Ontario PC leader Doug Ford has won a second majority government with a campaign focused on economic concerns, creating jobs through strategic investments and building highways. credit: Bruce Reeve
On June 2, voters in Ontario gave the governing Progressive Conservatives an extra seven seats to add to their already strong majority. Premier Doug Ford’s team won a total of 83 seats, up from the 76 that they won in 2018 — including one seat that will be held by Ford’s 28-year-old nephew and former Toronto city councillor, Michael Ford, in York South—Weston.
The victory was accomplished with the lowest ever voter turnout for an Ontario election, with only a dismal 43 per cent of eligible voters choosing to cast a ballot.
“Though the voter turnout was low, we know our members and volunteers have been hard at work during this election to make sure Federal Retirees’ priorities are known,” said National Association of Federal Retirees CEO Anthony Pizzino. “And that hard work is the start of keeping Ontario’s next provincial government — although under the same leadership — and its opposition accountable and responsive, especially when it comes to prioritizing older adult wellbeing from Queens Park.”
The two main opposition parties fared terribly, and both NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, who failed to win even his own riding, resigned over the poor showing.
The NDP won 31 seats, down from the 40 ridings they won in the 2018 election. Hobbled, they will still remain the province’s Official Opposition party. Their seats lost were in the north, the 905 region and in southwestern Ontario.
Speaking in front of her campaign bus after the results were in, Horwath pointed out that Ford won with only 40.88 per cent of the vote.
“The majority of Ontarians have not endorsed or supported the Conservative government,” she said during her tear-filled address. “Ontarians did not vote for more painful waits and more hallway medicine, more horrific mistreatment of our loved ones and seniors’ care. Or for more of our kids’ schools to crumble into disrepair.”
The Liberals managed to gain one seat for a new total of a paltry eight ridings, barely better than the crushing defeat they earned in 2018 that saw them decimated after 15 years in government.
“I am disappointed to not have been successful here in my home community, my home riding of Vaughan Woodbridge,” Del Duca said in his concession speech, after thanking the other leaders and his supporters and team.
The Green Party managed to hold onto its only seat, party leader Mike Schreiner’s riding of Guelph. Though adding no more members to the legislature, the party slightly increased its provincial vote share to 5.98 per cent, up from 4.6 per cent in 2018.
One independent candidate managed to win. Bobbi Ann Brady beat PC candidate and Haldimand mayor Ken Hewitt by just over 2,000 votes of the 45,000 votes cast in their Haldimand Norfolk riding.
Premier Ford successfully ran on a campaign based upon economic concerns, creating jobs through strategic investments and building highways.
“If you're a miner in the north who's out of work, I want you to know we're building that road to the Ring Of Fire,” Ford said. “If you've had to worry about your job at the local auto plant, I want you to know we're investing in the future of Ontario's auto sector. If you're a student who wants to work in the tech sector, we will have a job waiting for you. If you're a newcomer with a degree who can't get a job in your field, we'll make sure you can get the credentials you need.”
Ford said during his short speech that his team had knocked on more than three million doors to persuade voters to pick them.
“I promise to build this province,” Ford said with his wife Karla beside him. “To say yes to more housing, yes to attainable housing so families once again can strive for the dream of homeownership. To saying yes to building the infrastructure that keeps communities going. To put our workers to work building the subways, the hospitals and the highways that our growing province desperately needs. To run a smarter, more efficient government, so we can reduce the unfair burdens, like the license plate stickers and the gas tax.”
When the PCs delivered their 2022 provincial budget — essentially their campaign platform — on the last sitting day of the legislature, they offered $198.6 billion in new spending, most of it on infrastructure, and pushed back promises for a balanced budget until 2027-28. Almost one-eighth of that total was earmarked for the planning and/or construction of highways across the province, including the new Highway 413. And $61.6 billion was promised over 10 years for public transit, most of it around the GTA.
For everyone over 65, the Ford Tories allotted $110 million for the Ontario Seniors Tax Credit, saving on average an extra $550 on seniors’ tax bills.
They promised no new money for long-term care but pledged to continue programs they’d already begun, including their commitment to build 30,000 net new long-term care beds by 2028. They also said they are continuing with their 2021 legislation to improve long-term care, investing nearly $5 billion to hire more than 27,000 long-term care staff over four years and making sure residents receive on average four hours of direct care per day.
New money was set aside for home care, with an additional $1 billion in the pipeline.
In terms of health care, the budget promised $10 billion in funding for more than 50 new hospitals and health care centres, adding 3,000 new beds over the next decade.
Nurses were offered a $5,000 retention bonus and the pandemic wage increase for the more than 158,000 personal support workers was made permanent.
To help seniors aged 70 and older with eligible medical expenses, including expenses that support aging at home, a new, refundable Ontario Seniors Care at Home Tax Credit was offered. In 2022, the new credit would provide an estimated $110 million in support to about 200,000 low‐ to moderate‐income senior families.
“The budget tabled by Premier Ford earlier this spring still isn’t passed,” noted Pizzino. “What was missing from that budget still hasn’t been addressed, and that’s a comprehensive plan that truly fixes the health-care cracks that worsened for many older adults during the pandemic. Premier Ford still needs to address these issues as he sets out on the next four years — especially when it comes to extensive wait times for routine medical and diagnostic procedures, and the crisis in the long-term care and home-care sectors. Federal Retirees expects follow-through and accountability on what was promised in the spring budget — as well as a vision for a future of healthy, engaged aging in Ontario.”