Ontario Budget 2018: It’s about the Election

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa Credit: Global News

By: Laura Steiner

The subject line on the news release detailing the provincial budget read: Delivering a Plan for Care and Opportunity.  Alternate titles might have been: “Delivering a plan for our re-election”  Or: If voters care about these goodies, you have the opportunity to re-elect us.  It boils down to an “if we’re re-elected then you get stuff” idea.  And even then a lot of it is probably not going to happen.

The centrepiece is an Ontario Drug and Dental program that would cover 80% of medical and dental costs for those without workplace benefits or access to OHIP+.  It’s likely to get many voting Liberal who don’t otherwise do so.

Let’s look at the numbers. The program promises $400/ single people, $700 for a family of four, and $600/ couple.   Dental check-ups for adults are around $200. For a single person going to the dentist twice a year that’s $400 already.  Add to that a filling which could go as high as $400 depending on how much time it takes to do it.  That brings dental to $800 over a year.  The money covers half, if you’re not on any prescriptions.

But, let’s face it.  Most adults have at least one prescription.  And some of those can go over $100/month or $1200/ year.  That brings the total to $2000/year.  The money suddenly only covers 5%.  It helps, but it’s not enough.  Add a second at roughly the same price, it goes to $3000. This money is gone in a blink of an eye.

If the Liberals are re-elected they have to find money for this program. And a public transit credit for seniors.  They will eliminate the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) deductible, plus provide $3 trillion for post-secondary education over 10 years, and provide free childcare.

They will have to do this without the $450 million that would have been coming in through revenue the 60% of hydro one.  They’ll have to do it with the potential job losses due to minimum wage increase, and a possible future without NAFTA.

The Drug and Dental Plan is difficult to resist. It sounds so good if the Liberals re-elected it’ll be offered to us again at the next election.  After 15 years in power,  it’s not the people that matter, it’s the election.