Making Ontario affordable is a driving force for NDP leader Andrea Horwath on the campaign trail.
During an interview with Barrie 360 on Wednesday, Horwath touted her plan to reduce auto insurance rates by 40 per cent, regulate the price of gasoline and build 1.5 million homes in 10 years with a mix of starter homes, rental homes and affordable housing.
Dabbling with auto insurance rates to lessen the burden on drivers is not re-inventing the wheel, but Horwath says Ontarians are getting ripped off.
“The Liberals and Conservatives have no interest in offending their buddies in the insurance industry,” she explains. “I don’t have that worry.”
Under the plan, insurance companies would not be allowed to raise rates for 18 months while a commission investigates a new system.
“I am not going to predict the outcome in terms of the model,” says Horwath. “We are paying more for auto insurance than anywhere else in the country, even though we have the least amount of accidents.”
The commission would explore the no-fault insurance systems in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia and Quebec’s public and private hybrid system, she said.
As well, the NDP would ban the practice of different auto insurance rates based on postal codes.
Horwath is well aware of the anger drivers are experiencing when they have to fuel up their vehicles. She says recent legislation by the Ford government to cut gasoline and fuel taxes by a total of 11 cents per litre for six months starting on July 1 is nothing more than a gimmick. Horwath says it lets oil companies off the hook.
“The NDP is talking about regulating gas. We know the oil companies gouge us, particularly when long weekends are coming.”
Asked if regulation will lead to cheaper gas prices, Horwath explained regulating the price at the pump will take away those last-minute shocks for drivers and motorists will know from week to week what the price is going to be.
Another issue for Horwath is the housing crisis, something she admits there is no silver bullet for a quick fix.
The NDP plan would see 1.5 million homes in 10 years with a mix of starter homes, rental homes and affordable housing. Horwath explains her government would build at least 250,000 affordable and non-market rental homes operated by public, non-profit and co-op housing providers, and the NDP would bring back real rent control and scrap vacancy decontrol. First-time buyers with household incomes under $200,000 would be able to access home equity loans of up to 10 per cent of the purchase price to help with their down payment.
In the area of transportation, the controversial Bradford Bypass would not see the light of day if the NDP wins the election.
“We don’t believe the Bradford Bypass the government is touring is environmentally responsible. We are not going forward with a plan to pave over wetlands.”
She says the plan is irresponsible when there is a climate crisis.
“We have to make sure people can access other modes of transportation and that our existing highways can handle the pressure.”
Horwath says what Doug Ford is proposing with the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413 is to make his developer buddies rich rather than doing something for the right reasons.
“We have always said that when it comes to responsible transportation planning or environmental assessments, and the safety of people and capacity of communities to meet people’s needs, then absolutely we are for transportation, infrastructure, planning and investments.”
Horwath finishes off by making it clear the NDP would not prop up a Doug Ford minority government.
“I am absolutely miles apart from Mr. Ford and his priorities and values.”
In the June 2 provincial election, the NDP candidate in Barrie-Innisfil is Pekka Reinio, and in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, the candidate is Beverley Patchell.
With files from The Canadian Press
Images – Will Konken – Barrie 360