On May 21st, Ontario’s NDP leader Andrea Horwath made a public announcement promising to support the Liberal government’s budget introduced in early May and therefore help prevent a potential election. Ms. Horwath pointed out that although the NDP did not get everything they were asking for, it was enough to offer its support to the governing minority Liberals, who need the backing of at least two opposition members to pass the 2013 fiscal plan.
Liberals’ concessions to NDP already in the budget included a 15-per-cent-cut to auto insurance, new funding for youth jobs, and improved home care health services. After the budget had been introduced, Premier Kathleen Wynne agreed to two out of three additional requests from the NDP leader –
a new $2.5-million Financial Accountability Office, modelled on the federal Parliamentary Budget Officer and a promise to keep a legislative oversight of the Liberals’ plan to toll carpool lanes as part of the public transit expansion plan
The Premier refused however to extend the Ontario ombudsman’s power to include hospitals and the rest of the health care system.
A vote on the budget motion must take place sometime before the end of May. Later, the more detailed budget implementation bill will go in front of the Finance committee for the review and potential amendments.
Now that the general election seems to be distant, Premier Wynne is looking at setting dates for two by-elections: one in Windsor and the other one in London. Both seats were held by former Liberal cabinet ministers — Dwight Duncan and Chris Bentley. The deadline for the by-elections to be called is August 15, 2013.