06/04/2014 10:04 EDT | Updated 08/04/2014 05:59 EDT

Ontario Election 2014: Hudak Rejects Criticism Of Math Behind Jobs Plan

AJAX, Ont. - Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak responded to ongoing criticism over the math calculations behind his promise to create one million jobs Wednesday by saying: "I know I'm right."

Some economists have suggested Hudak confused the term "person years of employment" with permanent jobs, and political opponents say his math just doesn't add up.

Speaking to a small, early-morning crowd in Ajax, Ont., Hudak defended his plan, saying all the talk about his math and exactly how many jobs his plan will create reminds him of debates from graduate studies in economics.

"I stand by my numbers," he said when asked about person years versus jobs. "It's going to create the jobs that I say."

Hudak pointed to an article this week by an economist who he called "your exact definition of independence," who said the PC leader's pledge to create one million jobs over eight years is realistic — even "overly cautious."

"Philip Cross, the former chief analyst at Statistics Canada comes out, and he said Hudak's plan is going to work, in fact it's going to create more jobs than a million — I know I'm right," Hudak said.

He has promised a Tory government would bring a million jobs to Ontario over the next eight years, although about half of those would be created through normal economic growth, regardless of which party is in government.

Hudak has also said he would slash 100,000 public sector jobs over four years, saying the "vast majority" would come through attrition.

But the Liberals, and some prominent economists, including a former federal associate deputy minister of finance, have suggested the Tories misinterpreted information from a report they commissioned from the Conference Board of Canada.

The report, which studies the impact of reducing corporate and personal taxes, uses the term "person years of employment," which some economists suggest the Tories confused with permanent jobs, resulting in a vast over-estimation of just how many new positions their plan would create. They say the Tories counted one person holding a job for eight years as eight jobs when they made the million jobs promise.

Cross, however, writes that in the 1990s, creating one million jobs over eight years was the norm in the province, and Hudak's plan projects that better economic policies will return Ontario to such growth.

At a campaign stop in Vaughan, Premier Kathleen Wynne said the PC leader has not responded to economists who say his jobs plan would not work.

"He has refused to answer the fundamental question about how he can go forward with a plan that is based on a flawed and faulty premise," she said.

Hudak accused Wynne of distorting his plan, talking about a "phoney version" of it because the Liberals don't want to talk about their own record.

"The good news is the facts are on our side," he said. "People see through it."

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said in Toronto that the change Hudak is offering is not the change people want.

"Everybody knows that Mr. Hudak is going to fire 100,000 people, but nobody believes that he's going to be able to create a million jobs," she said. "I think his plan is not one that works and so the choice is clear and I'll be urging people to consider voting for the NDP if they want the change that they want."

The Tories released more information Wednesday about "skyrocketing" costs over a real estate project in downtown Toronto, alleging the Liberals are not being transparent about the costs.

The Conservatives have released documents they say they obtained from whistleblowers that show the governing Liberals approved a $317-million bailout of MaRS innovation and research complex and warned there were side deals that could cost taxpayers much more.

The latest information shows that renovation costs in the complex for one of the major tenants, Public Health Ontario, have "skyrocketed" over original estimates and are now upwards of $85 million.

The Liberals have said they didn't make the bailout of the real estate project at the MaRS discovery district in Toronto public because the deal has not been finalized.

— with files from Maria Babbage and Diana Mehta.

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