Last weekend Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown surprised many by releasing the PCs 2018 election platform – seven months before the election.
Dubbed, The People’s Guarantee the platform is primarily aimed at middle class voters with central pillars including a middle class tax cut, a daycare tax rebate, and a reducing in residential hydro rates. The PCs are also pushing new investments in mental health.
For the Ontario ICT industry there really isn’t that much there. A few nuggets that may interest the industry include:
- Hydro Rates: Create a competitive and stable electricity system for business (e.g. single rate, discounts for economic benefit).
- Taxes: Reduce the small business tax rate by 28.5%.
- Grants for Business/Investment Attraction: Convert the “invite only” Jobs and Prosperity Fund to a more transparent granting program based on tax holidays. Ensure grant contracts contain enforceable penalties if performance/job targets are not met.
- Transportation: Introduce free WIFI on GO trains ($66M budgeted in plan); Fulfil transit promises – including all day GO trains between KW and Toronto and Ottawa, KW, Hamilton light rail; Upload TTC maintenance/investments to the province; $5B to build new subways in Toronto.
- Scale Ups/Retaining Talent: Create a Graduate Tax Credit that will help Ontario graduates stay and work at high growth firms (e.g. companies that qualify for current Scale Up Vouchers Program) (*note- plan does not budget for this program)
- Remote Access to Broadband + Cellular Service: PCs will make broadband and cellular infrastructure projects eligible under the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund, and put $100M towards directly funding expansion to remote and northern areas.
- Talent: Focus Provincial Nominee Program on high demand skills like STEM; Improve student job information portal to highlight in demand careers.
- Digital Services: Create an online portal for renewing health cards (currently can only renew Driver’s Licences online).
Overall, the platform makes little reference to technology as a driver of Ontario’s economy, its role in improving health care delivery, or the need for government to transform its operations with technology. There is also nothing on the importance of digital literacy in schools or ICT talent development.
ITAC is planning on engaging all Ontario parties to stress the importance and advance key priorities of the ICT industry. We will update you on platforms of other parties as they become available.