech and NDP Five-Point Policy PlanMarch 19, 2018
On March 19th, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, delivered the Ontario government’s speech from the throne.
The throne speech, delivered ahead of next week’s budget and just months before the next election, focused on the theme of “care.” The top priorities for the government in lead up to the election include health care, home care, mental health and addictions, child care, and regional investments.
The OCC has provided a synopsis of the throne speech below. Throne speeches provide a general overview of the Government’s policy commitments rather than specific details. We will provide a detailed analysis of the government’s commitments following the release of the upcoming 2018 Budget on March 28th.
1. Health Care
The upcoming 2018 Budget will make significant investments in hospital operating budgets and reduce wait times at hospitals across the province.
2. Home Care
The government will invest in home care, providing more services for seniors at home as well provide financial relief for families caring for aging loved ones.
3. Mental Health Care
The upcoming 2018 Budget will expand access to mental health and addictions care and help ensure Ontarians have access to support in communities and schools.
4. Child Care and Education
The government will continue to address the cost of child care by making additional investments in existing programs. It will also provide free tuition to more post-secondary students through the new OSAP. The government also intends to invest in training more apprentices for the workforce, including in emerging fields.
5. OHIP+ and Dental Care
The upcoming 2018 Budget will provide more Ontarians with access to prescription drugs and dental care. This will include an expansion of OHIP+.
6. Economic Growth and Investments
The throne speech highlighted that the upcoming 2018 Budget will include support for regional investments and job funds. As part of the government’s engagement strategy, it will continue to advocate for Ontario businesses abroad including for the auto, steel, and agriculture sectors. The government will also continue to make significant investments in infrastructure.
NDP Five-Point Policy Plan
On March 17th, Ontario New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath announced the NDP’s five-point policy plan, a preview of their platform for the upcoming election which will be released in the coming weeks. Below is a high-level synopsis of their major policy initiatives.
1. The NDP is proposing an end to funding cuts and freezes, as well as greater supports for nurses, personal support workers, and those who require long-term care.
2. The NDP intends to convert student loans into grants that do not have to be repaid and pledges to create thousands of student co-op jobs across the province.
3. In an attempt to gain more control over the energy system, the NDP plans to de-privatize Hydro One by bringing it back to full public oversight, including the buyback of shares.
4. Their major policy announcement is extending dental coverage to all Ontarians, under a program called Ontario Benefits. Two-thirds of employees already have coverage from their employers. The NDP estimates, based on analysis from a C.D. Howe report, that the cost of this plan to employers not currently offering dental coverage would be 1 percent of payroll.
As announced last year, the NDP would also implement a universal pharmacare plan, Pharmacare for Everyone.
5. The NDP will raise both the corporate tax rate and taxes for Ontarians in the highest tax brackets.
We expect to see more detailed information on these initiatives in the NDP’s official platform. Implementation details for many of these programs—such as the pharmaceutical and dental coverage plans—will be developed in conjunction with stakeholders should the NDP form government.
In October, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released Vote Prosperity, a platform for the 2018 provincial election campaign on June 7th. The release of our platform nine months prior to the election was intended to ensure all parties have an opportunity to address the most important issues to business within their own platforms.
Upon its release, we will provide an analysis of the NDP platform with comparisons to recommendations in Vote Prosperity.