McGuinty expands energy tax break for seniors

Originally published in the National Post September 29th, 2010. To go to the National Post website please click here

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty responded to mounting attacks over rising energy costs yesterday by expanding a tax break for seniors — a move he said proves the provincial government is listening to public concerns.

The $70-million measure will make the pre-existing tax credit for hydro and property tax costs available to an additional 50,000 seniors. The tax credit is worth up to $1,025 annually based on a senior’s income.

“The purpose of today’s announcement is to recognize there are some additional challenges being faced by seniors and we owe it to them to have another look at it,” the Premier said.

The tax break was applauded by the Canadian Association for Retired Persons, the country’s largest seniors’ lobby, but jeered by political opponents.

Conservative leader Tim Hudak said he disagrees with the government’s method in targeting relief.

“Dalton McGuinty tends to want to pick winners and losers, whether it’s corporate grants for multinational corporations like Samsung or particular areas of the population,” he said. “I just have a different view. I think people are tired of Dalton

McGuinty’s social engineering.”

Mr. Hudak and New Democrat Party leader Andrea Horwath have in the past months focused on the rising cost of living, spawned in part by the July 1 introduction of the new harmonized sales tax.

Results of a poll released yesterday said 86%of respondents are finding it harder to make ends meet now than two years ago. Nearly as many –81%–said the introduction of HST was the “wrong thing to do.”

The Angus Reid Poll, conducted for the Toronto Star, found that 76% of respondents believe it is “time for a change” in government at Queen’s Park.

“To be blunt–it’s bad,” said Jodi Shanoff, senior vice-president of Angus Reid Public Opinion. “But there’s a year to go [before the next provincial election].”

Among decided voters, 41% back the Conservative leader Mr. Hudak, while Mr. Mc-Guinty garners 29%support.

The NDP leader stands at 22% while Green party leader Mike Schreiner is in fourth place with 8% support.

The online poll surveyed 805 people during Sept. 21-22 and is considered accurate to within 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Mr. McGuinty acknowledged his recent slide in popularity.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, there’s no doubt about it,” he told reporters yesterday.

“We’ve got to listen very carefully to Ontarians and what they’re telling us.”

© The National Post

Keywords: tax credits, election