Strong Showing For Doug Ford In Ontario

The key theme of the 2018 Ontario election was change and Ontarians voted in change with a Doug Ford Progressive Conservative government commanding a 76-seat majority in the provincial legislature. This is a strong majority which gives the PCs a clear mandate to implement their agenda. You can view the full results by riding here.

Andrea Horwath’s NDP will form the Official Opposition with 39 seats, up from 21 seats from their 2014 result. In a triumphant speech to the party faithful, Horwath reiterated her campaign themes and celebrated her gains despite the majority government they will be facing as Her Majesty’s Official Opposition.

The Liberals, who went into the election with 55 seats and a majority government, may very well have lost official party status, holding seven seats in the legislature (with a small number of votes remaining to be counted.) Premier Kathleen Wynne has resigned as Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, but has held on to her Don Valley West seat in a tight race.

For the first time ever in Ontario, the Green Party has won a seat in the legislature with the election of leader Mike Schreiner in Guelph.

Voter turnout was around 58%, up from 51.3% seen in the 2014 provincial election.

Notable wins and losses

Star PC candidates, such as Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney, Rod Phillips and Peter Bethlenfalvy have won their seats and will likely hold key Cabinet positions, as will returning PC MPPs Lisa MacLeod, Vic Fedeli, Ernie Hardeman and Jim Wilson.

A number of prominent Liberal Cabinet Ministers have lost their seats, including Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault and Health Minister Helena Jaczek.

Party stalwart Jim Bradley, who represented the riding of St. Catharines since 1977, lost to the NDP. Traditional Liberal stronghold riding of Toronto-St. Paul’s—one of the safest Liberal ridings in the last election—has also gone to the NDP, with the election of Jill Andrew.

What does a PC majority mean for you and your business or organization? 

Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives ran a campaign with key election commitments that give us insight into what will be his government’s priorities in the early days of its mandate.

Value-for-Money Audit

We should expect one of Doug Ford’s first actions as Premier to be the launch of a value-for-money audit. During the campaign, he positioned this commitment as an investigation into Liberal government spending, and it will provide the Ford government with an opportunity to dig into a wide range of government programs. Observers of Toronto municipal politics will be reminded of a similar audit conducted at the beginning of the Rob Ford administration that uncovered limited opportunities to achieve efficiencies. However, we know that the provincial Auditor General has repeatedly found gaps in the province’s spending from a value-for-money perspective—and these gaps will likely be considered low-hanging fruit for Ford’s efficiency-finding efforts.

Hydro

During the campaign, Ford made a number of high-profile commitments on hydro, including a potential replacement of the Hydro One board in order to affect a reduction in CEO and Board compensation. Given hydro’s status as a key source of voter frustration, we should expect the new Ford government to take early action to provide relief to ratepayers.

A “Business-Friendly” Government

A frequent refrain during the Ford campaign was a commitment to make the province “open for business.” In practice, this will mean a cancellation of the planned increase to the minimum wage (it will not rise to $15, as Kathleen Wynne had committed to), and a decrease in the corporate income tax rate. We should expect these actions to occur in the early days of the Ford government’s mandate, and the private sector’s reaction to these initiatives will be watched closely.

Next Steps on Health

In health care, the Ford campaign emphasized a commitment to increasing the number of long-term care beds in the province, as well as a broad commitment to eliminating hallway medicine in the province’s hospitals. These commitments do not come cheap—and with Ford’s promise not to lay-off a single worker in the public sector, there will be immense pressure on the province’s health care budget. After all, health care represents just more than 50 per cent of the provincial budget, and it is imperative that health care stakeholders engage immediately with the new Ford government to share expertise in order to inform the Ford government’s decision-making on health policy.

Opportunity for Engagement

With the Ford campaign focusing on a select number of policy priorities in their platform, there remains a large number of policy areas where stakeholders can develop medium- and long-term relationships with the government to help provide input on their policy direction. The business of government must continue, and Hill+Knowlton Strategies consultants are eager to work with our clients and other stakeholders to optimize their engagement with the new government at this essential time.