Ontario Liberal, NDP leaders make dueling campaign promises as election approaches

Leaders of Ontario’s two main opposition parties made election campaign promises in Toronto on Tuesday, six months before the province goes to the polls.

Liberal leader Steven Del Duca promised to stop the use of ministerial zoning (MZOs), while NDP leader Andrea Horwath promised to increase the minimum wage to $ 20 an hour.

Del Duca, speaking on the spot for the Dominion Foundry, said the Doug Ford government has used MZOs to push development despite the wishes of local communities. He said Ford’s use of MZOs has been “ruthless” and “irresponsible”. He said Ford has issued 57 MZOs in just over three years.

Del Duca says previous governments used them as a last resort, he said.

“Doug Ford has chosen instead to use MZOs as a weapon of first instance to reward people who do not need government assistance,” Del Duca said Tuesday.

“We want to scrap the minister’s zoning power … The abuse and misuse of this power by Doug Ford has made it crystal clear that it is no longer the mechanism that will help us build the communities we need.”

The Liberals in Ontario wanted to replace MZOs with something more transparent and narrow in scope, Del Duca said. He added that the party would consult communities and not override their wishes.

He said the Liberals would only speed up critical provincial projects, such as affordable housing, non-profit nursing homes and expansions of natural heritage sites. But such projects will include required consultations and judicial assessments to ensure the province respects environmental protection, he added.

The Ford government has defended the use of MZOs as a way to accelerate projects needed to reduce rising housing costs in Ontario and build new roads and highways to alleviate traffic jams.

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath speaks to reporters after promising to raise the province’s minimum wage to $ 20 over four years if elected. (CBC)

Horwath, speaking at a restaurant in downtown Toronto, said the New Democrats would raise the minimum wage through constant increases over four years after the election. An NDP government will raise the minimum wage to $ 16 on October 1, 2022, $ 17 on May 1, 2023, $ 18 on May 1, 2024, $ 19 on May 1, 2025, and $ 20 on May 1, 2026.

The price of everything is rising, Horwath said.

“We know Doug Ford has not helped. Of course he canceled the minimum wage increase that was supposed to happen a few years ago. And for three years he has frozen the minimum wage in this province. He, as you know, does not respect workers,” Horwath said. .

“Whether you have shelves in a grocery store, whether you clean in a hospital, whether you pump gas at a gas station or work in a grocery store, people have to earn a salary that keeps them out of food banks and helps them get their needs met. to fulfill. “

On November 2, Ford announced that the Ontario Government will raise the minimum wage to $ 15 per hour on January 1, 2022 from the current $ 14.35.

At their respective press conferences, the two leaders explained why they believe they are the best parties to govern Ontario. The seats were aimed at the same group of voters – those who do not want to see Ford win another term, or those who have not yet decided who they will vote for.

Del Duca said: “We have the experience, we have the energy and we have the ideas to move the province forward and we will be ready to rule if we deserve that opportunity, from day one.”

Horwath said: “We had 15 years with a liberal government that literally promised and promised and promised and did not deliver until it was politically appropriate for them. And then we had Doug Ford, who has made things even worse.”

Ontario’s next general election will be held on June 2 next year or sooner.