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.