Voting has officially started in Ontario.
Polls opened across the province this morning after a month-long election campaign in which parties battled to find the best approaches to affordability, health care and infrastructure.
A poll taken earlier in the campaign suggests that the Progressive Conservatives led by Doug Ford are on the verge of forming a second majority government.
Ford has campaigned largely on his party’s promises to build highways and hospitals in Ontario, as well as other measures he has touted as job-creating, and has had limited media availability in these. days.
The NDP and Liberal leaders are both presenting themselves as the only alternative to the Ford Conservatives and have not categorically said they would work together in the event of a Progressive Conservative minority.
This could be the last election as NDP leader for Andrea Horwath, who is running for premier for the fourth time after her party made gains in 2018 to form the official opposition in provincial parliament. .
Horwath voted in his riding of Hamilton on Thursday morning.
His party has proposed accelerating drug and dental plans for Ontarians, hiring more nurses and teachers, covering mental health and birth control, and raising pay minimum at $20 in 2026.
The Liberals, meanwhile, are hoping to rebuild after a devastating defeat four years ago that saw their caucus reduced to just seven seats after spending more than a decade in government.
Leader Steven Del Duca, who lost his seat in 2018, also faces a seemingly tight race in his own riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge, though he says he intends to stay ahead regardless of the outcome. .
The Liberal platform includes plans to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for school attendance, remove the provincial HST on prepared foods under $20 and raise the minimum wage to $16 an hour by next year.
The Ontario Greens proposed free mental health coverage, achieving net zero emissions by 2045 and protecting 30% of Ontario’s lands and waters by 2030.
This party led by Mike Schreiner hopes to expand its caucus by one seat – won by Schreiner in Guelph four years ago – and is considering a potential opening in Parry Sound-Muskoka.
Ford is expected to vote in his Toronto riding today, while Horwath will vote in Hamilton.
Leaders are expected to hold events in the evening after the results are announced.
Elections Ontario said more than one million people voted at advance polls last month and also noted a sharp increase in mail-in ballots requested compared to the 2018 election.
Voting kits were mailed to 126,135 eligible voters this time around, compared to 15,202 ballots in the last election.
—The Canadian Press