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Ontario NDP, Liberals make tree-planting election promises

TORONTO — Ontario's New Democrats and Liberals are making Earth Day promises to plant trees if their parties are elected to form government in June.

The NDP says it will establish a "Youth Climate Corps" that will help the party meet its plan to plant one billion trees by 2030.

The Liberals are promising to plant 800 million trees over eight years.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the paid jobs her party is promising will give young people work experience and a role in fighting the climate crisis.

Horwath says the tree planting and youth jobs are both part of her party's $40 billion climate plan.

The NDP says the youth jobs program would be paid for through budgets for the programs they would contribute to like tree planting, and the tree planting budget would range from $50 to $80 million per year.

Meanwhile, Leader Steven Del Duca says his party's plan would plant 100 million trees every year for eight years.

He says Ontario families would have access to trees for free if they want to plant them at their homes. The Liberal plan would also provide municipalities with trees at no cost to plant in their communities.

The Liberals say their plan will create about 2,000 jobs for graduates and students and help remove pollution from the air in the province.

The party didn't say how much the tree-planting initiative will cost either, but Del Duca has said his party will be releasing a fully costed platform soon.

A spokeswoman for Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford was critical of the Liberals' plan, noting on Twitter that the previous Liberal government fell short of its goal to plant 50 million trees.

"They couldn’t plant 50 million in 10 years, but sure let’s pretend they can plant 800 million trees in eight," Ivana Yelich wrote.

In 2019, the Ford government eliminated the 50 Million Tree Program in a bid to cut provincial costs. More than 27 million trees were planted across Ontario under the program, which was launched in 2008.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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