NDP want corporate tax 'roll back' to fund transit
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath releases an open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne on April 23, 2014. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has proposed a corporate tax "roll back" to pay for transit, which translates into a tax increase for businesses.
Horwath also recommended the provincial government sell off its shares of General Motors -- a move she said could fetch up to $1.4 billion to be put into a dedicated fund for transportation.
The NDP would put a downtown Toronto subway relief line and the electrification of the Pearson airport rail link at the top of its list of priorities, she said.
"We don't see how we can build the Yonge line extension up to Richmond Hill if we don't build the capacity in downtown to be able to accept that new ridership," Horwath said. "It doesn't make any sense.
"Yes, we believe that the Hamilton, Mississauga, Brampton are all priorities as well, but we do have to phase the investments."
The NDP also wants improvements to winter highway maintenance in Northern Ontario and the restoration of rail passenger service on the Ontario Northland.
In an open letter Wednesday to Premier Kathleen Wynne, Horwath called for an unspecified but "modest" bump in the Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rate.
The NDP leader defended it as a "roll back" of tax cuts previously implemented by the Liberal government.
The Liberals have been seeking "revenue tools" to fund transit and transportation around the province.
So far, Wynne has said she would borrow money through "green bonds," redirect existing gas taxes and maximize revenue from major public assets to pay for it.
Her May 1 budget is expected to explain how she will fill the hole created in the province's finances when she moves gas taxes out of general revenue.
Transportation Minister Glen Murray said in a statement Wednesday that Horwath's letter proves that the NDP can't be trusted with the province's economy.
A half percentage point in the corporate tax rate would generate abut $395 million -- funds the NDP has spent many times over with its various promises such as a job creator tax credit and youth unemployment fund.
"Ontario is emerging from the global recession. However, our recovery remains fragile. This is not the time for across-the-board corporate tax increases that will dampen growth and further job creation," Murray said.
The Liberals will present a "serious" budget for transit that supports infrastructure improvements over 10 years, he said.
Horwath described her own plan as "pragmatic" compared to the shifting transit priorities of the Liberals.
"We still don't know how the Liberals are going to fund their transit dreams, which seem to change every night," she said.
Horwath has ruled out many "revenue tools" suggested by expert panels, including increases to gas taxes or the HST to pay for infrastructure across the province.