TORONTO - Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Monday she did not get a commitment from Premier Kathleen Wynne to keep a series of promises this fall that were made to the New Democrats last spring.
The NDP want the minority government to use the fall session to cut auto insurance premiums, lower home-care wait times and help young people find jobs, all things the Liberals promised to get NDP support to pass the budget, said Horwath.
"I made it clear the fall session is the time for her to start making good on those promises," Horwath told reporters after the 12-minute meeting in the premier's office.
"I don't know that I got a response that makes me comfortable that that's a commitment that has been made as of today, but that's why we're going to keep the government's feet to the fire."
Horwath would not say which specific bills she and Wynne talked about, but complained afterwards about the Liberals' lack of new legislative initiatives.
"I was hoping to get something more firm in terms of an understanding of what their plans are," she said.
The two leaders did not talk about the possibility of a fall election, added Horwath, who declined to say exactly how long the NDP would wait for the Liberals to keep their promises.
"I went in there specifically asking the premier to make good on the promises, making sure that she knows that that's why my expectation is ... to get some things done this fall on the big issues that were promised in the budget," she said.
Wynne was not available to comment on the discussion, but the premier's office put out a release saying the two leaders had a good meeting.
"It was a productive discussion where Premier Wynne urged Andrea Horwath's NDP to support quick passage of bills her party has already expressed support," said Wynne's press secretary Zita Astravas in an email.
Wynne had requested meetings with Horwath and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak in an effort to hammer out a legislative agenda for the fall, warning she would call an election if the Opposition continued to block virtually all bills.
The only legislation passed in the spring sitting was the provincial budget, and Hudak came away from his meeting with the premier complaining Wynne is too focused on small issues and has no real plans to boost the economy and create jobs.
Wynne believes there are non-controversial and non-partisan items that can be dealt with, and wanted assurances from Horwath that some bills will get passed this fall.
"It's very clear to me that there are areas where the NDP, and quite frankly the Conservatives as well, have indicated that they're supportive, and so my hope is our conversation today will be about those things," said Wynne before meeting Horwath.
"I'm under no illusion that there aren't issues where we'll continue to disagree, but I think there are some areas — like the local food act — where we can agree."
The premier said earlier Monday that the Liberals already moved on the NDP's demand to create a new financial accountability officer to oversee government spending, and also delivered on other budget promises.
"We've got two companies that have said that they are reducing their auto insurance rates. We've got hundreds of thousands of people more getting community care. We've got a youth employment fund that will be available for young people at the end of this month," Wynne told the legislature. "I would suggest that those are results."
The Conservatives criticized the New Democrats for propping up the minority Liberal government for the past two years, and warned voters not to trust either party.
"Quite clearly there’s a partnership between the NDP and Liberals which is killing jobs in Ontario and driving up the debt," said PC critic Monte McNaughton.
"I think it’s scary for the people of Ontario when they see the NDP and Liberals working together because it’s taking Ontario down the wrong path."
The Tories attacked Wynne in the legislature Monday in her other role as Ontario's agriculture minister, saying she is not up to the job.
"(Farmers) are disgusted with the notion that the number-one industry in Ontario is nothing more than photo-ops in red rubber boots by a downtown Toronto premier who thinks a furrow is an expensive coat," said PC Todd Smith.
Wynne mocked the Tories for only asking agriculture questions the day before the International Plowing Match, a huge farm event that virtually all Ontario politicians attend each year. The legislature actually shuts down for the day.
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