Tory vows to protect Ontario seniors

    OAKVILLE, ON, Sept. 24 /CNW/ - Ontario PC Leader John Tory today detailed
the Progressive Conservative plan to protect senior citizens and other
vulnerable homeowners struggling with rising property assessments and unduly
restrictive pension structures.
    "Today, many seniors are struggling to make ends meet. They are penalized
by a property assessment system that punishes people on fixed incomes most of
all," Mr. Tory said. "Dalton McGuinty has failed to show real leadership on
Ontario's assessment crisis. Too many seniors are on the verge of being forced
out of their own homes."
    Tory said his government will take aim at the current municipal property
tax assessment system, which is facing a "crisis of credibility" according to
the Ontario Ombudsman. The average assessed home in Ontario recently rose from
$179,151 in the 2003 taxation year to $232,883 in the 2006 taxation year. Some
assessment increases have been as high as 150%, and homeowners are receiving
assessments that contain incorrect information about their properties.

    A John Tory government will provide stability to homeowners by:

    -   Establishing a five per cent annual cap on property assessment
        increases for as long as a person owns his or her home (including if
        the property is transferred to a spouse);
    -   Implementing a new reverse onus appeal system so the Municipal
        Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) will have to justify an
        assessment increase;
    -   Ensuring MPAC fully implements the recommendations of the Ombudsman,
        and if the serious problems he identified are not addressed, shutting
        down MPAC and building a better system; and,
    -   Addressing rural assessment inequities which currently penalize
        farmers who have been encouraged to have value-added production

    Tory also announced that a John Tory PC government will give Ontario's
retirees 100 per cent access to their locked-in pension income. Under the John
Tory Plan, seniors would gain access to 50 per cent at age 55 and the
remaining 50 per cent at age 65.
    Tory indicated that when the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions
reports back in the summer of 2008, he will move quickly to implement its
    "We can, and must, do more for our senior citizens," Mr. Tory concluded.
"This means adopting policies that put fairness for seniors first. Our seniors
have done so much to make Ontario what it is today. In order to repay that
debt, leadership matters."

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For further information:

For further information: Mike Van Soelen, Tel: (647) 722-1760

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