Wynne faces down NDP on transit funding

Controversy over the upcoming budget as Ontario legislature resumes

TORONTO – Despite a warning from NDP Leader Andrea Horwath that she won’t support any new taxes in the upcoming budget, Premier Kathleen Wynne says there’ll be a new “revenue stream” for public transit expansion.

Horwath sent Wynne a letter warning that she “will not support any new taxes, tolls or fees that hit middle-class families” in the minority Liberal government’s budget.

But Wynne says the Liberals are committed to finding a new way to fund public transit, and will decide by budget time whether that will be increasing the gasoline tax, road tolls or some other levy.

The premier says she wants to work with the opposition parties to get the budget passed, but adds she won’t change plans that the Liberals feel are best for Ontarians.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says it’s unfortunate that “Wynne sees taxpayers as revenue tools.”

Horwath later refused to say if the New Democrats would actually vote against the budget, which would automatically trigger an election.

Horwath also refused to say if she would support Wynne’s promise to introduce an Ontario Pension Plan, something the NDP first proposed.

The Progressive Conservatives want an election as soon as possible, so the Liberals must secure another deal with the NDP to get the budget passed.

Horwath also would not say what the NDP’s position is on the Liberals’ decision to hike Ontario’s minimum wage to $11 an hour.

The NDP leader’s letter to Wynne said taxpayers see their money wasted by the Liberals on such things as the “politically motivated gas plant cancellations” prior to the 2011 election, which cost up to $1.1 billion.

Meanwhile, the legislature resumes today for the first time in two months, with the Liberals hoping to avoid a trip to the polls, at least for now, after losing two more byelections last week.

There are 20 government bills left over from the fall session, including one to give workers up to eight weeks unpaid leave to care for a sick family member and another to increase penalties for selling cigarettes to kids.

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