The Ontario Liberals proposed Friday to remove the provincial portion of the HST from prepared food purchases under $20 and pay for it by increasing taxes on wealthy residents and highly profitable corporations if the party is elected this spring.
Currently, the HST exemption for prepared foods maxes out at $4 and Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said the proposed measure would save money for families adding items such as rotisserie chicken to their groceries or an office worker grabbing lunch from a local restaurant.
"Families right across this province ... need real relief,'' he said. "They don't need empty words. They don't need hollow promises. They need real relief that will help them in their everyday lives.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath pointed out that the Liberals put HST on prepared foods over $4 when they were previously in power.
"Now, he's trying to fix that by saying, 'Well, we're going to take the HST off prepared foods under $20 now,''' she said. "We can't trust the Liberals to do the right thing in the first place.''
The Progressive Conservatives also criticized the Liberals as having a "long record of raising taxes for Ontario families and job-creators'' and voting against Tory government measures aimed at reducing costs for people.
The Liberals say the move would cost about $500 million a year in foregone revenue.
They would add a one per cent surtax on companies operating in Ontario whose profits exceed $1 billion a year, which they say would generate about $150 million a year.
As well, they propose to implement a two per cent income tax increase on individuals earning incomes of more than $500,000 a year.
They say that would create a new tax bracket of 15.16% on individual income above that threshold - affecting 0.2% of Ontarians - and generate more than $350 million in annual revenue.
The provincial election campaign is expected to start next week ahead of a June 2nd vote.