POLITICS
05/28/2018 13:32 EDT | Updated 05/28/2018 14:05 EDT

Ontario PCs' 'Platform' Section On Website Has No Costing Details

Doug Ford is being pressured to release the details as some Ontarians start voting.

Ontario Progressive Conservatives have a "platform" section on the party's website, but voters shouldn't expect much there by way of details.

The section briefly recaps pledges made so far by PC Leader Doug Ford on the campaign trail and requests visitors show their support by providing their name, phone number and email address. Such data mining is a popular way for parties of all stripes to feed their databases of potential supporters and donors.

Ontario PC
A screengrab of the "platform" section of the Ontario PC website on May 28.

Ontario PC

Ford is facing increasing pressure from his rivals to release a fully costed plan before the provincial vote on June 7 that will show how he intends to pay for his promises. Ford has criss-crossed the province making a host of pledges with estimated price tags attached.

The party's spokeswoman maintains those details will be released in the 10 days before Ontarians cast their ballots.

"Expect a fully costed platform before the end — as Mr. Ford has said," Melissa Lantsman told HuffPost Canada in an email Monday.

At an event in Newmarket Monday, Ford said: "We've been having press conferences almost every single day and we put a dollar figure beside every single announcement."

At the final televised debate of the campaign Sunday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne both accused Ford of disrespecting Ontarians. Horwath noted that some Ontario voters are already casting their ballots at advance polls without having seen a detailed PC plan.

"People started voting yesterday, Mr. Ford where is your platform? Where is your respect for the people now, when they're already at the polls and you haven't provided them any information about what it is you plan to do in our province?" Horwath asked. "What are you going to cut?"

Ford responded that all of his promises are costed out. But the lack of further fiscal transparency has spurred Horwath and Wynne to repeatedly charge that the Tories will make billions of dollars in cuts to public services, including hospitals and schools.

The Tory leader has said he will find $6 billion in "efficiencies" in provincial spending and that he will save "four cents on the dollar." Ford claims he can do that without cutting public services or firing public sector workers.

The NDP released a platform in April outlining key promises, including universal dental care. The party has made it clear it will run deficits and plans to pay for its promises by raising taxes on the province's wealthiest and hiking the corporate tax rate to 13 per cent from 11.5 per cent.

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The NDP also had to own up to a $1.4 billion costing error in the platform earlier this month, leading to accusations of incompetence from both Tories and Liberals.

While Liberals have said the most recent provincial budget formed the foundation of their plan, the party has also released a platform. Still, Ford has accused Wynne of "cooking the books" when it comes to the province's finances because of a pre-election report from Ontario's auditor general that said Liberals were downplaying their deficit projections by billions of dollars.

Many of Ford's promises have a populist bent, including his recent announcement that Tories would bring back "buck-a-beer" to the province. However, the devil has often proven to be in the details.

Ford has promised, for instance, to reduce gas prices 10 cents per litre by cutting the provincial gas tax and scrapping Ontario's cap-and-trade program. His plan to cut the gas tax is expected to save drivers $1.19 billion per year. The cap-and-trade system brought $2 billion into the province's coffers last years.

When asked by reporters how he would recoup that lost revenue, Ford said Ontario "can't afford not to do this."

Giving drivers a break at the pump will mean they spend that money elsewhere, he said.

"This will stimulate the economy when we put money back into their pocket. We aren't putting it anywhere else ... They'll go out and shop, stimulate the economy," he said.

Wynne, meanwhile, has said that slashing the gas tax will endanger transit projects. Ontario municipalities currently receive two cents per litre from the gas tax to be spent on transit, with that number expected to rise to four cents by 2021. Tories are also promising to keep those commitments.

With files from The Canadian Press, earlier files