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Cars vs. care: comparing the spending priorities of the Ontario parties

The race is on for the June 2 Ontario election. Question is: which issue will voters care more about—cars or care services?

May 26, 2022

1-minute read

Toronto Star columnist Armine Yalnizyan had an interesting take on the June 2 Ontario election recently. Comparing party platforms, she posed the choice before voters as a simple one: “Will you vote for cars, or will you vote for care?”

I decided to extend her analysis by looking at the spending plans in each of the four major parties’ platforms. For each party, I measured how many dollars it planned to allocate to cars and how many dollars it planned to allocate to care.

The basis for this analysis was the 2022 Ontario budget introduced April 28. The PC party has promised to pass the budget if re-elected, and the other parties’ platforms build on it. My analysis looks at the cumulative total of dollars behind the promises over three fiscal years, from 2022-23 to 2024-25.

What I factored into "car" and "care" spending

To add up proposed spending on “cars,” I included highway capital costs, removal of road tolls, subsidies for tires, cuts to the gasoline tax, and the cancellation of license plate sticker fees on household vehicles.

To add up proposed spending on “care,” I included program spending increases on health care, children’s and social services, and education (which includes elementary, secondary, and before- and after-school care) from the 2022 budget for the PC party and added the platform promises from the other three parties.

Increases in spending on what I have characterized as “other care economy” include a wide range of children’s and social services, including sexual assault and rape crisis centres, operating funding for supportive housing, autism services, and so on. The only increase for services of this nature mentioned in the 2022 Budget appears to be $6.9 million for the Investing in Women’s Futures fund.

The chart shows the spending plans of the four major parties:

  • The PC party promises to spend $1.61 on care for every dollar it spends on cars.
  • The Liberal party promises to spend $8.19 on care for every dollar it spends on cars.
  • The NDP promises to spend $11.88 on care for every dollar it spends on cars.
  • The Green party promises to spend $1,151 on care for every dollar it spends on cars (they're not spending any money on cars).

The front-page photo on the 2022 Ontario budget shows hundreds of cars on Highway 401 in Toronto, bathed in the copper glow of a summer sunset. When it comes to cars vs. care, the PCs’ priorities are clear. So, for that matter, are the other parties’ priorities. One week from today, voters will choose which road they want to take.

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