TORONTO - Premier Kathleen Wynne is giving Ontario's New Democrats until next Thursday to decide if they'll support the budget or try to force a June election, but we should get some indication today where they stand.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath decided to wait until today to offer any reaction to the $130 billion budget, which increased spending and the deficit amid declining revenues but hiked taxes only on higher income earners, smokers and airlines.
Horwath knows the Liberals need her help to avoid being defeated because the Progressive Conservatives vowed to vote against the budget even before they saw it.
But when mobbed by reporters after the budget was introduced, Horwath said only that she wanted to take more time to look at it and would react in the morning.
So Wynne fired off a letter setting a May 8 deadline for Horwath to meet with the premier and say if the NDP will help pass the two budget bills before the end of June.
The letter doesn't say if Wynne would call the budget vote at that point or visit the Lieutenant Governor and ask him to dissolve the legislature and call an election.
Several large labour groups, including the Unifor union and the Ontario Federation of Labour, urged the NDP to pass the budget and avoid an election.
The New Democrats propped up the Liberals in the last two budgets, but negotiated major changes in each including a tax on incomes over $500,000 and a 15 per cent average cut in auto insurance premiums.
Wynne says most of the contents of the budget have been known for weeks, so the NDP shouldn't need too much time to make up their minds.
"Given that much of the budget's content has been discussed for several months and that the budget bill is in front of the house, I believe that one week is a sufficient amount of time for your to complete your review," Wynne wrote to Horwath.