Categories News

Here’s what Ontario Premier Doug Ford wants from Justin Trudeau’s government ahead of budgets

Ontario Premier Doug Ford sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week asking for billions of dollars worth of investments as both governments work towards their 2024 budgets.

In the letter addressed to Trudeau, sent on March 14 and shared by the Premier’s Office, Ford outlines additional priorities where he is hopeful for either a financial commitment or a legislative change.

Here’s what the premier is asking for:

Money for infrastructure:

The big ask in the six-page letter is funding for infrastructure, specifically roads, highways and public transportation projects. The government noted the estimated costs of expanding GO Transit along the Milton line could cost more than $6 billion.

“We are asking the federal government to commit to at least half of the capital cost of expanding this important transit line, which will serve millions of people in Peel and Halton regions,” the premier wrote.

“We are also asking for the federal government to respect its commitment to being a true partner by funding 40 per cent of the capital costs of the four priority subway projects included in our 2021 agreement. The costs of these projects have escalated because of the inflationary environment created by the federal government. It is only fair that you help fund these new pressures.”

It’s unclear by how much these costs have increased or what the cause of the ballooned costs are.

Pausing environmental challenges:

The province continued to call on the federal government to allow its flagship Highway 413 project to go forward without the need for environmental assessments.

“Where federal jurisdiction applies, Ontario expects the federal government to ensure its legislation and regulations help build new roads, highways and public transit projects faster, instead of slowing down Ontario’s ability to build these much-needed projects,” the premier wrote.

“Until we receive this certainty, Ontario will continue its ongoing legal challenge.”

The Ford government has asked the courts to declare the Impact Assessment Act, a law dealing with environmental impacts for infrastructure projects, to be void. A court opinion, which has no legal bearing, found the act was unconstitutional as it impacts items under provincial regulation.

In 2021, the federal government said Highway 413 does fall under the Impact Assessment Act.

Cancel the carbon tax:

It’s no surprise that Ford would reiterate his call for the carbon tax to be cancelled or paused.

Doug Ford gas

Over the last few years the premier has been vocal about his distrain for the policy. Earlier this month, he urged the federal government to “wake up, smell the coffee” on the topic.

“Cancel this carbon tax, put it on hold. Do whatever. And if you don’t, the people of Canada are going to annihilate you when the election comes up. Simple as that.”

In his letter, the premier called on Trudeau to not only eliminate the carbon tax, but eliminate tax on all home heating fuels.

“At the very least, the federal government should use its upcoming budget to pause the looming increase to its carbon tax, which will bring the total cost of the carbon tax to 17.6 cents per litre of gas.”

Other asks include:

  • Match Ontario’s $1 billion commitment to building roads to the Ring of Fire region
  • Provide clarity on what Ontario projects are eligible for the federal clean energy investment tax credits
  • Provide funding for “critical infrastructure priorities” that will help the province build more homes. No firm examples were provided.

The Deputy Prime Minister’s office did not respond to questions about whether these priorities will be considered in the next budget.

Instead, the office provided CTV News Toronto with a statement.

“Our economic plan is about building more homes, faster, making life more affordable, and creating more good jobs – and we look forward to presenting next steps in the budget.”

Ontario is set to table its budget on March 26 while the federal government has scheduled theirs for April 16.