Published On: Mon, May 14th, 2018

Ford wants kids to learn basic math, his campaign promises suggest he should

One of Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford’s folksy policy announcements last week came with the subject line “2 + 2 = ?”

It was supposed to be a reference to Ontario’s math curriculum, which he doesn’t like, but it seems far more apt as a reference to his own muddled financial thinking.

Ford is piling up spending promises at the same time as he’s racking up tax breaks and other hits to government revenues.

There’s more money for subways, mental health and child care. And there’s a middle income tax cut, a corporate tax cut, a tax credit for minimum wage workers, a reduction to hydro bills and a loss of cap-and-trade auction fees.

Taking all that into account, the equation looks something like this: $ 5 billion + $ 1.9 billion + $ 389 million + $ 2.3 billion + $ 1.3 billion + $ 500 million + $ 800 million + 2 billion = ?

Really, in the basic math that Ford thinks schoolchildren need to spend more time learning, it adds up to $ 14.2 billion of increased government spending and lost revenue.

The question mark, of course, is how he’ll pay for that.

He hasn’t said.

Indeed, he’s made that job all the harder by saying he’ll balance the provincial books — another multi-billion-dollar task— without cutting jobs.

And that’s just a few days into the election campaign. More announcements are presumably still to come.

Ford has boldly stated that he comes from a “different school of economics” than Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

“You two come from tax-tax-tax-spend-spend-spend,” he has said.

His school of economics, we’re left to understand, favours no-tax and spend policies.

How that works, we don’t know, and he’s not saying.

Pressed to provide some explanation about how he could keep these promises if he’s elected June 7, Ford falls back on his only answer: Efficiencies.

Even before he started making promises of billions in new spending and billions more in tax cuts, Ford had vowed he’d reduce the provincial budget by 4 per cent — another $ 6 billion — by finding “efficiencies throughout the system.”

So, at this point in the campaign, Ford is promising to simultaneously increase spending in some areas, reduce taxes and balance the budget, all without cutting jobs.

“Math is hard,” Ford said, in his release last week condemning Ontario’s math curriculum.

He’s not wrong about the first part: Math is hard.

He wants kids to go back to “basic math,” such as memorizing multiplication tables. There are plenty of reasons why the current “discovery math” curriculum, which requires kids to apply their basic math skills to problem solving, is better than the old rote learning system.

There aren’t any reasons, however, why Ford and his campaign can’t go back to basic math.

That means when he announces a new tax cut, as he did last Thursday, Ford (or, at the very least, the party’s finance specialist), could answer questions about how it will work.

When Ford and MPP Vic Fedeli, who has been the party’s finance critic since 2013, announced a middle income tax credit, they seemed to have no trouble saying that it would be worth up to $ 786. But they couldn’t say what it would be worth to earners at the lower $ 43,000 income level.

It was left to an economist to do the math: the tax break will mean an average of $ 7 for Ontarians with incomes below $ 49,000.

“We have a solid platform that is fully costed,” Ford told reporters in March.

It’s the middle of May now and, instead of a platform, all Ontarians have been getting is a disjointed set of announcements with variations of Ford’s folksy “I’m there for the little guy” promise.

It’s long past time for the Ford to provide a clear picture of what he plans to do if elected and how he’ll pay for it.

That’s math voters deserve to see before they cast their ballots.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

TORONTO STAR

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Ford wants kids to learn basic math, his campaign promises suggest he should