TORONTO – After admitting to a major mistake in her platform that creates a $1.4B annual shortfall, Andrea Horwath owes voters a new accounting of her plan before the election is held on June 7th.
The mistake could not have been more elementary or indisputable. In accounting for a $700 million reserve, the NDP subtracted it from their annual deficit. Obviously, it should have been added to the deficit. Initially the NDP rejected any suggestion they had made a $1.4B screw up. But after former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, whom the party had hired to validate their platform acknowledged it was a mistake, Horwath had to fess up to the error.
“It is a mistake […] Looks like a spreadsheet type of error. If they wanted to eliminate the reserve, they should have left it at zero — not subtract $700 million per year.” (Kevin Page quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, May 19, 2018)
“It was a mistake. It was a mistake. We missed it…it was just a straight-up mistake.” (Andrea Horwath quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, May 20, 2018)
To put things in perspective, this $1.4B mistake is the equivalent of the combined operating budgets of Sick Kids and Mount Sinai hospitals every year.
The issue now is how can Horwath possibly campaign on a plan that she’s admitted has such a major mistake. Which programs will need to be scaled back? Which announcements are now rendered invalid? Which voters in which communities attached to which priorities are set to be disappointed?
These are questions the NDP need to answer before people vote, not after the election has been held.
These problems only compound a platform that has already been punched full of holes and question marks. The NDP can’t tell middle class families how much parents will have to budget for their child care plan, they’re ready to slap an average property tax hike of 28% on small businesses and their scheme to regulate gas prices has been proven to actually drive up the price at the pump.