Premier Doug Ford now has a four-year mandate to “get it done,” as asserted by his Ontario Progressive Conservative election slogan.
These are the major promises he and his party made during the election period and in the run-up to the campaign.
Present a (nearly) identical budget
The government tabled the 2022 budget in late April, then immediately adjourned the legislature for the election campaign, so the budget was not even debated let alone passed. Ford (and, after a bit of waffling, his Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy) said the PCs would if re-elected table the budget without any significant changes.
However, that shifted less than two weeks later, when the PCs added a $450 million promise that they had neglected to put in the budget: boosting Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates by five per cent.
Lower gasoline tax
This will likely be the easiest promise for the government to keep: the fuel tax is set to drop by 5.7 cents per litre of gasoline, effective July 1. The PCs have only promised to keep the tax cut in place for six months. The loss of revenue for the provincial treasury during that period is estimated at $645 million.
Keep housing costs down
This will arguably be the most difficult promise for the government to keep. Polling through the campaign repeatedly showed the soaring cost of housing to be among voters’ biggest concerns. Housing affordability was also the issue named most frequently by a representative sample of the nearly 24,000 Ontarians who responded to the CBC News online civic engagement tool Vote Compass.
Ford gave the most detail about his party’s housing plans during a May 21 campaign stop in London. He said the PC plan “will help keep costs down for families by building the supply that meets home-ownership demand.”
While it’s difficult to measure whether a promise to “keep costs down” is actually fulfilled, there are some more specific pledges laid out in a PC Party news release. Those include “a re-elected Ontario PC government will build 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years” and “cracking down and punishing land and housing permit speculators who are artificially choking the supply of new homes and driving up costs.”
On that campaign stop, Ford met three families who he said are priced out of home ownership.
“I gave them my word that we’ll stop at nothing to make sure we address the housing crisis in Ontario,” he commented afterward.
Build Highway 413
This campaign promise became the perfect wedge issue for the PCs, helping them sweep every seat in Peel, Halton and York regions. Given how strongly and how often Ford pledged to get Highway 413 built, it’s hard to imagine that he won’t follow through on this promise. However, he has been deliberately vague on the cost and the timeline, buying himself some wiggle room on whether it comes in on time and on budget.
The PCs made other highway construction promises during the campaign around the province, including widening the 417 in Ottawa, and rebuilding Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph, something his government had already promised back in 2020.
Expand, renovate hospitals
In a flurry of government announcements during the weeks leading up to the campaign, Ford and his then-minister of health Christine Elliott toured the province to promise hospital construction work in a host of locations, including Barrie, Brampton, Brantford, Kitchener, Ottawa, Scarborough, and Windsor. The timelines for when several of these will actually be built remain unclear, with some of the promises of future construction merely for the next phase of planning.
During the campaign, Ford promised to “get shovels in the ground this year” on a new 469-bed hospital in the Niagara region, a project that provincial governments have talked about since 2014
The government has pledged to create 30,000 new long-term care spaces by 2028, and this chart in the latest budget shows the bulk of them are to be constructed by the time the next election rolls around in June 2026. In a news release in April, the Ministry of Long-Term Care said the 365 projects now in the planning and construction pipeline exceed this target.
The government is also promising that each resident in long-term care will receive an average of four hours per day of direct care by the 2024-25 fiscal year. The government’s latest reform package promises tougher inspections of long-term care homes and stiffer fines for those that break the rules, but does not implement all of the recommendations of the commission that investigated what went wrong in Ontario’s system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plan to stay open
One of the five bullet points in the PC Party’s “Get It Done” campaign literature nods to Ontario’s Plan To Stay Open, the government’s long-range blueprint for dealing with the post-Omicron phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its news releases from the campaign, Ford’s party commits to “hiring more nurses, doctors and personal support workers, allowing more seniors to stay in their own homes and producing more vaccines and critical supplies like PPE right here in Ontario.”
All of those promises are specific enough to be measurable, although setting the bar at “more” makes the promises not terribly difficult to achieve.
Mining the Ring of Fire
The Ford government is directly linking the future of the electric vehicle industry in southern Ontario to the mineral-rich deposit in northern Ontario’s nicknamed the Ring of Fire. The region is said to have a supply of the critical minerals essential to the production of EV batteries.
“This is going to bring prosperity to that whole region,” Ford claimed during a news conference May 12 . “As part of the whole supply chain, it’s going to create thousands of jobs in the north, with the critical minerals, and where I’m heading today in southwestern Ontario.”
In the first bullet point of the PCs’ five-point campaign pledge, there’s a promise of “a mining plan that will finally open up the Ring of Fire,” a swipe at previous Ontario Liberal governments, which began talking about the mineral deposit back in 2010.
On an earlier campaign swing through northern Ontario, Ford promised his government will build a $1-billion road to the remote mineral deposit, something he had actually pledged back in 2018 to do even “if I have to hop on that bulldozer myself.”
Ending political party subsidies
Ford first promised in 2018 to scrap the taxpayer-funded subsidy provided to Ontario political parties. Instead, his government reneged on that last year, announcing it would extend the subsidy through 2024 but end it then.
The amount provided to each party is based on the number of votes each received in the most recent election. In the wake of last week’s results, the PC Party is in line to receive about $4.9 million in each of the next two years, at the current subsidy rate, with the NDP and Liberals getting about $2.8 million annually and the Green Party set for about $700,000.
Climate change targets
It was not something Ford highlighted during the campaign, but his government has repeatedly insisted it will hit the 2030 target for reducing Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels. As CBC News reported in April, the government quietly revised its plan for how it will achieve this, but is still forecasting success.
Previous Liberal governments had brought the province more than two-thirds of the way toward the 30 per cent emission reduction target by the time Ford came to power in 2018, mainly by phasing out coal-fired electricity.
Promising to keep promises
The morning after his resounding election night win, in which the PCs took more seats than any party has done in an election since 1987, Ford offered one final promise: “We are going to make sure we keep every single promise,” he told a news conference.