It has been four years since the Ontario Liberals were ousted from government leaving only a fraction of their Members of Provincial Parliament standing in the legislature. Moreover, it has been two years since Steven Del Duca took the helm as leader of the party. These events underpin the two primary hurdles for the Liberals: party vision and leader recognition.
Today, the Ontario Liberal Party released their costed platform, A Place to Grow. The party is hoping its platform will tackle the affordability crisis and help families get ahead by introducing $1 transit fares, lowering the cost of food, or making buying and renting a home more affordable.
Many will recognize the platform’s title from the unofficial provincial anthem ‘A Place to Stand, a Place to Grow’ first popularized during Expo ‘67. With ‘Place to Grow…’ anchoring each of the Liberals’ priority policy areas, the platform is anchored in broad promises – fewer of the in-the-weeds policies that characterized recent Liberal platforms – as they attempt to grab attention and connect with voters.
As Del Duca has spent the weeks leading up to the official start of the campaign teasing his party’s platform commitments in a bid to set and control the narrative over the election period, many of the policies outlined in the master platform will already ring familiar to many.
With this platform, Del Duca’s Liberals are trying to take the party’s challenges head on by painting the NDP as a party recycling un-costed promises and the governing Conservatives as a party unafraid to make cuts across important services.
The platform – paired with recent ads introducing a more personal side of Steven Del Duca — are a portrayal the Liberals hope will present Ontarians with a clear choice in their favour. Over the course of the campaign, we can expect to see more strategic positioning and messaging around choice, including controversial issues such as Highway 413.
With polling tracking a neck-and-neck race with the NDP, the Ontario Liberals also hope their vision for the province will give them the upper hand and help solidify them as the only viable left-of-centre alternative to Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs.
The Ontario Liberal Platform lays out its commitments divided into 7 chapters. H+K has reviewed the document in detail to capture the major commitments from each chapter.
Cost of Living – A Place to Grow Your Family
- Eliminate HST on more meals, funded by fair taxes
- Replace the minimum wage with a regional living wage, starting at $16/hour
- Build 1.5 million new homes and deliver rent control
Seniors – A Place to Grow Older
- Revolutionize senior care in Ontario by guaranteeing home care
- End for-profit long-term care
- Boost pensions by up to $1,000 for seniors who need it
Health Care – A Place to Grow Healthy
- Clear the surgical backlog and set maximum wait times
- Ensure access to a doctor or nurse practitioner within 24 hours
- Make more mental health help available
Economy – A Place to Grow Economic Dignity
- Give every worker access to benefits and 10 paid sick days
- Build to a four-day work week
- Eliminate corporate taxes for two years for small businesses hit hard by the pandemic
Education & Training – A Place to Grow Up
- Build and repair schools with $10 billion funded by scrapping Highway 413
- Hire 10,000 teachers for smaller class sizes
- Fully fund an optional Grade 13 to give students a chance to catch up
Environment – A Place to Grow Sustainably
- Cut transit fares to $1 a ride everywhere in Ontario
- Cut Ontario’s carbon pollution in half by 2030
- Protect and expand the Greenbelt and create new provincial parks
Stronger Communities – Place to Grow Together
- Raise disability and social assistance benefits
- Advance Indigenous Reconciliation
- Ban handguns Ontario Liberals have a plan that works for everyone and a team ready to deliver.
With all major parties’ vision for Ontario now on the table for voters’ evaluation, look for tomorrow’s first leaders’ debate to set the next phase of the campaign. Post-debate polling, ground game and stand-out candidate moments will be the barometer for how the provincial election landscape is being shaped going forward.
One week in, there remains an onus on Steven Del Duca to introduce himself to voters – and distinguish himself from past Liberal governments; this is complicated by his role as a cabinet minister in the last one, which PCs are happy to remind voters. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath must convince Ontarians of the effectiveness of her party as Official Opposition while making the case that they deserve a shot to govern. Meanwhile, Doug Ford will be looking to remind Ontarians why they ousted the Liberals in the first place and relying on successes of the past four years.
Right now, the PCs look poised for a return to government, but campaigns matter, and a lot can happen in the next four weeks. Rely on H+K to keep you informed about what matters.