October 7, 2011 : It was a tight race throughout the campaign and election night was no exception. In the end, the Liberals won a minority government with the narrowest of margins, winning 53 seats in the new legislature, one shy of a majority.
The popular vote was equally close. The Liberals captured 37.6 percent of the popular vote, with the Progressive Conservatives close behind at 35.4 percent and the NDP at 22.7 percent. However, voter turnout was a record low 49.2 percent.
The New Legislature
The seats lost by the Liberals were gained by both the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats. Tim Hudak’s PCs took 37 seats, 12 more than they held at the dissolution of the legislature and the NDP added 7 seats, bringing Andrea Horwath’s party to 17 seats.
There are a number of interpretations to explain the result. Some observers see the election as proof of an increasingly divided electorate, others see McGuinty’s win as reluctance on the part of voters to change course during continued global economic turmoil.
It’s also likely that a minority government with two strong opposition parties expresses voters’ desire to see the parties work together to move Ontario forward on key issues. The party leaders know they’ll have no choice but work together.
“It’s time to move forward the Ontario way, it’s about building and working together,” McGuinty said. “It’s not about giving in to defeatism or negativity. It’s about building a bright future with ideas, enthusiasm and hope.”
Horwath added to the sentiment, “the people have said very clearly we need to move in a direction where people are at the top of the agenda. Our team of New Democrats will work with all MPPs to make Ontario’s government work.”
And in case there was any doubt that the new legislature will have a heightened sense of accountability, Hudak added that “it is very clear the people of Ontario have put Dalton McGuinty on a very short leash.”
What the election means for older Ontarians
With the dust settling on the election, the new legislature will have no time to waste in moving forward on key issues, such as healthcare and energy costs. The Liberals are in power, but the minority status means that the parties will have to work together to push through the reforms Ontarians are expecting.
For one, almost half of all program spending is dedicated to healthcare. Each party proposed to maintain health spending, which means the biggest differences between the parties is in allocation of healthcare dollars rather than the total amount being proposed for spending.
The Liberal Party focused primarily on supporting homecare, the PCs focused on long-term care, and the NDP on wait times for acute long-term care.
In pre-election letters to CARP members, the three leaders promised to improve the quality and access to health care. CARP members will be expecting the new government to act on those promises and to ensure that the best policies from each arty are implemented to the benefit of all Ontarians.
In addition the proposals on health, the new government and opposition parties must work together to improve the cost energy for older Ontarians. The Liberal Party has done much to modernize energy infrastructure, but rising costs and the HST have hurt a great number of fixed and lower income seniors. CARP members will expect the Liberal government to work with the PCs and NDP to offer energy cost relief for seniors who need it most.
CARP will work with all parties in moving the new government forward on the issues that matter to older Ontarians.
To read each of the Party Leader letters to CARP members, following the links below:
To read CARP‚s platform analysis, with links to each party platform, click here: http://www.carp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Ontario-Platforms-Targeting-Older-Ontarians.pdf