For the second time in as many hours, Andrea Horwath and the NDP scrambled to deny the undeniable about their platform – arguing that it’s not based on a major mistake. Except it is. A mistake that leaves billions in commitments effectively defunded.
Then, realizing that admitting to billions in cuts might not be the wisest course of action, they released a ‘line-by-line’ backgrounder arguing that in fact all of their deliberate cuts are still funded. Except that their “line-by-line” response is riddled with even more mistakes.
The indisputable fact is that the NDP platform is incoherent and unrealistic. It’s a mess. And the efforts to defend it are becoming increasingly desperate.
Here are eight specific errors in the NDP defence of their own bungled defence of their bungled platform.
|Mistake #1 – Autism:
On the NDP’s $62 million cut to Autism they still claim their platform invests $67 million annually, $201 million over three years (Page 64)
|Fact: The $67 million on page 64 is not for autism services for children. “We will invest $67 million annually in increasing support for agencies that provide services to adults with developmental disabilities…” The $67 million is for adultdevelopmental services, something they are cutting $1.167 billion from. While the NDP talks about their autism plan on page 65, there is no money listed in the costing chart.
|Mistake # 2 - Validators:
The NDP now claim their platform assumptions were validated by former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page.
|Fact: Kevin Page states his “analysis was on the reasonableness of the estimates and not on the content or direction of the policies.” He was not asked to and did not review the overall fiscal plan of the NDP platform. He states that he did not cost anything below $1 billion.
Economist Mike Moffatt confirms the Liberal critique is correct.
“The Liberal analysis is accurate. It is clear the NDP based their fiscal plan off Ontario’s 2018-19 Budget and then carved out all spending since the tabling of the 2017-18 Budget. This carve-out means some programs already in place would not be funded under the NDP plan. As such, any of those post-Budget 2017-18 initiatives retained under the NDP platform without specific corresponding costing in their platform’s fiscal plan are indeed unfunded.”
|Mistake #3 – Cannabis:
On the NDP $262 million cut to Cannabis and Opioid Strategies the NDP now claim they have carried through the baseline program expense and added $2.4 billion over four years for mental health and addictions services (Page 94 and 95)
|Fact: Both of these initiatives were funded in between the tabling of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 budgets. This is part of the $2.7 billion the NDP mistakenly cuts after misreading the chart on page 217 of the budget. The end result – the NDP has no money set aside to train officers and buy devices for cannabis enforcement, or continue the $222 million to enhance Ontario’s Strategy to Prevent Opioid Addiction and Overdose. The mental health money obviously does not train police officers to conduct roadside checks or buy devices to test for driving high.
|Mistake #4 – Apprenticeships:
On their $170 million apprenticeship cut the NDP now claim their platform increases trades and apprenticeship programs by $57 million each year – $171 million over three years (Page 75)
|Fact: While there are promises on page 75, in their itemized costing of the platform on pages 94-95, there is no money for apprenticeships there.
|Mistake #5 – Gender Based Violence Strategy:
On their $300 million cut to Gender Based Violence Strategy the NDP now claim their platform includes additional spending of $180 million over three years to help more women escape violence – including funding 10 days of paid leave for survivors of domestic assault, plus the NDP plan invests $500 million every year to build 65,000 new housing units, setting aside a portion for women escaping violence (Pages 66, 67 and 95)
|Fact: Again, promises on pages 66 and 67 are only words. The critical costing chart in the NDP platform does not include the cost for anything except the housing dollars.
|Mistake #6 – Northern Ontario Heritage Fund:
The NDP now claim their $85 million cut to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund along with its platform for Northern Ontario maintains the funding for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (Page 11, Northern Platform).
|Fact: The 2018 Budget makes a new investment to the base of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, bringing it up to $150 million by year three. The NDP chose to remove this investment.
|Mistake #7 – High Speed Rail:
The NDP now claim they did not cut $11 billion cut to High Speed Rail as they carried this line through from the baseline program expense (Page 94).
|Fact: The High Speed Rail EA was funded in between the tabling of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 budgets. This is part of the $2.7 billion the NDP mistakenly cuts after misreading the chart on page 217 of the budget. The $11 billion set aside to fund capital construction was included in the capital plan through the 2018 budget, therefore carrying through baseline program expense does not ensure it is funded.
|Mistake #8 - Platform Foundation:
The NDP says the Liberals added $5.7 billion in new program spending in the 2018 Budget.
|Fact: The 2018 Budget adds approximately $3 billion in new spending unforeseen in the 2017-18 Budget. As the chart on p. 217 of the Ontario Budget makes clear, the $5.7 billion at issue includes not just new initiatives announced in the 2018 budget but all expense changes made following the 2017-18 budget, including funding for initiatives approved between the two budgets.|
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