A Green government would declare war on poverty by doubling welfare and disability benefits if elected June 2.
Green Leader Mike Schreiner unveiled the party’s fully costed campaign platform Thursday with some ambitious goals to help Ontario’s most vulnerable people.
Schreiner said his party would “phase in a basic income with the first step being to double Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) rates and reduce aggressive clawbacks” to assist the needy.
“Poverty is crushing in this province right now. We have literally legislated poverty,” he told a meeting of the Star editorial board Thursday.
To help tackle the problem, the Greens would spend some $20 billion on increasing ODSP and OW payments, which would be eventually tied to inflation.
That’s by far the largest commitment of any of the four major parties.
ODSP currently pays up to $1,169 per month.
Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner says the party’s ideas are what the province needs to meet the challenges of climate change as he unveils their costed election platform. Schreiner was the party’s only elected member before the campaign began but wants to grow his caucus. (May 12 / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
In a surprise move on Monday, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford said he would raise ODSP rates by five per cent — even though that $425 million promise was not accounted for in Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s April 28 budget.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath would immediately boost OW and ODSP rates by 20 per cent and has said she would “legislate that raises must, at minimum, be indexed to inflation.”
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said if he wins, ODSP and OW benefits would increase by 10 per cent on July 1 and another 10 per cent one year later before levelling off at two per cent hikes annually as of 2024.
The Green platform also makes a slew of environmental pledges, including “cash incentives up to $10,000 for buying a fully electric vehicle and $1,000 for an e-bike or used electric vehicle.”
Schreiner said it makes economic sense to subsidize electric cars and bikes.
“It cost me about $5 to charge my electric vehicle (overnight) and … $10 to $15 to charge it at a high-speed charger,” he said of his Chevrolet Bolt.
“Meanwhile, people are spending hundreds of dollars or more, filling their cars up with gasoline.”
In his meeting with the Star, the Green leader was candid about what victory would look like for his fourth-place party on June 2.
“I’d love to form government because I think, of the four leaders on offer, I’d make the best premier,” said Schreiner.
“But I also am pretty honest with folks that it’s highly unlikely we will go from one seat to forming government,” he said of the 124-seat legislature.
“So, for us, our objective is to bring a caucus of Greens to Queen’s Park — I think realistically that is likely somewhere between maybe one to three to four seats.”
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