Politics
Immigrant incentives for Ontario employers

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty gestures as he releases the Liberal Party Election Platform during a news conference in Toronto September 5, 2011. The 40th Ontario general election is scheduled for October 6, 2011.

Credits: REUTERS/ Brett Gundlock

ANTONELLA ARTUSO & IAN ROBERTSON | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO - Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberals plan to entice businesses into hiring new immigrants with a $10,000 tax credit.

But an audio recording of a conference call, heard by QMI Agency, reveals that a senior Liberal strategist is concerned about "potential blowback" if the opposition portrays the election goodie for newcomers as an affirmative action plan.

Another strategist says the program would be capped to prevent it from running amok.

The conference call was held Sunday - one day before the Liberals unveil their election platform.

The tax credit apparently addresses the complaint from newcomers that they struggle to get work experience in Ontario.

It's unclear how well the program would be received by Ontarians, who were skeptical about affirmative action programs introduced by Ontario's former NDP government in the early 1990s.

Ontario lost 22,000 jobs and added 9,000 people to the welfare rolls in July.

Asked if the Liberal plan might put the rest of Ontario's unemployed at a disadvantage, a party spokesman responded by pointing out that PC Leader Tim Hudak's election platform promises to create more opportunities for
newcomers to Ontario.

"We will make Ontario a magnet for the world's best and brightest by reducing barriers for potential new Canadians, particularly for people who settle in Ontario's small towns," the PC's Changebook says. "To ease our newcomers' transition we will improve transparency of foreign credential recognition, and create a tax credit for employers who sponsor language training."

The Liberals, meanwhile, announced a $1,500 home fix-up plan for seniors.

To keep the elderly comfortable in familiar surroundings, a Healthy Home Renovation Tax Credit would pay a maximum 15% for up to $10,000 worth of work annually.

In their statement, the Grits boasted Sunday of being the only party with a plan to ensure current seniors plus the next generation "will be the healthiest and most-engaged seniors in Ontario's history."

Former Tory health minister Jim Wilson called the fix-up plan "an empty promise," predicting the Grits will continue their tax-boosting traditions - with no relief for seniors.

"Nobody believes Dalton McGuinty is going to lower the taxes and provide relief for seniors," the Simcoe-Grey MPP said from Washago, Ont. "We can't trust him in the future."

Wilson said $1 billion was "wasted on the Aging on Homes" program, and everyone's hydro bills jumped 150% since 2003.

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