Ontarians sent a record $14 million to provincial political parties this year despite Premier Doug Ford’s election promise to end per-vote subsidies, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) says.
CTF Ontario Director Jay Goldberg said Monday that the money earmarked for political parties could go a long way, adding “$14 million is the same as funding 188 beds in emergency care for an entire year.”
The subsidies also raise issues about accountability, spending in tough times, and Ford’s record of keeping promises, he said.
The taxpayer support is pitched as an anti-corruption measure that needs to be continued during the pandemic. The subsidies are based on a party’s percentage of the vote in the last general election.
Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper phased out a similar subsidy between 2011-21, yet the federal parties were able to raise funds to run election campaigns, Goldberg said.
During the third quarter of 2021, Ford’s PCs received nearly $1.5 million, the NDP more than $1.2 million, the Liberals almost $715,000 and the Green Party over $168,000.
Goldberg noted start-up parties and independent MPPs received no funding.
“It actually favours the big entrenched parties over upstart new parties or independent candidates,” he said.
Instead of eliminating “political welfare” as promised, Ford increased subsidies and entrenched them until the end of 2024, he said.
“His party before the next election is going to have collected somewhere north of $15 million from taxpayers since they’ve been elected 3 1/2 years ago,” Goldberg said. “I think it’s just one more example of Premier Ford’s rhetoric not matching his actions.”
There are already financial enticements to attract political donations, Goldberg insisted.
“If you donate a $1,000 to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, you’ll get six times as much in a tax credit as if you donated to the Red Cross,” he said.