“How much will it cost?” That is the question.
Days after announcing his plan to install “Welcome to Ontario, Open for Business” signs along the province’s borders, Premier Ford has yet to answer the simple question that both the opposition and taxpayers are asking.
How much the signs will cost the taxpayer was the most frequently asked question on our Instagram post:
View this post on Instagram
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced these signs will be going up around the province. In a speech to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Ford said “We are making Ontario open for business once again. And we’re not going to be shy about it… In coming weeks these signs are going to be up on the highways, at border crossings, across Ontario.” What do you think of the new signs? #ONpoli #queenspark
“These signs are going to be up on the highways, at border crossings, across Ontario,” said Ford in front of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in Niagara on Friday, with no mention of a price tag.
CityNews posed the question about costs to the Premier directly on Monday.
“I’m not too sure but I’ll find out,” Ford told CityNews reporter Richard Southern at Queen’s Park. “I’ll find out and get back to you.”
During question period on Tuesday, NDP MPP Taras Natyshak pulled no punches when asking the same question again, even referencing Ford’s family business Deco Labels.
“We don’t care whether it’s billboards or bumper stickers from Deco Labels, we just want to know how much it’s going to cost the people of the province.”
Ford remained elusive and offered a variation of his oft-repeated slogan.
“We’re going to make sure the world knows that we now have a province that encourages businesses to open up,” he said.
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli was also unable to shed any light on the issue.
“Well I would think that these ‘open for business’ road signs are a sign to the people all along the border that Ontario really is open for business,” he said, echoing Ford. “Ontario is open for business – just think how much money it’s going to bring in,” he said.
Minister of Transportation John Yakabuski offered a loose timeline, saying they have not nailed down the figures just yet.
“Over the next few days we should expect to have some more information,” he said. “We don’t have the exact numbers…our staff are doing it in-house and we haven’t done the calculations,” adding that as soon as they do know, they will share the information with the public.
Opposition leader Andrea Horwath said the people deserve to know where their money is going.
“A government that got elected on this mantra of fiscal responsibility sure as heck better know how much a road sign costs, ” she said. “When the government is asked a question about finances they should know the answer,” she reiterated.
“We’re quite confident that when this program is fully rolled out it is going to be very positive for the people of Ontario,” said Yakabuski when pushed on the principle of accountability to the people. “We’re excited about it. Ontario is once again open for business”
There is also still some confusion about how many signs will be made.
The provincial sign shop that is creating them told CityNews there will be 11, but the government said Tuesday there will be 18.