Musings —02.07.2011 04:38 PM—
Hudak flips on future of Ontario health tax four days after saying he’d keep it
Feb 7, 2011 16:23
By Keith Leslie
THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO – Eliminating Ontario’s health-care tax is under consideration for the Progressive Conservative campaign platform, leader Tim Hudak said Monday, just days after he vowed not to cut the premium.
Hudak put out a news release last Thursday calling Health Minister Deb Matthews a “liar” for suggesting the Tories planned to cancel the health tax of up to $900 per worker, which brings in $3 billion a year.
“Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak has been very clear. If elected premier, he would not cut the health tax or Ontario’s health-care budget,” said the Feb. 3 Tory news release under the banner: “Minister of Health Lies to Nurses.”
PC critic Sylvia Jones held a briefing for reporters Thursday to back up the news release, in which she too accused Matthews of lying about the future of the health tax under a Tory government.
Hudak’s officials clearly felt Jones hadn’t done a good enough job of shutting down talk of scrapping the health tax, so she was told to contact reporters again Thursday to make it very clear the Tories would not be scrapping the tax.
However, by Monday, Hudak was right back to his long-held position that “all options” were on the table to give voters some relief, including the health tax.
“There’s probably no tax that I wouldn’t want to cut, and as part of our platform we’ll be talking about how we can make life more affordable and reduce that tax burden.”
Health care is too important to be a political football, and cutting taxes will mean a reduction in services, said Matthews.
“I think this is proof that Tim Hudak doesn’t have a plan,” she said in an interview.
“He flipped last week, flopped today, and he has yet to tell Ontarians he won’t cut $3 billion out of health care.”
Whether Hudak is talking about cutting the HST or the health tax, you cannot cut taxes without cutting services, warned Matthews.
“Hudak can’t even get this part of his plan figured out, let alone what services he would propose cutting down the road,” she said.
Hudak repeatedly refused to explain why scrapping the health care tax was now being considered, and why the PC party had a completely different position just days ago.
The New Democrats said it was obvious from the quick change in positions that the Tories were making up policy on the fly.
The health-care premium used to cause a lot of grief for the Liberals, because introducing it in 2004 broke Premier Dalton McGuinty’s written campaign pledge not to raise taxes.
However, Hudak’s flip-flop on the health tax Monday seemed to play right into the government’s hands, allowing the Liberals to claim he intends to slash spending and cut services just like former Conservative premier Mike Harris did.
INDEX: HEALTH ONTARIO POLITICS