POLITICS

Ontario NDP leader takes job creation message to Hamilton street festival

09/10/2011 01:55 EDT | Updated 11/10/2011 05:12 EST
HAMILTON - Ontario New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath took her job creation message to a receptive audience on the streets of Hamilton Saturday, hugging and high-fiving supporters as she pledged to create and keep more jobs in the province.

Horwath was on home turf as she made a stop at a street festival in her own riding, but even amongst a gaggle of NDP supporters who hardly needed convincing, she kept pushing her message of providing target investment and other tax credits to ensure Ontario's jobs aren't outsourced.

She highlighted the forestry and minerals sectors in particular, saying the province's natural resources need to be processed in-house.

"We need to keep those jobs here," she said.

"Let's face it, we have a great wealth of natural resources, both in forestry and natural minerals, but right now a lot of those minerals and those raw logs, those forest assets are being shipped to other jurisdictions for processing."

The NDP leader said she was eager to work with corporations who wanted to invest in the province, but warned she'd keep a tight handle on the province's employment.

"I don't believe in giving blank cheques to corporations to then ship jobs somewhere else," she said. "I do want to work with companies and I do want to make sure if we're giving up that revenue that we're getting something for it."

That campaign rhetoric was repeated time and again as Horwath had brief one-on-one's with members of the public Saturday.

Adrian Shivas was one of them. The machinist, who works for an automation company in Cambridge, Ont., said he's torn between voting Liberal or NDP in the upcoming Oct. 6 vote and questioned Horwath on her jobs plan at length.

"We're losing a lot of production to Indian, Eastern European countries," he said. "I like the fact she's going to concentrate on keeping manufacturing jobs in Ontario."

A key plank in the NDP jobs platform is a tax break for companies that hire new employees.

Employers would be eligible for a tax credit worth 20 per cent of a new hire's first year's wage to a maximum of $5,000 — a plan Horwath says will create 80,000 jobs over four years.

She said the $100,000 cap per employer would ensure a diverse pool of companies benefit from the credit.

To qualify for the NDP tax credit, companies would have to provide job training and prove they are creating new positions, not replacing current employees.

The Liberals have called the NDP's plan a "job killer" given the party's promise to scrap corporate tax cuts, and have accused the New Democrats of foster an anti-business environment.

Meanwhile, Tory Leader Tim Hudak has said his party is the only one that will really create jobs as higher energy rates and higher taxes from his rivals will weaken the province.