By Barb McKay
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office announced Friday that a general election will be held on June 12.
The announcement came just hours after Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath stated that she would not support the proposed 2014 provincial budget. Wynne met with Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley, who accepted her recommendation to dissolve Parliament. The Writs for the general election are expected to be signed today (May 7).
On Saturday, Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson told The Independent that she is not surprised by the timing of the announcement. Thompson, who is also the PC deputy energy critic, sits on a committee of the Ontario Legislature that is investigating the gas plant cancellation scandal. Former Dalton McGuinty staffer Laura Miller was scheduled to testify on Thursday and Thompson believes that is a key reason Premier Wynne wanted Parliament dissolved now.
“We were anticipating this,” she said.
The PCs were already poised to vote down the budget and Thompson believes they are in a good position heading into the election.
“The budget is a tax and spend budget,” she said, adding that many of the items proposed will only add to the deficit.
The Ontario Ministry of Finance unveiled the draft provincial budget last week and while the projected deficit sits at $11.3 billion, the Ministry reports that it is still on track to balance the budget by 2018.
The proposed budget included a plan to create an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan for workers, particularly middle-income earners, whose employers do not provide a workplace pension plan. The plan was prompted by the fact that there are no planned increases to the Canada Pension Plan. The plan would be introduced in 2017, starting with larger employers, and provide a monthly benefit in retirement that would keep up with inflation and be paid for life.
Thompson said people who are already struggling to pay their bills do not need another reduction off their pay cheques.
“It’s just another tax on jobs,” she said.
The proposed budget also includes raising the minimum wage to $11 per hour, increases to the Ontario Child Benefit and support for wage increases to personal support workers in publicly-funded long-term care facilities and retirement homes and front-line child care workers.